TIMELINE OF MAJOR EVENTS IN THE 1980s AND 90s IN THE SOVIET UNION AND RUSSIA

EARLY 1980s

1980 January: Sakharov exiled to Gor'kiy.

August: Summer Olympics held in Moscow and boycotted by United States and other Western nations.

1981 February: CPSU holds its Twenty-Sixth Party Congress.

1982 June: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks begin.

November: Brezhnev dies; Yuriy V. Andropov named general secretary.

1983 September: Soviet fighter aircraft downs South Korean civilian airliner KAL 007 near Sakhalin Island.

Mid 1980s

1984 February: Andropov dies; Konstantin U. Chernenko becomes general secretary.

1985 March: Chernenko dies; Mikhail S. Gorbachev becomes general secretary.

November: Gorbachev meets with President Ronald W. Reagan in Geneva.

1986 February-March: CPSU holds its Twenty-Seventh Party Congress.

April: Nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl' releases large amounts of radiation over Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia.

Glasnost launched.

October: Gorbachev and Reagan hold summit at Reykjavik.

December: Ethnic riots break out in Alma-Ata.

1987 January: Gorbachev launches perestroika.

December: Soviet Union and United States sign Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).

1988

1988 Winter: Ethnic disturbances begin in Caucasus.

May: Soviet authorities stop jamming Voice of America broadcasts.

May-June: Reagan visits Moscow.

June: Millennium of establishment of Christianity in Kievan Rus' celebrated in Moscow.

June-July: CPSU's Nineteenth Party Conference tests limits of glasnost and perestroika in unprecedented discussions.

October: Gorbachev replaces Andrey Gromyko as chairman of Presidium of Supreme Soviet; Gromyko retires, and others are removed from Politburo.

December: Supreme Soviet dissolves itself, preparing way for new elected parliament.

1989

1989 February: Soviet combat forces complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

March-April: Initial and runoff elections held for the 2,250 seats in Congress of People's Deputies (CPD); many reform candidates, including Boris N. Yeltsin, win seats.

April: Soviet troops break up rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, killing at least twenty civilians.

May: CPD openly criticizes past and present regimes; Gorbachev elected by CPD to new position of chairman of Supreme Soviet.

June: Free elections in Poland begin rapid decline of Soviet Union's empire in Central Europe.

July: Coal miners strike in Russia and Ukraine.

August: Nationalist demonstrations in Chisinau, Moldavia, lead to reinstatement of Romanian as official language of republic. Russians and Ukrainians living along Dnestr River go on strike, demanding autonomy.

Soviet Union admits existence of secret protocols to 1939 Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact, which allotted to Soviet Union the Baltic countries, parts of then eastern Poland, and Moldavia.

Mass exodus from East Germany begins.

September: Ukrainian Popular Movement for Perestroika (Rukh) holds founding congress in Kiev.

October: Mass protests take place in Berlin and Leipzig.

November: Berlin Wall falls. Bulgaria's Todor Zhivkov deposed. Communist party of Czechoslovakia falls from power.

December: Violent revolution in Romania. Nicolae Ceaucescu arrested, tried, and shot.

CPD condemns Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact and secret protocols.

Lithuanian Communist Party leaves CPSU.

Latvian parliament deletes from its constitution reference to communist party's "leading role." : At hasty shipboard summit off Malta, Gorbachev and United States president George H.W. Bush declare Cold War ended.

1990

1990 January: Azerbaijani demonstrators on Soviet side of border with Iran dismantle border posts.

Gorbachev fails to heal rift with Lithuanian communists.

Anti-Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan. Gorbachev sends troops to Baku.

February: Central Committee of CPSU votes to strike Article 6, which guarantees leading role of communist party, from Soviet constitution.

March: In elections for Supreme Soviet of Russian Republic, Yeltsin wins seat.

Newly elected Lithuanian parliament declares independence.

Estonian parliament declares itself in a state of transition to independence.

May: Latvian parliament votes to declare independence after unspecified transition period.

Anti-Soviet demonstrations break out in and around Yerevan.

Yeltsin becomes chairman of Supreme Soviet of Russian Republic.

June: Communists in Russian Republic vote to form Communist Party of the Russian Republic.

Russia, Uzbekistan, and Moldavia issue declarations of sovereignty. By October most of the other Soviet republics have done likewise.

July: Twenty-Eighth Party Congress: Yeltsin quits CPSU; Politburo stripped of almost all meaning.

Meeting of Gorbachev and West German chancellor Helmut Kohl in Stavropol'. German unification within North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secured.

Soviet government and republics open negotiations on a new treaty of union.

