The post-Soviet states
, also commonly known as the
Former Soviet Union
or former Soviet republics, are the 15 independent nations that split off from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its breakup in December 1991. They were also referred to as the Newly Independent States (NIS), not withstanding that the Baltic states consider themselves to have resumed their pre-World War II sovereignty upon their separation from the Soviet Union.)
[[Image:USSR Republics Numbered
Alphabetically.png|350px|thumb|right|Post-Soviet states in English
States and geographical groupings
[[Image:PostSoviet Regions Map.png|250px|thumb|right|Typical
groupings of the post-Soviet states:
The 15 post-Soviet states are typically divided into the following
five groupings. Each of these regions has its own common set
of traits, owing not only to geographic and cultural factors but
also to that region's history in relation to Russia.
addition, there are a number of de facto independent, but
internationally unrecognized states (see the section Separatist conflicts
Population trends 1970-2007: USSR and
GDP (in US$) 1970-2007: USSR and
The collapse of the Soviet
took place as a result and against the backdrop of
general economic stagnation, even regression. As the Gosplan
, which had deliberately set up production
chains to cross SSR
lines, broke down, the inter-republic economic connections were
also disrupted, leading to even more serious breakdown of the
Most of the formerly Soviet states began the transition to a market economy
1990-1991 and made efforts to rebuild and restructure their
economic systems, with varying results. The process triggered a
severe transition decline, with Gross Domestic Product
by more than 40% between 1990 and 1995. This decline in GDP was
much more intense than the 27% decline that the United States
suffered in the wake of the Great
between 1930 and 1934. The reconfiguration of public
finance in compliance with the principles of market economy
resulted in dramatically reduced spending on health, education and
other social programs, leading to a sharp increase in poverty
The initial transition decline was eventually arrested by the
cumulative effect of market reforms, and after 1995 the economy in
the post-Soviet states began to recover, with GDP switching from
negative to positive growth rates. By 2007, 10 of the 15
post-Soviet states had reached GDP greater than what they had in
1991. Only Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan
had GDP significantly below the 1991 level. The recovery in Russia
was marginal, with GDP in 2006-2007 just nudging above the 1991
level. This could be perceived as failure of capitalism to improve
the standard of living in Russia, and combined with the aftershocks
of the 1998 economic
it led to a return of more interventionist economic
policies by the Putin
Change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in constant prices,
*The year when GDP decline switched to GDP growth.
A number of regional
and cooperating blocs have sprung up since the
dissolution of the
. Only organizations that are mainly (or
completely) composed of post-Soviet states are listed in this
section; organizations with wider memberships are not discussed.
The 15 post-Soviet states are divided in their participation to the
three Baltic states have not sought membership to any of these
post-Soviet organizations, seeking and achieving membership in the
European Union and NATO instead
(only their electricity and rail systems remain closely connected
with former Soviet organizations). The sole exception to the
above has been their recent membership in the Community of Democratic
Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (as well as Belarus) are members
of the CIS and participate in several regional
organizations that have Russia as a primary
mover. Such organizations are the EurAsEc (merged with CACO), CSTO, and the
SCO. The last two
groups only became distinct once Uzbekistan withdrew from GUAM and sought membership in EurAsEc and CSTO.
- Armenia besides its
membership in CIS participates in CSTO
- Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan participate in the CIS but other than that
they mostly cooperate within regional organizations that are not
dominated by Russia. Such
organizations are GUAM and the Community of Democratic
Choice. Although Ukraine is one of the three founding countries
of the CIS, it is legally not a member because
it has never ratified the 1993 CIS Charter.
- Turkmenistan is an associate member of CIS
(having withdrawn from full membership in August 2005) and a member
in the Economic
Cooperation Organization; it has not sought closer integration
in any of the other Western or post-Soviet
- Georgia notified (on August 18, 2008) the CIS executive
organs of its decision to leave the regional organization, and
according to the CIS Charter (sec. 1, art. 9) this decision
will come into force 12 months after the notification date.
