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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 of twenty one republics; in practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with the city of Moscow serving as its capital as well as that of its largest and most populous republic, the Russian SFSR. Other major cities included Leningrad (Russian SFSR), Kiev (Ukrainian SSR), Minsk (Byelorussian SSR), Tashkent (Uzbek SSR), Alma-Ata (Kazakh SSR), and Novosibirsk (Russian SFSR). It was the largest country in the world, covering over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 square miles) and spanning eleven time zones.

The country's roots lay in the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government that had earlier replaced the House of Romanov of the Russian Empire. The Bolshevik victory established the Russian Soviet Republic, the world's first constitutionally guaranteed socialist state. Persisting internal tensions escalated into the Russian Civil War. By 1922, the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin had emerged victorious, forming the Soviet Union.

Following Lenin's death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power. Stalin inaugurated a period of rapid industrialization and forced collectivization that led to significant economic growth but also contributed to a famine in 1930–1933 that killed millions. The labor camp system of the Gulag was also expanded in this period. Stalin conducted the Great Purge from 1936–1938 to remove his actual and perceived political opponents. After the outbreak of World War II, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The combined Soviet civilian and military casualty count—estimated to be around 27 million people—accounted for the majority of losses of Allied forces. In the aftermath of World War II, the territory taken by the Red Army formed various Soviet satellite states.

The beginning of the Cold War saw the Soviet Union's Eastern Bloc confront the United States' Western Bloc, with the latter grouping becoming largely united in 1949 under NATO and the former grouping becoming largely united in 1955 under the Warsaw Pact. Following Stalin's death in 1953, a period known as de-Stalinization occurred under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviets took an early lead in the Space Race with the first artificial satellite, the first human spaceflight, and the first probe to land on another planet (Venus). In the 1970s, there was a brief détente in the Soviet Union's relationship with the United States, but tensions resumed following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform the country through his policies of glasnost and perestroika. In 1989, during the closing stages of the Cold War, various countries of the Warsaw Pact overthrew their Marxist–Leninist regimes, which was accompanied by the outbreak of strong nationalist and separatist movements across the entire Soviet Union. In 1991, Gorbachev initiated a national referendum—boycotted by the Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova—that resulted in the majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the country as a renewed federation. In August 1991, hardline members of the Communist Party staged a coup d'état against Gorbachev; the attempt failed, with Boris Yeltsin playing a high-profile role in facing down the unrest, and the Communist Party was subsequently banned. All of the republics emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union as fully independent post-Soviet states.

The Soviet Union produced many significant social and technological achievements and innovations. It had the world's second-largest economy, and the Soviet Armed Forces comprised the largest standing military in the world. An NPT-designated state, it possessed the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. It was a founding member of the United Nations as well as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. From the end of World War II until its dissolution, the country maintained its status as one of the world's two superpowers, alongside the United States, through its hegemony in Eastern Europe, military and economic strengths, aid to developing countries, and scientific research. (Full article...)

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The Mikoyan-Gurevich I-250 (Samolet N), aka MiG-13, was a Soviet fighter aircraft developed as part of a crash program in 1944 to develop a high-performance fighter to counter German turbojet-powered aircraft such as the Messerschmitt Me 262. The Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau decided to focus on a design that used something more mature than the jet engine, which was still at an experimental stage in the Soviet Union, and chose a mixed-power solution with the VRDK (Vozdushno-Reaktivny Dvigatel Kompressornyi – air reaction compressor jet) motorjet powered by the Klimov VK-107 V12 engine. While quite successful when it worked, with a maximum speed of 820 km/h (510 mph) being reached during trials, production problems with the VRDK fatally delayed the program and it was canceled in 1948 as obsolete. (Full article...)
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360° Panoramic view of the Red Square in Moscow. The photograph was made early in the morning by a nearly empty square.
Credit: A.Savin

Red Square (Russian: Красная площадь, Krásnaya plóshchad’) is a city square in Moscow. During the Soviet era, Red Square maintained its significance, becoming a focal point for the new state. Besides being the official address of the Soviet government, it was renowned as a showcase for military parades.

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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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“ We do not want a single foot of foreign territory; but we will not surrender a single inch of our territory to anyone. ” — Joseph Stalin, in a speech during the Second World War

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Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria (/ˈbɛriə/; Russian: Лавре́нтий Па́влович Бе́рия, tr. Lavréntiy Pávlovich Bériya, IPA: [ˈbʲerʲiə]; Georgian: ლავრენტი ბერია, romanized: lavrent'i beria, IPA: [bɛɾiɑ]; 29 March [O.S. 17 March] 1899 – 23 December 1953) was a Georgian Bolshevik and Soviet politician, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security, and chief of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin during the Second World War, and promoted to deputy premier under Stalin in 1941. He officially joined the Politburo in 1946.

Beria was the longest-lived and most influential of Stalin's secret police chiefs, wielding his most substantial influence during and after the war. Following the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, he was responsible for organizing purges such as the Katyn massacre of 22,000 Polish officers and officials. He would later also orchestrate the forced upheaval of minorities from the Caucasus as head of the NKVD, an act that was declared as genocidal by various scholars and, as concerning Chechens, in 2004 by the European Parliament. He simultaneously administered vast sections of the Soviet state, and acted as the de facto Marshal of the Soviet Union in command of NKVD field units responsible for barrier troops and Soviet partisan intelligence and sabotage operations on the Eastern Front. Beria administered the expansion of the Gulag labour camps, and was primarily responsible for overseeing the secret detention facilities for scientists and engineers known as sharashkas. (Full article...)

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    Field Marshall Keitel signs German surrender terms in Berlin 8 May 1945 - Restoration
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    German instrument of surrender2
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    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
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    Maxim Gorky LOC Restored edit1
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    Moscow Elektrozavodskaya metro station asv2018-09
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    Russian Imperial Family 1913
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    USS Yorktown collision
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    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)
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    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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3 September 2022 – Death and funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev
The funeral of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev is held in Moscow. (The Guardian)

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