The post-Soviet states, also referred to as the former Soviet Union (FSU) or the former Soviet republics, are the independent sovereign states that emerged/re-emerged out of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Prior to their independence, they existed as Union Republics — top-level constituents of the Soviet Union. There are 15 post-Soviet states in total: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Each of these countries succeeded their respective Union Republics: the Armenian SSR, the Azerbaijan SSR, the Byelorussian SSR, the Estonian SSR, the Georgian SSR, the Kazakh SSR, the Kirghiz SSR, the Latvian SSR, the Lithuanian SSR, the Moldavian SSR, the Russian SFSR, the Tajik SSR, the Turkmen SSR, the Ukrainian SSR, and the Uzbek SSR. In Russia, the term "near abroad" (Russian: ближнее зарубежье bližneye zarʉbežye) is sometimes used to refer to other post-Soviet states.
Following the end of the Cold War, the international community de facto recognized Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union as a whole, rather than to just the Russian SFSR. In contrast, the other post-Soviet states were recognized as successors only to their corresponding Union Republics. However, Russia's status as the sole legitimate successor in this capacity has been disputed by Ukraine, which has proclaimed by law that it is the successor state to both the Ukrainian SSR and the Soviet Union as a whole. The question of whether Russia or Ukraine succeeded the Soviet Union in 1991 arose due to a comprehensive dispute between the two countries over what had been collective Soviet state-owned properties, now divided by the Russia–Ukraine border.
The Union Republics of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) were the first to break away from the Soviet Union by proclaiming the restoration of their national independence between March and May 1990; they cited legal continuity from the original Baltic states, asserting that Baltic sovereignty had continued on a de jure basis due to the belligerent nature of the 1940 Soviet annexation. Subsequently, the 12 remaining Union Republics seceded, with all of them jointly establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and most of them later joining the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On the other hand, the three Baltic states pursued a policy of near-total disengagement with the Russian-dominated post-Soviet sphere, instead focusing on integrating themselves with the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). They successfully attained NATO membership in March 2004, and were granted EU membership two months later. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the integration of the Baltic states with the EU and NATO, many EU officials have stressed the importance of establishing EU Association Agreements with the other post-Soviet states. Since the 2000s, Ukraine and Georgia have actively sought NATO membership due to increasingly hostile Russian interference in their internal affairs. However, the prospect of NATO's eastward enlargement further escalated regional tensions, culminating in the Russo-Georgian War since 2008 and the Russo-Ukrainian War since 2014.
Due to the post-Soviet conflicts, several disputed states with varying degrees of international recognition have emerged within the territory of the former Soviet Union. These include Transnistria, an unrecognized Russian-backed state in eastern Moldova; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two partially recognized Russian-backed states in northern Georgia; and Artsakh, an unrecognized Armenian breakaway state in southwestern Azerbaijan. The United Nations (UN) has historically considered Russian-backed states in the "near abroad" to be illegitimate, instead viewing them as constituting Russian-occupied territories. The aftermath of the Maidan Revolution saw the emergence of Russian-backed states in Ukraine in 2014: the Republic of Crimea in southern Ukraine briefly claimed independence before being annexed by Russia in 2014; and the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, both located in Ukraine's Donbas, declared independence in 2014 before being annexed by Russia in 2022, amidst the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In the political language of Russia and some other post-Soviet states, the term near abroad (Russian ближнее зарубежье "blizhnee zarubezhe") refers to the independent republics that emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Increasing usage of the term in English is connected to assertions of Russia's right to maintain significant influence in the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the region to be a component of Russia's "sphere of influence", and strategically vital to Russian interests. The concept has been compared to the Monroe Doctrine.
The AP Styleguide recommends avoiding using the shorthand "former Soviet republic(s)" unless relevant to the story.
The 15 states may be divided into four subregions. Not included in these categories are the several de facto independent states presently lacking international recognition (read below: Separatist conflicts).
