25 years since USSR collapse

Today marks 25 years since the signing of the Belavezha Accords, which declared the Soviet Union effectively dissolved and established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

A quarter of a century ago, on December 8, 1991, the state cottage near Viskuli in Belovezhskaya Pushcha held the meetings of the heads of the three Union republics - the Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk and the chairman of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, Stanislav Shushkevich.

During the negotiations, the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the Soviet Union was denounced. The sides also signed an agreement on creation of the CIS.

In addition to Yeltsin, Kravchuk and Shushkevich, the meeting was attended by the State Secretary Gennady Burbulis, the State Counsellor Sergey Shahray, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Vitold Fokin and the Prime Minister of Belarus Vyacheslav Kebich.

In 1990s, before the Belavezha Accords, during the so-called "parade of sovereignties" the USSR republics proclaimed its sovereignty.

On March 17, 1991 a nationwide referendum was held, boycotted by the Baltic republics, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova, which resulted in the majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the Union as a renewed federation. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev would publish the draft of a new union treaty in November, which envisioned a continued union called the Union of Sovereign Soviet Republics, but the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP) during the August Putsch attempted to take control of the country. A few days later the rebellion was suppressed, and the committee dissolved.

A referendum on the Act of Declaration of Independence was held in Ukraine on 1 December 1991.An overwhelming majority of voters approved the declaration of independence.

"The Soviet Union as a geopolitical reality and a subject of international law has ceased to exist," the leaders declared.

Parties guaranteed their citizens equal rights and freedoms and Article 14 determined the city of Minsk the official seat of the coordinating bodies of the Commonwealth.

After signing the agreement, Boris Yeltsin called the US President George Bush Sr. Their conversation was recorded by US intelligence agencies and declassified in 2008. Russian President told Bush about the agreements on the formation of the Commonwealth, adding that the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is also ready to sign the agreement.

Yeltsin said that members of this commonwealth put as their goal, the strengthening of international peace and security. They also support a unitary control over the nuclear arsenal and non-proliferation.

"This is extremely important. These four republics produce 90% of the entire gross production of the Soviet Union. This is an attempt to preserve this commonwealth, while liberating us from the total control of the center which, for the past 70 years, has been giving all the orders. This is a very serious step, but we hope, we are convinced, we are sure, that this is the only way out of the critical situation, in which we have found ourselves," Yeltsin expressed his opinion, speaking to Bush.

Russian politician added that President Gorbachev does not know about any of this yet, only about the intention to meet.

On December 12, 1991 the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR ratified the accords on behalf of Russia and at the same time denounced the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the Soviet Union, effectively seceding from the USSR.

"The fate of the multinational state cannot be determined by the will of the leaders of three republics," Gorbachev said on December 10. The representatives of 11 Soviet republics signed the protocol, and on December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned and turned control of the Kremlin and the remaining powers of his office over to the office of the president of Russia, Yeltsin. On this day, President of the United States George H. W. Bush gave a short speech on national TV to recognize the independence of the former states of the Soviet Union.

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