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  • Kazakhstan is fairly weird country.

  • It spans two continents with territory in both Asia and Europe.

  • Contains the most nuke location anywhere on the Earth here, where 456 nuclear bombs were detonated and they built a brand new capital city in the nineties because they just didn't like the old one.

  • But none of those strange facts are what this video is all about.

  • This video is about how Kazakhstan, a large country in land but with a small population of only 16 million people, briefly became the entire legal Soviet Union.

  • Here's how this happened.

  • By 1991 the Soviet Union was collapsing from the inside.

  • It really began back in the 19 eighties, but some have said that it really all began in 1922 back when the USSR was first created.

  • You see, the Soviet Union was established in the beginning, theoretically as a voluntary union of various different Republics that were each united under a central government in Moscow.

  • As a federation, each of the various Soviet Republics technically retained the right to secede from the USSR.

  • But obviously, for practically all of the Soviet Union's history, this technical right was totally meaningless because the central government in Moscow wouldn't ever allow it.

  • Some Republics like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where themselves forcibly absorbed into the Soviet Union after they were invaded in 1940 in addition to the Soviet Union itself, there was also the Warsaw Pact, created in the aftermath of World War Two, which was composed of East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, all six of which had been invaded by the Red Army, had communism forced upon them and were effectively Soviet satellite states with negligible independence.

  • Although also technically voluntary, membership was truly compulsory because the Soviet army would always respond to any moves it independent from any of the government's like they did against Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

  • The entire order of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe and Central Asia was kept together by force from the central government.

  • But all of that began to change in the late 19 eighties.

  • In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as the new general secretary of the Communist Party, and he quickly began introducing his new policies of glasnost and perestroika into Soviet society.

  • The Soviet economy was lagging significantly behind the West, and Gorbachev initially believed that these policies would help revitalize the Soviet Union, moving ahead into the 21st century.

  • Instead, these policies largely destroyed the country.

  • Mass censorship was reduced.

  • Freedom of speech was tremendously extended.

  • Liberal economic reforms were initiated, with private individuals being able to own their own businesses.

  • For the first time and most importantly for this story, he refused to use the Soviet military anymore to force countries and Republics to remain as members of the system.

  • The 15 Soviet Republics by this point and the six other members of the Warsaw Pact were granted more authority to rule over themselves.

  • The Chernobyl disaster the following year, in 1986 didn't really help things very much, either.

  • After spewing a massive amount of radiation across Belarus and Ukraine, distrust in the Soviet central government was at an all time high.

  • By 1988 Gorbachev was already losing control over to geographic areas in the Soviet Union, the Caucasus and the Baltics.

  • The Armenian and Azerbaijani Republics descended into civil war in ethnic violence between themselves, while the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were utilizing their newfound freedoms to demand independence, asserting that their absorption into the Soviet Union back in 1940 after being invaded was illegal and forced upon them.

  • And critically.

  • On the 16th of November 1988 Estonia declared full sovereignty within the Soviet Union, which meant that their own laws would take precedence over Soviet laws.

  • And they would also quit sending any tax revenues to Moscow, effectively giving themselves full 100% autonomy under previous Soviet rulers that this probably would have been crushed by the Red Army almost immediately.

  • But Gorbachev was just kind of met about it.

  • Later in November, the Soviet ceased jamming foreign radio stations, and in 1989 things began to get extra spicy.

  • CNN was allowed to broadcast in Moscow, and ST censorship effectively became impossible.

  • By July, Lithuania and Latvia had joined with Estonia in declaring their sovereignty ease In June, the anti Soviet Solidarity Party won an overwhelming victory in Poland, which promptly withdrew the country from the Warsaw Pact.

  • And critically, Hungary began to dismantle their border wall fence, with Austria opening up the first hole in the Iron Curtain in decades.

  • At this point, East Germany was still ruled by a hardline Stalinist regime.

  • Their citizens were not allowed to visit the West, but they could travel freely to other Soviet bloc countries like, say, a certain country called Hungary that just dismantle their border fence with the West.

  • Thousands of East Germans traveled to Hungary on vacation and immediately fled into Austria and towards West Germany.

  • Furious, the East German regime demanded that action be taken by the Soviet Union, but Gorbachev critically again refused.

  • In August 2 million Baltic people joined hands to create a massive human chain along the border with the rest of the Soviet Union, advocating for full independence.

  • As the civil war and ethnic violence escalated even further in the Caucasus, Armenia followed suit and declared their own sovereignty the following month.