|Independence||Area||Population||Ethnic majority, percent||Density||Notes|
|Coat of arms||Flag||km2||mi2||1989||now||p/km2||p/mi2|
(Republic of Kazakhstan)
|December 16, 1991||2,724,900||1,052,090||19,824,172||39.7%||69.6%||7||18|||
|August 31, 1991||199,945||77,199||6,663,000||52.4%||73.8%||33||85|||
(Republic of Tajikistan)
republic under a dictatorship
|September 9, 1991||143,100||55,251||9,506,000||62.3%||84.3%||64||166|||
(formerly the Republic of Turkmenistan)
republic under a hereditary
|October 27, 1991||491,210||189,657||6,431,000||72.0%||85.6%||11||28|||
(Republic of Uzbekistan)
republic under a dictatorship
|August 31, 1991||444,103||171,469||36,130,158||71.4%||84.4%||76||197|||
|Total Central Asia||4,003,258||1,545,667||76,350,229||59.6%||79.5%||38.2||99|
(Republic of Belarus)
republic under a dictatorship
|August 25, 1991||207,600||80,155||9,255,524||77.9%||84.9%||46||119|||
(Republic of Moldova)
|August 27, 1991||33,843||13,067||2,597,100||64.5%||75.1%||79||205|||
republic under a dictatorship
|December 12, 1991||17,098,242||6,601,668||146,171,015||81.5%||77.7%||9||23|||
|August 24, 1991||603,700||233,090||41,383,182||72.7%||77.5%||72||186|||
|Total Eastern Europe||17,943,385||6,927,980||199,500,942||74.2%||78.8%||51.5||133|
(Republic of Estonia)
|August 20, 1991||45,339||17,505||1,331,796||61.5%||69.4%||29||75|||
(Republic of Latvia)
|May 4, 1990||64,562||24,928||1,882,200||52.0%||63.0%||30||78|||
(Republic of Lithuania)
|March 11, 1990||65,300||25,212||2,859,718||79.6%||84.6%||43||111|||
|Total Baltic states||175,201||67,645||5,998,274||64.4%||72.0%||34||88|
(Republic of Armenia)
|September 23, 1991||29,743||11,484||2,976,800||93.3%||98.1%||100||259|||
(Republic of Azerbaijan)
republic under a hereditary
|August 30, 1991||86,600||33,436||10,127,145||82.7%||91.6%||115||298|||
(formerly the Republic of Georgia)
|April 9, 1991||69,700||26,911||3,688,600||70.1%||86.8%||53||137|||
|Total South Caucasus||186,043||71,832||16,831,069||82.0%||92.2%||89.3||231|
|Total former Soviet Union||22,307,815||8,613,096||296,582,638||50.6%||44.5%||9||23|||
The dissolution of the Soviet Union took place as one result of and against the backdrop of the general stagnation, even regression, of the economy of the USSR. As the Gosplan, which had set up production chains to cross SSR lines, broke down, the inter-republic economic connections were also disrupted, leading to even more serious effects on the post-Soviet economies.
Most of the formerly Soviet states began the transition to a market economy from a command economy in 1990–1991 and made efforts to rebuild and restructure their economic systems, often following neoliberal shock therapy policies, with varying results. In all, the process triggered severe economic declines, with gross domestic product (GDP) dropping by more than 40% overall between 1990 and 1995. This decline in GDP was much more intense than the 27% decline that the United States suffered in the wake of the Great Depression between 1930 and 1934. The reconfiguration of public finance in compliance with capitalist principles resulted in dramatically reduced spending on health, education and other social programs, leading to a sharp increase in poverty and economic inequality. The economic shocks associated with wholesale privatization resulted in the excess deaths of roughly 1 million working age individuals throughout the former Soviet bloc in the 1990s. A study by economist Steven Rosefielde asserts that 3.4 million Russians died premature deaths from 1990 to 1998, partly as the result of the shock therapy policies imposed by the Washington Consensus.
The initial transition decline was eventually arrested, and after 1995 the economy in the post-Soviet states began to recover, with GDP switching from negative to positive growth rates. By 2007, 10 of the 15 post-Soviet states had recovered their 1991 GDP levels. According to economist Branko Milanović, in 2015 many former Soviet republics and other former communist countries still have not caught up to their 1991 levels of output, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Serbia, Tajikistan and Ukraine. He concluded that "only 1 out of 10 people living in 'transition' countries have seen a successful transition to capitalism and more democracy." Commenting on Milanović's report in 2021, Kristen Ghodsee says this view is "essentially correct" and perhaps underestimates "the negative impacts of transition by focusing only on GDP, inequality and democratic consolidation" whereas Mitchell A. Orenstein says this view is "overly pessimistic" and notes that "Poland had done spectacularly well and living standards had increased in many countries."
Most of the new states' constitutions define directly or indirectly the economic system of the countries parallel to the democratic transition of the 1990s, emphasising the free market economy. The average government debt in these countries is nearly 44%, but the deviation is great, because the lowest figure is close to 10% but the highest is 97%. The trend shows that the sovereign debt-to-GDP ratio in most of the countries has been rising. The constitutional background for taxation is similar. Central banks are often independent state institutions, which possess the monopoly on managing and implementing a state's or federation's monetary policy. Besides monetary policy, some of them also perform the supervision of the financial intermediary system.
Change in gross domestic product (GDP) in constant prices, 1991–2015
*Economy of most Soviet republics started to decline in 1989–1990, thus indices for 1991 do not match pre-reform maximums.