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States
consists of 12 former Soviet
that differ in their membership status. As of
September 2008, 9 countries have ratified the CIS charter and are
full CIS members (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), one
country (Turkmenistan) is an associate member, one country
(Georgia) has declared its decision to leave the CIS, and one
country (Ukraine) is a founding and participating country, but
legally not a member country.
Eurasian Economic Community
Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC) was
established by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, having grown out of the CIS Customs Union.
Ukraine and Moldova have observer status in the community, however
Ukraine has declared its desire not to become a full member
Because having common borders with the rest of the
community is a prerequisite for full membership, Moldova is thus
barred from seeking it. Uzbekistan applied for membership in October 2005 , when the process of merging CACO and the Eurasian
Economic Community began; it joined on 25 January
Collective Security Treaty Organization
member states, namely Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia, have
enhanced their military cooperation, establishing the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),
this being an expansion of the previous Collective Security
Treaty (CST). Uzbekistan which (alongside Georgia and Azerbaijan) withdrew
from the CST in 1999, joined GUAM.
Then in 2005 it withdrew
from GUAM and currently it is again seeking closer ties with Russia
(thus in 2006 it has joined EurAsEc and later CSTO). CSTO and
EurAsEc are closely related organizations.
member states, namely Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova established the GUAM group that
was largely seen as intending to counter Russian dominance in the
Notably, these four nations don't participate in any
of the otherregional organizations that sprang up in the region
since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (otherthan the
Union of Russia and Belarus
The Union of Russia and Belarus
formed on April 2, 1996 under the name Commonwealth of Russia
, before being tightened further on December 8,
1999. It was initiated by the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko
. On paper, the
Union of Russia and Belarus intends further integration, beyond the
scope of mere cooperation, including the introduction of the
as a common currency.
Other regional organizations
Economic Cooperation Organization
[[Image:ECO CDC Map.png|200px|right|thumb|
Economic Cooperation Organization was originally
formed in 1985 by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan but in 1992 the organization was expanded to
include Afghanistan and the six primarily Muslim former Soviet
republics: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Community of Democratic Choice
Community of Democratic Choice (CDC) was formed in
December 2005 at the primary instigation of Ukraine and Georgia,
and composed of six post-Soviet states (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova,
and the three Baltic states of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and three other countries of Eastern
Europe (Slovenia, Romania and the Republic of Macedonia).
The Black Sea
(BSF) is a closely related organization.
Just like GUAM
before it, this forum is largely
seen as intending to counteract Russian influence in the area. This
is the only international forum centered in the post-Soviet space
in which the Baltic states also participate. In addition, the other
three post-Soviet states in it are all members of GUAM.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
]]The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
composed of China and five post-Soviet states, namely Russia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organization
was founded in 2001, though its predecessor, the Shanghai
grouping, has existed since 1996. Its aims revolve
around security-related issues.
Post-Soviet states are also members in the following organisations
(but those organisations are not centred with Russia as the main
For economic cooperation
- Central European Free
Trade Agreement (CEFTA) with Moldova (it includes also non
post-soviet countries of the former Yugoslavia; previously, also
included other Central European countries that left CEFTA when
joining the European Union ; CEFTA plays a role in Central Europe
similar to what EFTA provides in Western Europe for non EU-members;
this alliance an economical organization with strong cooperation
with the European Union, for countries that don't want to
participage in EurAsEC centered on Russia but that are seeking
alliances to the West); even if Moldova is the only CEFTA country that is still within a
weakening CIS, it no longer participates to the CSTO for most of
the common security policy (but can't join the EU because of
incompatibility with WEU stability rules and the unsolved problem
of Transnistria) but can still benefit from the Free Trade Area
notably with Romania and Bulgaria (in the EU).
- Black Sea Economic
Cooperation (BSEC) with Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan,
Moldova and Armenia (an economic organisation closely related to
the SCO but more focused regionally to include also Armenia; it
also aims for the hamonious development of democracy for increasing
the commerce in South-East Europe and includes some EU members, so
it can’t be a regional free-trade union).