  • In September, East Germany was facing increasing pressure from its own citizens for democratic reforms.

  • While they're Stalinist leader, Erich Honecker, took the opposite stance of Gorbachev and refused to enact any reforms.

  • He begged Gorbachev to use the Red Army to crush East Germany's opposition, like what they had done in Czechoslovakia and Hungary in the past.

  • But Gorbachev continued to refuse.

  • Instead, Honaker was forced to resign in October, and on the ninth of November, following a very confusing media broadcast, crowds of East Germans flocked to the Berlin Wall and began the process of tearing it all down.

  • The East German communist regime collapsed, and within a year Germany would be reunited again.

  • And for a single year between 1990 1991 Germany and the Soviet Union co existed together on world maps for the first and only time since World War two.

  • And in December of 1989 Romania descended into a violent revolution, also withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and executed their longtime Communist dictator.

  • The next year, in February 1990 the Soviet Union held their first ever relatively free elections in each of the 15 Republics, with the Communist Party losing in six of them.

  • None of the Republics which had declared their sovereignty is were paying any taxes to the central government, which caused the economy to get even worse.

  • And finally, in March, Lithuania became the first of the 15 Soviet Republics to officially announced their succession from the U.

  • S.

  • S.

  • R.

  • Initially, this went unrecognized by Moscow.

  • But two months later, Latvia and Estonia followed suit and announced their own successions as well.

  • Georgia declared their sovereignty in May, and in February of 1991 the remaining members of the Warsaw Pact met in Hungary and decided that their club had no more reason to exist and officially disbanded.

  • Nearly a year after all three Baltic Republics had succeeded, Georgia became the next republic to officially succeed in April of 1991 and finally in June, after leading a growing pro democracy movement, Boris Yeltsin won the historic presidency of the Russian Soviet republic and promptly declared Russian sovereignty from the main Soviet government.

  • Yeltsin was actively struggling against Gorbachev in a sovereignty battle between the Soviet government and the Russian government, and by August, Gorbachev had a plan to save the Soviet Union.

  • He wanted to reform the country into a new, decentralized federation called the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, thus maintaining the USSR acronym.

  • All of the remaining Republics, except for Ukraine, had agreed on the treaty by this point, while Kazakhstan strongly supported it.

  • The Russian Soviet republic was all set to sign the treaty on the 20th of August.

  • But a group of Communist Party hardliners launched a coup the day before on the 19th in an attempt to take the country over from Gorbachev, who they believed was actively destroying the whole Soviet Union.

  • They put Gorbachev under house arrest, attempted to arrest Boris Yeltsin and suspended all political activity.

  • However, Yeltsin rallied his supporters atop a tank in Moscow, and the coup support quickly evaporated.

  • Rather than saving the Soviet Union, the coup radically destabilized the entire country and accelerated its destruction even further.

  • Just two days after the coup fell apart, Ukraine seceded from the Soviet Union amid fears that another coup would have undermined their freedoms.

  • Three days later, Moldova seceded.

  • Four days after that, Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan seceded on the same day.

  • Nine days from then, it was Tajikistan that left 12 more days and Armenia finally left.

  • And about a month after that, Azerbaijan left as well.

  • At the end of October, it was Turkmenistan who succeeded, and by November of 1991 it was only Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan left.

  • On the 10th of December, Belarus succeeded, and on the 12th it was Russia itself who succeeded, which left Kazakhstan as the sole and final remaining member of the Soviet Union.

  • It was all Russia's idea to start this whole operation, but it was Kazakhstan who is going to finish it.

  • So for the next four entire days between the 12th and 16th of December 1991 world maps would have shown Kazakhstan as being the entire Soviet Union, which to me is pretty amusing.

  • But all weird things must eventually come to an end.

  • And so finally, after four days, Kazakhstan as well seceded from the Soviet Union, the U.

  • S S.

  • R theoretically continue to exist as a legal entity with no territory for 10 more days, until the Soviet of the Republics voted it out of existence on the 26th of December 1991 officially dissolving the Soviet Union once and for all.

  • And so, after just over 69 years of existence, the Soviet Union came to a final and bizarre end now.

  • Obviously, the collapse of the Soviet Union is an enormously complicated subject, and I've lost a lot of the nuance over to cram this all into a 12 minute video.

  • However, you can learn a lot more detail and context by watching this spectacular documentary called Afghanistan 1979 which chronicles the entire history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and explains how it became a major contributor to the entire countries.

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That Time When Kazakhstan Was the Entire USSR For 4 Days

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/16
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