**The year when GDP decline switched to GDP growth
List of the present gross domestic product (GDP) (figures are given in 2023 United States dollars for the year 2023 according to the IMF)
per capita (USD)
per capita (USD)
The post-Soviet states listed according to their Human Development Index scores in 2021
Very High Human Development:
High Human Development:
Medium Human Development:
A number of regional organizations and cooperating blocs have sprung up since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Only organizations that are mainly (or completely) composed of post-Soviet states are listed in this section; organizations with wider memberships are not discussed. The 15 post-Soviet states are divided in their participation to the regional blocs:
Main article: Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) consists of 10 former Soviet Republics that differ in their membership status. As of December 2010, 9 countries have ratified the CIS charter and are full CIS members (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), one country (Turkmenistan) is an associate member and two countries (Georgia, Ukraine) left the organization in 2009 and in 2018. In 2014, Ukraine declined its CIS chairmanship and considered withdrawal from the organization.
In 1994, the CIS countries agreed to create a free trade area, but the agreements were never signed. On 19 October 2011, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine signed a free trade agreement. Uzbekistan joined the free trade area in 2013.
Main article: Eurasian Economic Community
The Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC), formerly the CIS Customs Union, was established by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Ukraine and Moldova have observer status in the community; however, Ukraine has declared its desire not to become a full member state. Because having common borders with the rest of the community is a prerequisite for full membership, Moldova is barred from seeking it. Uzbekistan applied for membership in October 2005, when the process of merging Central Asian Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community began; it joined on 25 January 2006. Uzbekistan subsequently suspended its membership in 2008.
On 10 October 2014 an agreement on the termination of the Eurasian Economic Community was signed in Minsk after a session of the Interstate Council of the EAEC. The Eurasian Economic Community was terminated from 1 January 2015 in connection with the launch of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Main article: Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan created a customs union that entered into force in July 2010. Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan indicated interest in joining at the time. Russia has been eager for Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine to join the custom union instead of the European Union, and the Moldovan break-away state of Transnistria has supported this. In 2013, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia announced plans to seek membership, but division over the issue in Ukraine led to the Revolution of Dignity after the Ukrainian government backed out of an EU Eastern Partnership in favor of the union. In 2014, voters in the Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia rejected closer ties to the EU in favor of the union.
On 1 January 2012, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus established the Single Economic Space which ensures the effective functioning of a single market for goods, services, capital and labour, and to establish coherent industrial, transport, energy and agricultural policies. The agreement included a roadmap for future integration and established the Eurasian Economic Commission (modelled on the European Commission). The Eurasian Economic Commission serves as the regulatory agency for the Eurasian Customs Union, the Single Economic Space and the Eurasian Economic Union.
The Eurasian Economic Union is an economic union of post-Soviet states. The treaty aiming for the establishment of the EAEU was signed on 29 May 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on 1 January 2015. Treaties aiming for Armenia's and Kyrgyzstan's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union were signed on 9 October 2014 and 23 December respectively. Armenia's accession treaty came into force on 2 January 2015. Although Kyrgyzstan's accession treaty will not come into force until May 2015, provided it has been ratified, it will participate in the EAEU from the day of its establishment as an acceding state. Moldova and Tajikistan are prospective members.
Main article: Collective Security Treaty Organization
Seven CIS member states, namely Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia, have enhanced their military cooperation, establishing the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), this being an expansion of the previous Collective Security Treaty (CST). Uzbekistan which (alongside Georgia and Azerbaijan) withdrew from the CST in 1999, joined GUAM. Then in 2005, it withdrew from GUAM and joined the CSTO in 2006. On 28 June 2012, Uzbekistan suspended its membership in the CSTO.
Main article: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Three former Soviet states are members of NATO: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Georgia, where both public opinion and the ruling government favor NATO membership, is in the Intensified Dialogue program with NATO. Ukraine also declared joining NATO as its geopolitical goal once again in 2017 (the first time being right after the Orange Revolution and in the beginning of presidency of Viktor Yushchenko), after the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, during which the government officially declared neutrality and ceased to seek NATO membership.
Other states in the Partnership for Peace and Individual Partnership Action Plan program include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Main article: GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development
Four member states, namely Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, established the GUAM group that was largely seen as intending to counter Russian dominance in the region. Notably, these four nations do not participate in any of the other regional organizations that sprang up in the region since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (other than the CIS).
Main article: Union State
The Union State of Russia and Belarus was originally formed on 2 April 1996 under the name Commonwealth of Russia and Belarus, before being tightened further on 8 December 1999. It was initiated by the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. On paper, the Union of Russia and Belarus intends further integration, beyond the scope of mere cooperation, including the introduction of the rouble as a common currency.