August: Russia and Lithuania sign agreement on trade and economic cooperation.

Armenia declares independence.

October: Germany united; Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty) signed in Paris.

Parliament of Russian Republic passes resolution proclaiming that no Soviet law can take effect in the republic without republican parliamentary approval.

Parliament of Russian Republic approves radical economic reform plan, thereby undercutting all-union Supreme Soviet's economic reform package.

Gorbachev awarded Nobel Prize for peace.

November: Violence breaks out in Moldavia between Moldavians and Russian and Ukrainian separatists.

Gorbachev proposes new union treaty.

December: Eduard Shevardnadze resigns as minister of foreign affairs, warning of oncoming dictatorship.

Parliament of Russian Republic votes to contribute to Soviet budget less than one-tenth of central government's request.

1991

1991 January: Soviet crackdown on Lithuanian and Latvian independence movements.

Soviet Ministry of Defense announces plan to send troops to seven union republics to enforce military conscription and to round up draft dodgers.

Russian Republic and the Baltic republics sign mutual security pact.

February: Baltic countries hold nonbinding plebiscites as demonstration of their people's will to secede from Soviet Union.

March: Coal miners go on strike in Ukraine, Kazakstan, Arctic mines, and Siberia.

Mass pro-Yeltsin rallies in Moscow.

Referendum held on preservation of Soviet Union: 70 percent vote to remain in union, but Armenia, Georgia, Moldavia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia boycott.

Warsaw Pact officially dissolves.

April: Georgia declares independence.

Russian parliament grants Yeltsin emergency powers.

May: Yeltsin gains control over coal mines in Russian Republic.

Russian government establishes foreign ministry and internal security organization. Russian television begins broadcasting on second all-union channel.

June: By universal suffrage, Yeltsin elected president of Russian Republic.

Last Soviet troops leave Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Gorbachev and leaders of seven Soviet republics sign draft union treaty.

July: Yeltsin bans political activity at workplaces and government establishments in Russian Republic; Gorbachev signs START I agreement in Moscow with United States president Bush.

August: Hard-line officials attempt to unseat Gorbachev government; coup fails after three days, elevating Yeltsin's prestige.

Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyz Republic declare independence. Armenia and Tajikistan follow in September, Turkmenistan in October, and Kazakstan in December.

October: Dzhokar Dudayev elected president of newly declared Chechen Republic.

November: Russian parliament grants Yeltsin sweeping powers to introduce radical economic reform. Yeltsin cuts off Russian funding of Soviet central ministries.

Chechens demand independence. Ingush members of Chechen National Congress resign.

Russia gains control of Soviet natural resources; Yeltsin places Russian economy above that of Soviet Union, ending possibility of Russia remaining in union.

Gorbachev fails to win support of republics for new union treaty.

December: Presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia meet in Minsk and proclaim initial Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Yeltsin meets with Soviet defense officials and army commanders to gain support for CIS.

Russian foreign minister Andrey Kozyrev asks United States secretary of state James Baker to recognize independence of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.

Gorbachev announces that at year's end all central government structures will cease to exist.

Eleven republics form CIS.

Soviet Union ceases to exist. Russian flag rises over Kremlin. Control of nuclear arsenal handed over to Yeltsin.

1992

1992 January: Russian government lifts price controls on almost all goods.

Beginning of rift between Yeltsin and speaker of Russian Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov and Russian vice president Aleksandr Rutskoy.

February: First United States-Russia summit.

International airlift of food and medical supplies to Russian cities begins.

March: Fighting breaks out between Moldovan forces and Russian and Ukrainian separatists along Dnestr River.

Eighteen of twenty autonomous republics within Russian Federation sign Federation Treaty. Tatarstan and Chechnya refuse.

April: At first post-Soviet session of Russian CPD, Yeltsin fends off vote of no-confidence in his economic program. CPD also changes name of Russian Socialist Federation of Soviet Republics to Russian Federation.

Yeltsin calls for a referendum on new constitution that would abolish Russian CPD.

May: Formation of Russian armed forces. Army general Pavel Grachev appointed minister of defense.

Ten of the eleven CIS presidents sign mutual security treaty in Tashkent. Treaty acknowledges demise of unified CIS armed forces.

United States and all four post-Soviet nuclear states vow to comply with START agreement.

June: Russia joins International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Russian Supreme Soviet establishes Republic of Ingushetia within Russian Federation.

Russian troops complete withdrawal from Republic of Chechnya.

General Aleksandr Lebed' takes command of 14th Army in Moldova.

July: Yeltsin makes first appearance at Group of Seven (G-7) meeting.

Russian Supreme Soviet ratifies CFE Treaty.