- The European Union (EU) with the
three Baltic countries that were the first ones to declare
independence from the former USSR and have never joined CIS after
the collapse of USSR (it includes also now some post-communist
countries in Central and Eastern Europe, that have left CEFTA when
entering the EU : Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary,
Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia)
For political integration and security alliances
Pact for South Eastern Europe (SPforSEE) with Moldova (similar
in structure to CEFTA, but does not focus on economy but security,
for those countries that are not NATO members ); this organization
largely cooperates with NATO, and is related to the group of
observers at Western European
North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO), for Baltic countries, Poland, and Central
European countries that have also joined the EU (the EU membership
includes also WEU membership because they follow the CFSP and ESDP policies shared
now by the EU, the WEU and all European NATO members).
- The other remaining countries are those part of the former
Yugoslavia, but their recent conflict and political tensions still
does not allow them to cooperate efficiently for their political
integration and for their mutual security; in addition, they still
don't have full sovereignty in this domain (some of them are still
under surveillance by EU or NATO, as mandated by UNO). They still
need to find an internal stability and they can collaborate
economically with the help of other organizations focusing on
economy or political cooperation and development. However a more
limited cooperation for security is possible through their
membership to the larger (and weaker) OSCE.
- The only exception is Belarus (whose post-soviet democratic
transition did not occur) that still rejects political integration,
and all security alliances with NATO, OSCE, WEU or other countries
in Europe other than Russia (which the process of reintegration of
Belarus has been tightened in almost all domains).
In other domains than free trade and security
European Cooperation Process (SEECP) with Moldova (similar to
SPforSEE, but focuses on political integration than cooperation for
security, and to CEFTA but does not focus on trade).
European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) with Moldova (closely
related to SEECP).
- Central European
Initiative (CEI) with Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus (and also
Central and South-Western European countries in the European Union;
it aims at helping Central European countries to reach the EU
standards and cooperate politically and find a better economic
development and a strong, working but more democratic legal
system); it is the only regional organization where Belarus is
still a member (but the political cooperation with Belarus is
almost stalled, as it is the only Central European country that
balances in favor of stronger cooperation with Russia and against
integration with EU and NATO ; however Belarus remains isolated and
still does not cooperate too in the SCO group lead by Russia and
Sea Forum for Partnership and Dialogue (BSF) with Georgia,
Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Armenia (also non post-soviet
countries that are NATO members, interested in their maintaining
political stability and avoiding conflicts in the region: Romania,
Bulgaria and Turkey, whose first two are also now EU and CEI
members, using EU rules for their political development); however
this organization does not focus on helping countries to join the
EU, but reaching common standards and good governance and internal
stability and democracy like in the CEI.
- (None of these organizations are incompatible with the policy
required for accessing EU membership in the domain of political
cooperation and development).
- Merging the CEI and BSF is desired by Central European
countries, that are members of both (often in addition to EU with
stronger objectives) that would like to simplify the development
process, and also members of the Council of Europe that federates (but at
very slow pace) all European efforts of political cooperation and
development through the various regional organizations).
Regarding political freedom
former Soviet republics, Freedom
's 2006 report listed the following:
Similarly, the Worldwide Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders
recorded the following as regards press
It has been remarked that several post-Soviet states have not
changed leadership since their independence, such as Nursultan Nazarbayev
in Kazakhstan and
in Uzbekistan. All of
these had originally more limited terms but through decrees or
referendums prolonged their stay in office (a practice also
followed by Presidents Alexander
of Belarus and Emomalii
of Tajikistan). Askar Akayev of
Kyrgyzstan had likewise served as President since its independence
until he was forced to resign as a result of the Kyrgyz revolution of 2005.
Turkmenistan ruled from independence until his death in 2006,
creating a personality cult
The issue of dynastical succession has been another element
affecting the politics of some post-Soviet States, with Ilham Aliyev
becoming President of Azerbaijan
after the death of his father Heydar
, and theories about the children of other leaders in
Central Asia also being groomed for succession. 
The participation of Akayev's son and
daughter in the 2005 Kyrgyz parliamentary
boosted fears of dynastic succession being used in
Kyrgyzstan as well, and may have contributed to the anti-Akayev
climate that led to his overthrow.