Main article: Economic Cooperation Organization
The Economic Cooperation Organization was originally formed in 1985 by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan but in 1992 the organization was expanded to include Afghanistan and the six primarily Muslim former Soviet republics: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Main article: Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
The post-Soviet disputed states of Abkhazia, Artsakh, South Ossetia and Transnistria are all members of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations which aims to forge closer integration.
Main article: Community of Democratic Choice
The Community of Democratic Choice (CDC) was formed in December 2005 at the primary instigation of Ukraine and Georgia, and composed of six post-Soviet states (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and three other countries of Eastern and Central Europe (Slovenia, Romania and North Macedonia). The Black Sea Forum (BSF) is a closely related organization. Observer countries include Armenia, Bulgaria and Poland.
Just like GUAM before it, this forum is largely seen as intending to counteract Russian influence in the area. This is the only international forum centered in the post-Soviet space in which the Baltic countries also participate. In addition, the other three post-Soviet states in it are all members of GUAM.
Main article: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), is composed of China and five post-Soviet states, namely Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organization was founded in 2001, though its predecessor, the Shanghai Five grouping, has existed since 1996. Its aims revolve around security-related issues such as border demarcation, terrorism and energy.
Apart from above, the former Soviet republics also hold membership in a number of multinational organizations such as:
Regarding political freedom in the former Soviet republics, Freedom House's 2021 report listed the following:
Similarly, the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders in 2022 recorded the following as regards press freedom:
It has been remarked that several post-Soviet states did not change leadership for decades since their independence, such as Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan until his surprise resignation in 2019, and Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, until his death in September 2016. All of these had originally more limited terms but through decrees or referendums prolonged their stay in office (a practice also followed by Presidents Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan). Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan had likewise served as President since its independence until he was forced to resign as a result of the Kyrgyz revolution of 2005. Saparmurat Niyazov in Turkmenistan ruled from independence until his death in 2006, creating a personality cult around himself. His successor, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, has maintained a personality cult of his own that has replaced the worshipping of Niyazov.
The issue of dynastical succession has been another element affecting the politics of some post-Soviet States. Heydar Aliyev, after constructing an extensive and ongoing cult of personality, handed the Presidency of Azerbaijan to his son, Ilham Aliyev. Theories about the children of other leaders in Central Asia being groomed for succession abound. The participation of Akayev's son and daughter in the 2005 Kyrgyz parliamentary elections boosted fears of dynastic succession being used in Kyrgyzstan as well, and may have contributed to the anti-Akayev climate that led to his overthrow.
See also: Post-Soviet conflicts
Economic, political, national, military and social problems have all been factors in separatism in the post-Soviet space. In many cases, problems due to factors such as ethnic divisions existed before the fall of the Soviet Union, and upon the fall of the union were brought into the open. Such territories and resulting military conflicts have so far been:
Coat of arms
(Transnistrian Moldavian Republic)
|Tiraspol||25 August 1991
(Republic of Artsakh)
|Stepanakert||10 December 1991
(Republic of South Ossetia –
the State of Alania)
|Tskhinval||29 May 1992
(Republic of Abkhazia)
|Sukhumi||23 July 1992
Coat of arms
|Comrat||19 August 1990
(from SSR Moldavia)
|Reincorporated into Moldova with
an autonomous status in 1995
(Republic of Crimea)
|Simferopol||11 March 2014
|Occupied by Russia before an illegal referendum and annexation March 18, 2014||26,100||10,077||1,913,731||73.32||189.9|
(Donetsk People's Republic)
|Donetsk||12 May 2014
|Partly occupied by Russia before sham referendums and declared "annexation" in September 2022||7,853||3,032||2,302,444||293.19||759.4|
(Luhansk People's Republic)
|Luhansk||12 May 2014
(Republic of Tatarstan)
|Kazan||21 March 1992
|Reincorporated into Russia
after peaceful negotiations in 1994
(Chechen Republic of Ichkeria)
|Grozny||1 November 1991
(from Russian SFSR)
|Disestablished in 2000
after the Second Chechen War
(Толъш-Мъғонә Мохтарә Республикә)
|Lankaran||21 June 1993
|Reincorporated into Azerbaijan in August 1993||7,465||2,882||960,000||128.6||333.1|
See also: Post-Soviet conflicts
Civil wars unrelated to separatist movements have occurred twice in the region:
Since 2003, a number of (largely) peaceful "colour revolutions" have happened in some post-Soviet states after disputed elections, with popular protests bringing into power the former opposition.
There is a significant Russophone population in most of the post-Soviet states, whose political position as an ethnic minority varies from country to country. While Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in addition to Russia, have kept Russian as an official language, the language lost its status in other post-Soviet states after the end of the Soviet Union. It maintains semi-official status in all CIS member states, because it is the organisation's official working language, but in the three Baltic states, the Russian language is not recognized in any official capacity. Georgia, since its departure from the CIS in 2009, has begun operating its government almost exclusively in the Georgian language.
