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UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS
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Introduction

Coat of arms of the Soviet Union 1
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union comprising fifteen top-level republics; in practice, both its government and its economy were built on an authoritarian and highly centralized model until its final years. A Marxist-Leninist one-party state, it was governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with Moscow as the capital. Other major cities included Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata and Novosibirsk. It was by far the largest country in the world by land area, covering over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 square miles) and spanning eleven time zones.

The Soviet Union traces its origin to the 1917 October Revolution which saw the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin topple the Provisional Government and establish the RSFSR, the world's first constitutionally socialist state. The October Revolution followed the earlier February Revolution which saw the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. Bolshevik seizure of power lead to the Russian Civil War, which pitted the Bolsheviks against the White Army. In 1922, the White Army was defeated which spearheaded the creation of the Soviet Union and its Communist Party.

Following Lenin's death and state funeral in 1924, Joseph Stalin assumed leadership over the party and country. Beginning a period of Soviet governance guided by Stalinism he inaugurated rapid industrialization and forced collectivization, which led to significant economic growth but also contributed to the Soviet famine of 1930–1933. His rule also saw the expansion of the labour camp system under the Gulag. Between 1936 and 1938, Stalin carried out the Great Purge, a campaign of political repression through which he solidified his power. In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, opening up the Eastern Front of World War II. The combined Soviet civilian and military casualty figures—estimated to be around 27 million people—accounted for the majority of losses on the side of the Allies. The total defeat of the Axis in 1945 marked a formal cessation of hostilities, and the territories taken by Soviet forces subsequently formed various Soviet satellite states.

By 1947, newfound tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States had escalated into the Cold War. During this period, the Soviet-aligned Eastern Bloc confronted the American-aligned Western Bloc. The two sides consolidated their opposition to each other through ideology-based military alliances: the Warsaw Pact, which formed in 1955 to serve Soviet interests, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which formed earlier in 1949 to serve American interests. Following Stalin's death and state funeral in 1953, a process of ‘de-Stalinization’ was initiated by Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviet Union took an early lead in the Space Race with the first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1), the first human spaceflight (Vostok 1), and the first probe to land on another planet (Venera 7). Throughout the 1970s, there was a détente in Soviet Union–United States relations, but bilateral tensions later worsened due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform the country through his policies of glasnost and perestroika. At the end of the Cold War, various socialist states were overthrown by the Revolutions of 1989, jeopardizing the Warsaw Pact. Unrest across the Eastern Bloc was also accompanied by the outbreak of strong nationalist and separatist movements within the Soviet Union itself. To address the question of the country's future, Gorbachev initiated the 1991 Soviet Union referendum—boycotted by the Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova—that resulted in the majority of participating citizens voting in favour of the New Union Treaty, which aimed to preserve the Soviet Union as a completely reformed country. Later that year, hardline members of the Communist Party staged the August Coup, which was unsuccessful in overthrowing Gorbachev's government; Boris Yeltsin played a high-profile role in facing down the unrest and the Communist Party was subsequently banned, accelerating the dissolution of the Soviet Union. By December 1991, all of the fifteen Soviet republics had emerged as fully independent post-Soviet states.

The Soviet Union made many social and technological achievements and innovations. It was a founding member of the United Nations and one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It had the world's second-largest economy while the Soviet Armed Forces comprised the world's largest standing military at their peak, also possessing the world's largest nuclear weapons arsenal. Alongside the United States, the Soviet Union was one of the two superpowers from the end of World War II until its dissolution; it exercised global influence through the Eastern Bloc and various forms of aid to the Third World, and scientific research. (Full article...)

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Replica of Sputnik 1

Sputnik 1 (/ˈspʌtnɪk, ˈspʊtnɪk/; see § Etymology) was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957 as part of the Soviet space program. It sent a radio signal back to Earth for three weeks before its three silver-zinc batteries ran out, and continued in orbit for two months until aerodynamic drag caused it to fall back into the atmosphere on 4 January 1958.

It was a polished metal sphere 58 cm (23 in) in diameter with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable by amateur radio operators, and the 65° orbital inclination made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth. (Full article...)
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The Moscow Kremlin

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the letters "CCCP" and the Soviet coat of arms on the Moscow Kremlin were replaced by two-headed eagles.

