Unit 10: 1989: Nonviolence and the End of the Cold War
In the mid 1980s, the Soviet Union underwent extensive political and economic reforms known as Glasnost and Perestroika. Democracy advocates in several East European nations of the Soviet Bloc began to openly challenge communist authorities and communist rule. While the governments initially tried to suppress the opposition, they recognized their efforts were futile. In 1989, a series of fundamentally non-violent revolutions swept Eastern Europe and ended communist rule in these Warsaw Pact countries. Provisional democratic governments took control to arrange free and open elections.
The revolutions of 1989 helped mend relations with the West. In 1991, conservative communist officials in Russia staged a failed coup to regain control of the state. When the people of Moscow resisted these efforts, they revealed the declining power of the communist party. In December 1991 the Soviet Union officially disbanded and Russia's long experiment with communism came to an end.Meanwhile, advocates for democracy in China, inspired by the revolutions in Eastern Europe, staged a major protest in Tiananmen Square in the summer of 1989. However, in China the government used police and military force to violently put down the democracy movement and reestablish firm communist control of the nation.
In this unit, we examine factors that led to successful democratic revolution and analyze the broader social and cultural changes that came about in Eastern Europe and Russia after 1989.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.