While the Soviet system placed severe restrictions on religious intellectual life, traditions continued to survive. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Islamic movements have emerged alongside ethnic and secular ones. Vitaly Naumkin gives the following assessment: "Throughout the time of change, Islam has served as a symbol of identity, a force for mobilization, and a pressure for democracy. This is one of the few social disasters that the church has survived, in which it was not the cause. But if successful politically, it faces economic challenges beyond its grasp."
The Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) plus Azerbaijan in the Southern Caucasus are Muslim, except for their dwindling Russian and other European minorities. The Baltic countries are historically Western Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic), which adds another layer of pro-Western orientation to those countries, although the majority of what has been the traditionally Protestant population there (in Estonia and northern Latvia) is now relatively irreligious. The dominant religion in the other former Soviet countries (Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine) is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In most countries, religiosity has increased since the Soviet collapse.
Main article: LGBT rights in the Post-Soviet states
LGBT people may encounter difficulties not shared by non-LGBT residents. In Transnistria homosexuality is illegal. In some other regions, such as Russia and Ukraine, homosexual actions are legal, but there is still discrimination and bias towards the gay community.
The Soviet Union inherited environmental problems from the pre-Revolutionary era that it blamed on the failings and evils of capitalism. The Soviet Union promoted environmental sentiments; it had a constitutional clause on environmental protection and promoted the idea that, by ending capitalism, environmental problems would cease to arise. Some environmental strides were made, such as the banning of lead-based paint and leaded gasoline in the 20th century. However, the prioritization of industrial production over environmental protection meant that many environmental issues were left to post-Soviet institutions, particularly air and water pollution in the Northern regions where industrialism was heaviest. The Northern countries of Central Europe, including Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia formed what is referred to as the "black triangle" due to their heavy use of brown coal for energy. Environmental degradation in the former Soviet Union is attributed to rapid industrialization and a lack of institutions that were able to curb pollution levels. Many republics of the Soviet Union experienced soil degradation due to collective farming In the 1970s, a Soviet study revealed vast technological inefficiencies in the USSR: compared to the West, the USSR created double the amount of pollutants for each product produced, and quadruple the amount of pollution for each car. The Soviet regime also withheld information regarding the environmental problems facing them, and when these problems became evident to the public, authorities continued to attribute them to capitalism. The Chernobyl disaster was a turning point in which the Soviets had to take responsibility for a huge environmental disaster amid pressures to disclose information regarding its causes and consequences, and this led to a broader discussion about the state of the environment as well as to concerns about nuclear energy. As general unrest grew in the final years of the Soviet Union, the public began to demand environmental reform as part of their resistance to Communism. Many citizens wanted to capitalize on the political turnover to achieve an environmentalist agenda. There was a push away from coal and towards cleaner forms of energy in the 1980s, and 1986–1987 saw the first wave of environmental protests. Village Prose literature by authors such as Valentin Rasputin fostered an environmentalist sentiment. The Soviet "Green Front" was a populist environmental movement that had five subgroups: the Social-Ecological Union which promoted environmental solutions based in ecological practice, the Ecological Union which advocated for greater monitoring of pollution, the Ecological Foundation that sought to create funds through pollution taxes, the Ecological Society of the Soviet Union that called for a return to the Russian way of life that was closely connected to nature, and the All-Union Movement of Greens which was a culminating body of the four preceding groups. Russian oil-drilling and the military were among the things they took issue with. Critics of the Green Front opposed their effects on the chemical industry and claimed that it led to reduced commercial product availability of items such as soap, which was in very short supply in the late 1980s, and restricted access to pharmaceutical goods.
It was expected that the transition to post-Soviet society would bring about environmental change from both democratic governments and NGOs, but the dissolution of the Soviet Union had both positive and negative effects on the environment. Transition brought about numerous changes that had both positive and negative environmental effects. The abandonment of croplands following dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the creation of carbon sinks. Industrial activity drastically decreased, which reduced air pollution even as the economy took an upturn. However, the introduction of a capitalist market caused new environmental problems: the increase in privately owned cars and the infrastructure changes to accommodate them, the increase in consumerism with no waste management to handle its byproducts, and the poorly planned construction of retail sites. Environmental clean-up efforts by post-Soviet regimes included institutional changes through the creation of or reformation of environmental agencies, and legislative changes through the introduction of new environmental regulations and their enforcement. However, some contend that the efficacy of these reforms was curtailed by economic troubles in the 1990s. New environmental standards were sometimes used by governments to lower preexisting ones, and many of the post-Soviet initiatives have been criticized as "neoliberal" for their basis in free market principles and belief that the market would correct for environmental problems. Technological innovation was generally directed towards "end-of-pipe" technologies, which deal with the clean-up of emissions and their byproducts rather than the reduction of emissions.