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  • ... that because Leonid Brezhnev had more than 200 decorations, it was decided to break the Soviet custom of featuring only one decoration on cushions during his funeral?

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“ Greece is a sort of American vassal; the Netherlands is the country of American bases that grow like tulip bulbs; Cuba is the main sugar plantation of the American monopolies; Turkey is prepared to kowtow before any United States proconsul and Canada is the boring second fiddle in the American symphony. ” — Andrei Gromyko, talking about Soviet foreign affairs

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Gennady Ivanovich Yanayev (Russian: Генна́дий Ива́нович Яна́ев; 26 August 1937 – 24 September 2010) was a Soviet politician who served as the first and only vice president of the Soviet Union. Yanayev's political career spanned the rules of Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko, and culminated during the Gorbachev years. Yanayev was born in Perevoz, Gorky Oblast. After years in local politics, he rose to prominence as Chairman of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, but he also held other lesser posts such as deputy of the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.

Due to his chairmanship of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, in 1990 he gained a seat in the 28th Politburo and Secretary of the Central Committee. Later that year, on 27 December, with the help of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yanayev was elected the first, and only, Vice President of the Soviet Union. Having growing doubts about where Gorbachev's reforms were leading, Yanayev started working with, and eventually formally leading, the Gang of Eight, the group which deposed Gorbachev during the August 1991 coup d'état attempt. After three days, the coup collapsed, in part due to Western backing of Boris Yeltsin, but during its brief grip of power Yanayev was made Acting President of the Soviet Union. He was then arrested for his role in the coup, but in 1994 he was pardoned. He spent the rest of his life working in the Russian tourism administration until his death on 24 September 2010. (Full article...)

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  • 2020-09-16 165855 Soviet submarine B-515
    2020-09-16 165855 Soviet submarine B-515
  • Alexei Leonov
    Alexei Leonov
  • Field Marshall Keitel signs German surrender terms in Berlin 8 May 1945 - Restoration
    Field Marshall Keitel signs German surrender terms in Berlin 8 May 1945 - Restoration
  • German instrument of surrender2
    German instrument of surrender2
  • Instrument of surrender Japan2
    Instrument of surrender Japan2
  • Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending the Second World War
    Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending the Second World War
  • Maxim Gorky LOC Restored edit1
    Maxim Gorky LOC Restored edit1
  • Moscow Elektrozavodskaya metro station asv2018-09
    Moscow Elektrozavodskaya metro station asv2018-09
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    RUS-2016-Murmansk-Icebreaker Lenin 01
  • Russian Imperial Family 1913
    Russian Imperial Family 1913
  • USS Yorktown collision
    USS Yorktown collision
  • Yalta Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) (B&W)
    Yalta Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) (B&W)
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    Yuri Gagarin (1961) - Restoration

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  • German instrument of surrender2 (2009-05-07)
    German instrument of surrender2 (2009-05-07)
  • Instrument of surrender Japan2 (2009-09-02)
    Instrument of surrender Japan2 (2009-09-02)
  • Yalta Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) (B&W) (2010-05-08)
    Yalta Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) (B&W) (2010-05-08)
  • USS Yorktown collision (2011-02-12)
    USS Yorktown collision (2011-02-12)
  • Maxim Gorky LOC Restored edit1 (2013-03-28)
    Maxim Gorky LOC Restored edit1 (2013-03-28)
  • Yuri Gagarin (1961) - Restoration (2020-03-09)
    Yuri Gagarin (1961) - Restoration (2020-03-09)
  • Alexei Leonov (2020-03-18)
    Alexei Leonov (2020-03-18)
  • Field Marshall Keitel signs German surrender terms in Berlin 8 May 1945 - Restoration (2020-05-08)
    Field Marshall Keitel signs German surrender terms in Berlin 8 May 1945 - Restoration (2020-05-08)
  • RUS-2016-Murmansk-Icebreaker Lenin 01 (2020-06-08)
    RUS-2016-Murmansk-Icebreaker Lenin 01 (2020-06-08)
  • Moscow Elektrozavodskaya metro station asv2018-09 (2022-02-26)
    Moscow Elektrozavodskaya metro station asv2018-09 (2022-02-26)
  • Russian Imperial Family 1913 (2022-07-17)
    Russian Imperial Family 1913 (2022-07-17)
  • Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending the Second World War (2022-09-02)
    Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending the Second World War (2022-09-02)


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