Abstract

Nationalism and ethnic pressures contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union, but they were not the primary cause. A qualiªed exception to this argument is Russian elite separatist nationalism, led by Boris Yeltsin, which had a direct impact on Soviet disintegration. This article provides an overview of Soviet policy vis-à-vis nationalities, discusses the surge of nationalism and ethnic pressures in the Soviet Union in 1988­1991, and shows how ethnic unrest and separatist movements weakened the Soviet state. It also emphasizes that the demise of the Soviet Union resulted mainly from three other key factors: 1) Mikhail Gorbachev's failure to establish a viable compact between center and periphery in the early years of his rule; 2) Gorbachev's general unwillingness to use decisive force to quell ethnic and nationalist challenges; and 3) the defection of a core group of Russian elites from the Soviet regime.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1531-3298
Print ISSN
1520-3972
Pages
pp. 81-136
Launched on MUSE
2003-10-23
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.