Nongovernmental environmental organizations did not exist under the Soviet Union. Rather, some republics had state and local institutions for environmental oversight where citizens could voice concerns, but open criticism of the state was prohibited. Conservation brigades, otherwise known as druzhiny, engaged in preservationist and recreational outdoor activities. However, environmental damage and openings in political freedom in the 1980s led to greater grassroots activism. The Chernobyl disaster of 1986, its cover-up by national, republic and local government officials, and its environmental and health effects spurred many to action. General dissatisfaction with the socialist regime and a push for democratization took an environmental focus. As Soviet citizens became more comfortable with the Gorbachev-era ideals of glasnost and perestroika in the late 20th century, environmentalists became more outspoken in their demands, and radical splinter groups formed in the late 1980s. The opening of borders led to the spread of ideas and partnership with international environmental NGOs who were able to visit and converse with environmentalists of post-Soviet nations. The conservation state institutions from the Soviet era continued to exist into the post-Soviet era but experienced difficulty getting funding due to their connection with the socialist regime in national memory. New environmental NGOs had challenges receiving funding as well as organizing, and the NGOs that survived were not as influential on national decision-making as the state. Many NGOs expressed disappointment with the lack of substantial environmental change during times of political transformation. It has also been contended that environmental issues are of little importance to Russian citizens today. Many former-Soviet citizens abandoned their earlier interest in the environment after the achievement of independence, while continued demands for environmental reform were suppressed.
Russia has an expansive amount of land which contains a high amount of natural resources and biodiversity. Protected natural areas, or zapovedniki, were created under the Soviet Union. Soviet leaders attributed former pollution and environmental degradation in Russia to private enterprise and capitalism. However, environmental problems arose in Russia under the Soviets because industrialization was favored over environmentalism, and there was little discussion on how to properly use resources and they were depreciated. The task of environmental governance was distributed among 15 different ministries. There is controversy among academics as to whether environmental destruction under the Soviet Union can be attributed more to Marxist ideology or to the industrialization push.
In 1988, the Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers formed the USSR Union Republic State Committee for Environmental Control, or the Goskompriroda. The intention of this institution was resource management and environmental testing and oversight. Eventually, however, the Goskompriroda was accused of holding "entrepreneurial interests," particularly related to nuclear power. The 1990s saw experiments in taxing pollution of various forms, though this was largely ineffective due to the low charge levels and inflation, as well as more areas of protected land, but there was difficulty overseeing these areas due to small budgets. In 1991, the Federal Act on the Protection of the Natural Environment was passed in the independent Russian Federation, and the Goskompriroda became the Ministry of the Environment, or the Minpriroda, and developed sustainable development goals. In 1996, Yeltsin demoted the Ministry of the Environment to the State Committee on Environmental Protection, and in 2000 Putin ended the State Committee on Environmental Protection and the Federal Forestry Service and tasked the Ministry of Natural Resources with their responsibilities. In 2001, to the ire of many environmental advocates, Russia passed a law that allowed the acceptance, treatment, and storage of nuclear fuel from other nations for profit. The Environmental Doctrine was passed in 2002, the Water Code was passed in 2006, and the Forest Code was passed in 2007, though these policies have been critiqued for the difficulty in enforcing them. Today, Russia has a low population density with most citizens gathered in the cities, so environmental degradation is concentrated in certain areas. Putin is criticized by environmental advocates for prioritizing economic gain over environmental protection, and there are high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and frequent oil spills.
Ukraine is made up of a diverse landscape consisting of plains, temperate forest and mountains, five densely populated cities, and agricultural land that makes up 70% of the country. Ukraine heavily increased industrial and agricultural production in the Soviet period, which had negative effects on the environment, as did the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Many of these issues have not been addressed post-independence due to lack of funding. Since independence, Ukraine has experienced a decrease in agricultural and industrial productivity and an increase in diseases, birth abnormalities and child mortality, claimed to have been caused at least in part from the Chernobyl disaster and from polluted water and air. The number of cars in Ukraine has increased post-independence. Sewage waste has increased, but there has been no increase in wastewater treatment facilities to accommodate it, diverting the waste into natural bodies of water; the Black and Azov seas have been polluted by wastewater, though this occurs less with the reduction of industry; agricultural runoff has led to decreased fish populations, particularly in the Azov Sea. The damming of the Dnipro for hydroelectric power caused flooding in local and residential areas, though the river has been recovering from contamination caused by the Chernobyl disaster. Radioactive waste remains from the Chernobyl accident, the uranium industry, mining and industrial processing. There are numerous environmental agencies in Ukraine. In 1991, the Ukrainian Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) was formed. It manages the environment and its resources, but it has experienced decreased funding and staff since 1996. There is also the Ministry for Forestry, the State Committee on Geology and Natural Resource Use, the State Committee on Water Management, the State Committee on Land Use, the Health Ministry, the Road Traffic Inspectorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the State Committee on Hydrometeorology. Environmental education was also introduced into the school curriculum in the 1990s by the Ministry of Education. Zelenyi svit, or "Green World", was a successful Ukrainian environmental organization whose mission was to hold the Ukrainian government accountable for their environmental failings, particularly the Chernobyl disaster, and to protect the Azov Sea through preventing construction of the Danube-Dnieper Canal.
