Challenges Facing Post-Soviet States as New Nations

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  • 0:01 Post-Soviet States
  • 0:41 Political Crises
  • 2:06 Cultural & Economic Unity
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will explore several of the challenges that new nations faced after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Then, you will test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Post-Soviet States

Breaking up is hard. You had something nice, then suddenly it's over, but why? And, what do you do now? Great, now you're eating alone, watching movies alone - it's an adjustment. Breaking up is hard, and breaking up an empire is, too.

In 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved and broken up into 15 independent, or single, nations. Nations had to eat alone, watch movies alone, balance their own national budget, and develop a gross domestic product. There were a lot of things that these nations had to figure out; but, let's face it, even though it's hard, sometimes breaking up is just the right thing to do.

Political Crises

In 1990, there was the Soviet Union. Then, in 1991, that massive territory became the independent states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Now, when a nation declares independence and becomes its own state, that sets off a pretty elaborate political process. Nations have to decide who they are and what their national identity, language, policies, economies, and even holidays are going to be.

Luckily, when it comes to highly personal matters of politics and culture, everybody always agrees all the time. No disagreement whatsoever. Wouldn't that be nice? Every post-Soviet state, including Russia, went through a rough transitional period of civil wars and rebellions as political parties fought to establish a foothold in the new country. Major civil wars occurred in Georgia and Tajikistan. Nine regions declared their own independence from the established post-Soviet states. These 'Separatist States' are essentially independent, but have not yet gained full political or legal independence. Three nations also experienced 'Colour Revolutions,' largely peaceful movements that forced a change in leadership after a disputed election.

Cultural and Economic Unity

So, say you become an independent state. You finally develop political stability, but you're still left with other issues. For one - who are you? Not all of these 15 nations existed before their territories were incorporated into the U.S.S.R., and for many people Russian culture and language had been the norm for decades. Three of the post-Soviet nations actually kept Russian as their official language. Religion is another contentious issue, with these states sharing strong Islamic, Orthodox, Catholic, and atheist populations.

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