August: Black Sea Fleet evacuates 1,700 Russians from Sukhumi in civil-war-torn Georgia.

September: Russia completes troop withdrawal from Mongolia.

October: Russia launches privatization.

Last Russian combat troops leave Poland.

November: Yeltsin declares state of emergency in North Ossetia and Ingushetia in order to halt outbreak of ethnic conflicts.

Russian troops attack Georgian forces deployed in Abkhazia.

Russian troops enter Ingushetia.

December: Seventh Russian CPD opens. Yeltsin and parliament clash over economic reform and powers. Viktor Chernomyrdin becomes prime minister. Yeltsin and congress agree to hold referendum on presidential power. Part of same deal grants Yeltsin extraordinary powers.

: Russia and China pull most of their troops back 100 kilometers along common border.

1993

1993 March: CPD revokes December 1992 deal with Yeltsin, who then attempts to impose special rule, but fails.

Russian troops deployed in Tajikistan as part of CIS peacekeeping operation.

April: Referendum approves Yeltsin as president and Yeltsin's social and economic programs.

Yeltsin and CPD issue differing draft versions of new Russian constitution.

July: Constitutional assembly passes draft Russian constitution worked out by conciliatory committee.

Parliament annuls presidential decrees on economic reforms.

Marshal Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov, having resigned as commander in chief of CIS joint forces, hands over his launch authorization codes to Russian defense minister Grachev.

Russian Central Bank (RCB) announces withdrawal from circulation of Soviet and Russian banknotes issued between 1961 and 1992. Yeltsin eases some of RCB's provisions.

Yeltsin counters parliament's suspension of privatization. Two weeks later, parliament again suspends privatization. Yeltsin issues decree continuing program.

August: Yeltsin formally requests that parliament hold early elections.

September: Yeltsin suspends Vice President Rutskoy based on charges of corruption.

Yeltsin dissolves the CPD and Supreme Soviet and sets date for elections in December.

Supreme Soviet votes to impeach Yeltsin and swears in Rutskoy as president; CPD confirms decisions.

Clashes in Moscow between Yeltsin and Supreme Soviet supporters.

October: Church mediation of government split collapses; further clashes on Moscow streets.

Top leaders of opposition surrender. Sniper fire continues for several days.

Russia officially asks for revisions to CFE Treaty.

Yeltsin suspends Constitutional Court and disbands city, district, and village soviets.

November: Russian troops land in Abkhazia.

December: Parliamentary elections and referendum on new constitution are held. Constitution approved. Chechnya does not participate in elections.

Yeltsin and Turkmenistan's president Saparmyrat Niyazov sign accord on dual citizenship, first such agreement between Soviet successor states.

1994

1994 January: Trilateral agreement among Russia, Ukraine, and United States prepares for denuclearizing Ukraine's armed forces.

: Chernomyrdin states that radical economic reform has come to an end in Russia. Reformers quit posts. Western advisers withdraw their services as advisers to Russian government.

February: United States Central Intelligence Agency arrests Aldrich Ames on charges of spying for Soviet Union and Russia.

State Duma (lower house of parliament beginning with 1993 election) grants amnesty to leaders of 1991 coup against Gorbachev and leaders of parliamentary revolt of October 1993.

Yeltsin gives speech calling for continued radical restructuring of economy.

April: Russia and Belarus agree to monetary union.

Central Asian republics, Georgia, and Armenia allow Russian participation in patrolling their borders.

Political leaders meet to sign Civic Accord, which calls on signatories to refrain from violence in pursuing political goals. Three of 248 participants refuse to sign, among them Gennadiy Zyuganov, leader of Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).

June: Yeltsin accelerates market reforms.

Foreign Minister Kozyrev signs NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) accord.

July: Russian and United States troops conduct joint peacekeeping exercise in Orenburg, Russia. United States conducts maneuvers in Black Sea with Russia, Ukraine, and other Black Sea countries.

Russian government issues statement that situation in Chechnya is getting out of control.

August: Last Russian troops leave Germany, Estonia, and Latvia.

September: Fighting breaks out in Chechnya between Dudayev's and opposition forces.

October: Ruble loses one-fifth of its value in one day.

Chernomyrdin and Prime Minister Sangheli of Moldova sign agreement on withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova.

November: Dudayev proclaims martial law throughout republic and mobilizes all men aged seventeen and older.

Yeltsin issues ultimatum to warring parties in Chechnya to lay down their arms.

December: Kozyrev suspends Russia's participation in PfP.

Russian armored columns enter Chechnya.