Most military conflicts in the post-Soviet space have had to do
with the separatist
territories with different ethnic or religious demographics than
the majority of the state they're officially recognized as part
Such territories and resulting military conflicts have so far
Out of these regions, only one has been fully reincorporated into
their respective countries. Adjara was reincorporated into Georgia
and the conflict there has ended peacefully. Separatist leader
fled to Russia where
he was granted asylum.
Chechnya has been involved in two wars, caused by the separatist
forces' desire to make it independent from Russia, and conflict
between the separatists and the federalists still continues.
Currently, Chechnya's official position is as a republic that is
part of the Russian Federation. At the same time there still exists
a self-proclaimed separatist government
recognized by any state. (However, Georgia recognised Ichkeria briefly in the 1990s.
There is a separatist movement within Dagestan, members of which
fought on the side of the Chechen rebels during the raid of
September, 1999. However, that attack was quickly repelled by the
Russian Armed Forces with the help of some locals who considered
the Chechen attack an invasion rather than a liberation.
Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the other hand, have
achieved de facto independence which is only recognized (for
Abkhazia and South Ossetia) by Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela; a
Russian military presence also exists in all three of these
likewise achieved a de facto independence, with Armenian troops
having control of all the territory and even of neighboring parts
of Azerbaijan. In 1994 these four regions have made an agreement of
mutual assistance, and their leaders have in several occasions
reiterated such pledges.  
The separatist conflicts are sometimes called "Frozen conflicts"
since mass bloodshed has subsided, but sentiments and opinions
continue to be passed down to new generations.
Civil wars unrelated to separatist movements have occurred twice in
Since 2003, a number of (largely) peaceful "colour revolutions"
in some post-Soviet states after disputed elections, with popular
protests bringing into power the former opposition.
Russian population in post-Soviet states
There is significant Russophone
population in most of the post-Soviet states, whose political
position as an ethnic minority
varies from country to country. While Belarus, Kazakhstan and
Kyrgyzstan, in addition to Russia, have kept Russian
as an official language, the
language lost its status in other post-Soviet states after the end
of the Soviet Union.
While under the Soviet system, religious intellectual life was
eliminated, traditions continued to survive. After the collapse of
the Soviet Union Islamic movements have emerged alongside ethnic
and secular ones. Vitaly Naumkin gives the following assessment.
"Throughout the time of change, Islam has served as a symbol of
identity, a force for mobilization, and a pressure for democracy.
This is one of the few social disasters that the church has
survived, in which it was not the cause. But if successful
politically, it faces economic challenges beyond its grasp."
shows that journalists and "Think Tanks" (e.g. Rand) use the FSU
term quite heavily
- Social Assistance organizations that deal with people from
these countries, e.g. http://www.jdc.org/p_fsu.html and JBFCS use
the FSU term.
- The UN Population
- The UN GDP at current prices in US Dollars
- Transition: The First Ten Years – Analysis and Lessons for
Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, The World Bank,
Washington, DC, 2002, p. 4.
- GDP decline: transition and Great Depression compared,
Kalikova and Associates Law Firm, Kyrgyzstan. Retrieved 13 January
- Study Finds Poverty Deepening in Former Communist
Countries, New York Times, October 12, 2000
- IMF online database
- Ratification status of CIS documents as of 15 January
- Turkmenistan reduces CIS ties to "Associate
Member", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 29 August 2005.
- Georgian parliament votes to withdraw from CIS on BBC
News, 14 August 2008.
- Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Georgia on Georgia's withdrawal from CIS, 18 August 2008.
- CIS Charter, 22 January 1993 (unofficial
- Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia, BBC News, 23 November 2005.
photos of the Eastern Bloc September-December 1991, in the last
months of the USSR
- Discovering The Centuries-Old State Tradition,
professor Pål Kolstø, University of Oslo
- Former Soviet war zones |The hazards of a long,
hard freeze, The
Economist, August 19, 2004
- 4 enclaves' post-Soviet fate in limbo,
The Seattle Times, August
- Are Independence Referendums First Step Toward
Kremlin's 'Historical Revanchism'?, Radio Free Europe, September 15,