Proper water resource management is a significant environmental concern in the post-Soviet nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and the Karakalpakstan region, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Central Asia has an arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. Once within the USSR, the Aral Sea Basin now crosses the geopolitical boundaries of these independent nations. Along with the Aral Sea Basin, Central Asia nations also extract freshwater from the Syr Darya, Amu Darya and Zeravshan rivers. These rivers receive the snowmelt of surrounding mountains.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent states kept their Soviet-era internal administrative structure but were unpracticed in cross-national natural resource management. This has led to conflict regarding proper water allocation to meet the agricultural, industrial and consumer demands of these nations. Water quality degradation, diversion and withdrawal has led to increased insecurity and conflict.
Most of the water is used for irrigation of agriculture, with Uzbekistan the largest user of agricultural water. Uzbekistan has double the population of its fellow nations and uses 3/5 of regional water supplies. Together, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan use twice the amount of water for industrial activities used by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The Interstate Coordinating Commission for Water Resources was formed in 1991 to allocate water from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya but has had difficulty distributing water fairly among nations due to limited funding and physical infrastructure. This has led to conflict between the states.
To alleviate the stress on water resources in Central Asia, international organizations looking at the situation have advocated for creation of a river basin commission to represent each nation, equitably distribute water, and peacefully resolve conflicts. It has also been suggested that each nation take responsibility by limiting its downstream environmental effects through reducing agricultural runoff, informing fellow nations of proposed actions which may impact water quality and supply, and sharing data regarding these natural water sources.
The three Baltic countries—Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania—were de facto part of the Soviet Union after WWII until they restored independence in 1991. Afterwards, they have had difficulty acquiring fuels and meeting their energy needs. For this reason, they were reliant on Russian oil, and did not have the capacity to acquire fuel from other producers, which had led to frequent fuel shortages. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania primarily used fossil fuels for energy including imported gas, oil and petroleum products. The Baltic states used fuels with high amounts of sulfur and pollutants, which has had a negative effect on the environment. Power plants constructed in the Baltic states under the USSR were inefficient, as they were designed to power the entire northwestern region of Soviet territory. During this time, environmental monitoring and regulation were controlled at the local level, but the Baltic states had little influence over the state-managed industrial activities in their area.
Concern for the environment fueled a desire for independence from the USSR. Since declaring independence, the energy consumption of the Baltic states has declined due to a decrease in industrial activity, and each nation has created its own environmental oversight body: the Ministry of Environment in Estonia, the Environmental Protection Committee in Latvia, and the Environmental Protection Department in Latvia, all of which were under the legislative branch but independent from executive government. Air pollution was high in the Baltic states due to the high sulfur and other pollutants emitted from their fuel sources. Water pollution was also considerable due to agricultural and industrial activity, as well as the legacy of Soviet military installations. Emission charges were enacted in the Baltic states to reduce pollution levels.
Northeastern Estonia and the Narva region in particular was the site of an oil-shale industry which provided electricity and heat. Estonia was the only nation to have ever had an oil-shale based energy system. Mining for oil-shale caused Estonia to have the highest amounts of pollution in the Baltic states. Surrounding nations pressured Estonia to reduce its emissions, but a lack of desulfurization equipment has forced Estonia to instead lower its energy production, which has hurt the nation economically. Water pollution has also been considered among the worst of Estonia's environmental problems because it does not have the infrastructure to effectively treat as much sewage as is created.
Latvia produces the least amount of power and pollution and has the highest amount of forest damage of all the Baltic states.
Lithuania is the largest producer of electricity of all three Baltic states. Lithuania's land area is roughly 31% forested and is both state and privately owned. Under the USSR, forest and other natural resources were state-owned and centrally managed. The State determined how resources would be used and excluded the public from influencing forest policy. The transition to a post-Soviet political and economic system led to privatization of forests and a market economy. Today, Lithuania's forests are managed democratically and sustainably so as to preserve biodiversity and forest resources.