1995

1995 January: Russia and Kazakstan agree to unify their armies by end of 1995.

April: Human rights activist Sergey Kovalev estimates 10,000 Russian soldiers and 25,000 Chechen civilians killed in Chechnya since 1994.

June: State Duma votes no-confidence in Government (cabinet). Second no-confidence vote fails in State Duma.

July: Yeltsin hospitalized, returns to work in August.

October: Yeltsin again hospitalized, reappears in November.

December: In parliamentary elections, communists and nationalists gain strength, reformists split and in decline.

1996 January: Yeltsin replaces Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev with Yevgeniy Primakov. Leading liberal reformists dismissed or resign.

March: After slowdown in privatization and increase in government spending, Russia granted loan agreement worth US$10 billion by IMF.

Leaders of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus sign customs union treaty in Moscow.

April: Russia and Belarus sign union treaty with substantial elements of reunification.

Dzhokar Dudayev killed in rocket attack in Chechnya.

May: Chechens sign cease-fire agreement, whose terms are immediately violated; fighting resumes.

June: Yeltsin and Zyuganov, candidate of KPRF, finish first and second, respectively, in first round of presidential elections, qualifying them for second round.

Yeltsin fires Grachev and other senior hard-line officials and appoints Lebed' chief of Security Council.

Yeltsin disappears from public view because of undisclosed illness.

July: Yeltsin defeats Zyuganov in second round of presidential election, 54 percent to 40 percent.

Fighting in Chechnya intensifies.

Lebed' associate Igor' Rodionov named minister of defense, promises military reform; Anatoliy Chubays named presidential chief of staff.

Citing failure of Russian economic reform, IMF withholds tranche of 1996 assistance package.

Yeltsin creates civilian Defense Council.

Pravda, voice of communism since 1912, renamed Pravda 5 and begins more objective reporting.

August: Yeltsin staff announces Yeltsin will rest for prolonged period to recover from election campaign.

Chernomyrdin confirmed for second term as prime minister; Yeltsin names new Government with reformists in key positions.

Chechen guerrillas recapture Chechen capital Groznyy, exposing weakness of Russian military; Lebed' achieves cease-fire in direct talks with Chechen leaders.

IMF resumes economic assistance payments.

Bellona Foundation report exposes mishandling of nuclear materials in Arctic regions.

September: As cease-fire terms hold, first Russian troops leave Chechnya.

NATO offers Russia special terms of military cooperation.

Yeltsin announces he will undergo heart surgery; under pressure, he temporarily cedes military command and control of internal security agencies to Chernomyrdin.

Controversy continues over locus of government authority.

Election cycle begins in subnational jurisdictions, continues through March 1997.

October: Lebed' dismissed as Security Council chief; negotiations with Chechnya continue under Ivan Rybkin.

United States secretary of defense William Perry rebuffed in attempt to gain passage of START II by State Duma.

Government establishes emergency tax commission to improve tax collection; collection rate remains poor in ensuing months.

Chubays begins campaign for compliance of regional laws with federal constitution.

October-December: Escalating conflict between military and civilian defense officials over military reform methods.

November: Russia's first bond issue on international market nets US$1 billion.

Yeltsin undergoes successful open-heart surgery.

Primakov visits China, Japan, and Mongolia to expand markets.

Third Kilo-class submarine sold to Iran.

Yeltsin remains out of public view until February 1997, his administration inactive; opposition calls for impeachment on health grounds.

December: Four-person Consultative Council formed to smooth differences between Government and parliament.

Primakov agrees to negotiate charter giving Russia special status with NATO.

Federation Council (upper house of parliament since 1993 elections) claims Ukrainian port of Sevastopol' as Russian territory, reopening dispute with Ukraine.

1997

1997 January: Long-delayed new Criminal Code goes into effect.

State Duma passes 1997 budget after long discussions and amendments; experts call revenue projections unrealistic.

Opposing military reform programs issued by Ministry of Defense and civilian Defense Council.

Presidential and legislative elections in Chechnya; moderate Aslan Maskhadov wins presidency on independence platform.

Yeltsin approves Russia's participation in NATO's Bosnia peacekeeping force until 1998.

IMF withholds loan payment because of continued tax system problems.

February: Last Russian troops leave Chechnya.

NATO talks with Russia bring modification of CFE Treaty demands on Russia, subject to ratification by members.

February-March: NATO chief Javier Solana visits several CIS nations, which entertain closer NATO ties.

March: Yeltsin reestablishes his leadership with vigorous state of the federation speech.

Government streamlining begins with appointments of Chubays and Boris Nemtsov to powerful positions; Chernomyrdin's power wanes.

Second issue of Russian bonds sold on international market; third issue scheduled.