Largest population centres of Post-Soviet states
Current population, city proper
|Rank||City name||Country||Pop.||Rank||City name||Country||Pop.|
|1||Moscow||Russia||13,010,112 (2021)||11||Astana||Kazakhstan||1,350,228 (2022)|
|2||Saint-Petersburg||Russia||5,601,911 (2021)||12||Kazan||Russia||1,308,660 (2021)|
|3||Kyiv||Ukraine||2,952,301 (2021)||13||Nizhny Novgorod||Russia||1,228,199 (2021)|
|4||Tashkent||Uzbekistan||2,909,466 (2022)||14||Tbilisi||Georgia||1,202,731 (2021)|
|5||Baku||Azerbaijan||2,293,100 (2020)||15||Dushanbe||Tajikistan||1,201,800 (2022)|
|6||Almaty||Kazakhstan||2,147,233 (2022)||16||Chelyabinsk||Russia||1,189,525 (2021)|
|7||Minsk||Belarus||1,995,471 (2021)||17||Krasnoyarsk||Russia||1,187,771 (2021)|
|8||Novosibirsk||Russia||1,633,595 (2021)||18||Samara||Russia||1,173,299 (2021)|
|9||Yekaterinburg||Russia||1,544,376 (2021)||19||Ufa||Russia||1,144,809 (2021)|
|10||Kharkiv||Ukraine||1,421,125 (2022)||20||Rostov-on-Don||Russia||1,142,162 (2021)|
Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union a certain number of people (predominantly people around the age of ~ 55–80, which is most likely due to the USSR's peak performance in the time of Brezhnev) have expressed a longing for the Soviet period and its values. The level of post-Soviet nostalgia varies across the former republics. For example, certain groups of people may blend the Soviet and post-Soviet experience in their daily lives.[clarification needed]
A 2009 Pew Research Center poll showed that 62% of Ukrainians felt that their lives were worse off after 1989, when free markets were made dominant. A follow-up poll by Pew Research Center in 2011 showed that 45% of Lithuanians, 42% of Russians, and 34% of Ukrainians approved of the change to a post-Soviet market economy.
According to July 2012 polling in Ukraine by RATING, 42% of respondents supported the formation of a unified state of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus; earlier in 2012 this support had been 48%.
Polls of Russian citizens conducted by Levada Center in November of 2016, 2017, and 2018 showed that a majority viewed the collapse of the USSR negatively (56%, 58%, and 66% respectively) and felt that it could have been avoided (51%, 52%, and 60% respectively). The 2018 figure of 66% who regretted the USSR's collapse was the highest since 2004. A 2019 poll found that 59% of Russians felt that the Soviet government "took care of ordinary people". Joseph Stalin's favorability also hit record highs that same year.
Various regional structures have emerged in the post-Soviet geography, which is fragmented in political and geopolitical terms. The first of these was the Independent State Society (CIS), which included former Soviet countries outside the Baltic countries. The failure of the CIS to meet the foreign policy needs of many post-Soviet countries has set the stage for a new regional integration. At the initiative of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, a GUAM organization was established in Strasbourg on 10 October 1997. The purpose and principles of the organization were determined at the first summit of GUAM on 7 June 2001 in Yalta. The countries participating in the GUAM aimed to maintain their national independence and sovereignty and to increase their maneuverability against Russia.
Ghodsee, who had conducted much of her research in the Balkans or East Germany among women and ethnic minorities, believed that Milanović's findings were essentially correct but were most likely underestimating the negative impacts of transition by focusing only on GDP, inequality, and democratic consolidation. Orenstein, on the other hand, whose early career was spent conducting research on the transition process in Poland and the Czech Republic, believed that Milanović's findings were overly pessimistic. Poland had done spectacularly well and living standards had increased in many countries.
Signed agreement opens up new possibilities for Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, starting from 1st January 2015
Kyrgyzstan is among the member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEC). Kyrgyzstan will participate in the governing bodies of the EAEC since the start of the Union – from 1 January 2015.
Eurasian Economic Union added December 23 Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday a signed a treaty to join the Eurasian Economic Union, expanding the membership of Moscow-led project to five even as its unity is strained by the market turmoil gripping Russia.
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan agreed to a January 1 inauguration.
But on 19 August 1990, the Gagauz elite, led by President Stepan Topal and Supreme Soviet Chairperson Mihail Kendighelean, quickly took the next step, declaring Gagauzia to be independent of Moldova and subject only to central Soviet authority
On 12 November 1989, a "Gagauz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic" was proclaimed by an assembly in Comrat ... In reaction to the Moldovan declaration of sovereignty, on 19 August 1990 the Gagauz leadership proclaimed a "Gagauz Soviet Socialist Republic", which would be independent from Moldova, but part of the Soviet Union ... on 23 December 1994 the Moldovan Parliament passed the "Law on the Special Juridical Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri)"
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According to the first point of its declaration, the Gagauz Republic "is a sovereign, socialist, soviet and multinational state
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