Nationwide labor action gains lukewarm participation; uncoordinated local actions intensify.

At CIS summit, Yeltsin fails to reassert Russian domination as several members take independent positions.

Helsinki summit with President William J. Clinton yields some economic agreements, continued discord on NATO expansion.

Bilateral treaty reaffirms integration of Russia and Belarus.

April: Moscow summit with Chinese president Jiang Zemin expresses disapproval of United States world domination, yields agreement to reduce troops along shared border.

State Duma postpones ratification of Chemical Weapons Convention following United States Congress ratification.

Government proposal to limit government housing subsidies brings strong political opposition.

Prompted by revenue shortages, Finance Minister Chubays submits budget revision to State Duma, cutting US$19 billion in spending.

May: Peace treaty signed by Russia and Chechnya (Chechnya-Ichkeria); Chechen independence issue remains unresolved.

Igor' Sergeyev replaces Igor' Rodionov as minister of defense following Rodianov's open conflict with other defense authorities.

New privatization programs begin in housing, natural gas, railroads, and electric power.

Security Council issues new national security doctrine.

Terms set for new pipeline from Tengiz oil fields (Kazakstan) to Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

Russia signs "founding act" agreement with NATO, allowing participation in NATO decision making; Russia agrees to drop opposition to NATO expansion in Central Europe.

Yeltsin and Ukraine's president Leonid Kuchma sign treaty of friendship and cooperation, nominally settling disputes over territory and ownership of Black Sea Fleet.

June: State Duma recesses for summer without acting on budget-cut proposal, leaving determination of cuts to Government.

Yeltsin names his daughter Tat'yana Dyachenko an official adviser.

Yeltsin participates in Denver G-8 (formerly G-7) meeting as full partner for first time.

Government announces allocation of US$2.9 billion to pay long-overdue pensions.

Government announces sale of shares in six state-owned oil companies to increase revenues.

Under pressure from Yeltsin, Duma approves new tax code aimed at broadening government's revenue base.

June-July: Mishaps aboard Mir space station reinforce international doubts about Russia's space program.

July: Yeltsin declares Russia's economy has "turned the corner" toward growth and stability; statistics show some improvement.

New CFE treaty reduces arms in Europe, does not limit NATO movement into Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland as Russia had demanded.

Russia offers Japan new conditions for development of disputed Kuril Islands; bilateral talks address Japanese investment elsewhere in Russia's Far East.

Constitutinal Court rejects Moscow's residency fees as unconstitutional.

Yeltsin announces large-scale program for military reform and streamlining.

First meeting of NATO-Russia joint council establishes operational procedures.

Yeltsin vetoes law restricting activities of non-Orthodox religions, after both houses of parliament had overwhelmingly passed it, Russian Orthodox Church supported it, and human rights organizations condemned it.

Yeltsin's drive against official corruption thwarted as high officials refuse to divulge personal finances.

August: Pro-Yeltsin party, Our Home Is Russia, shaken by resignation of parliamentary leader Sergey Belyayev.

NATO's Sea Breeze 97 exercise in Ukraine modified from military to humanitarian maneuver after protest by Russia.

Yeltsin announces ruble reform for January 1998, dropping three zeros from denomination of currency.

Government submits privatization plan for 1998 and draft 1998 budget to Sate Duma; budget calls for 2 percent growth in GDP and annual inflation of 5 percent.

Russia and Armenia sign friendship and cooperation treaty tightening military and economic ties.

September: Duma reconvenes; atop agenda are tax reform bill and consideration of 1998 budget proposal.

Shakeups of military establishment continue as Yeltsin dismisses his Defense Council chief, Yuriy Baturin, and reorganizes Rosvooruzheniye, the foreign arms sales cartel.

Overdue tax payments by Gazprom reach US$2.4 billion.

Agreement with Chechnya sets terms for repair of Baku (Azerbaijan)-Novorossiysk pipeline through Chechnya, with October 1997 as completion deadline; negotiations continue on new pipelines from Central Asia westward.

Russia warns NATO against pressure on Bosnian Serb Karadzic faction.

Foreign trade figures for first half of 1997 announced; overall surplus US$18.5 billion, down 3.9 percent from first half 1996, including decrease of 11.7 percent in CIS trade.

Duma passes land code without provision for sale of land by owner, frustrating Yeltsin's long campaign for reform of land ownership.

Worker protests spread across Russia as wage non-payment continues, especially among coal, defense industry, and scientific workers.

Yeltsin signs revised bill on religious organizations after "Christianity" added to list of Russia's "traditional," unrestricted faiths; human rights and religious groups protest.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2016

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