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The post-Soviet states, also commonly known as the Former Soviet Union (FSU)
or former Soviet republics, are the 15 independent nations that split off from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsmarker 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 alphabetical order:

1. Armeniamarker;2. Azerbaijanmarker;3. Belarusmarker;4. Estoniamarker;

5. Georgiamarker;6. Kazakhstanmarker;7. Kyrgyzstanmarker;8. Latviamarker;

9. Lithuaniamarker;10. Moldovamarker;11. Russiamarker;12. Tajikistanmarker;

13. Turkmenistanmarker;14. Ukrainemarker;15. Uzbekistanmarker]]

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 Russiamarker. In addition, there are a number of de facto independent, but internationally unrecognized states (see the section Separatist conflicts below).

Economy

Population trends 1970-2007: USSR and FSU
GDP (in US$) 1970-2007: USSR and FSU
The collapse of the Soviet Union 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 post-Soviet economies.

Most of the formerly Soviet states began the transition to a market economy in 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 (GDP) dropping 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 Depression 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 crisis it led to a return of more interventionist economic policies by the Putin's administration.

Change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in constant prices, 1991-2007
Country 1991 1995 2000 2005 2007 Turnaround year*
Baltic states
Estoniamarker 100.0 76.0 99.6 143.7 166.0 1995
Latviamarker 100.0 60.9 80.3 118.4 138.1 1994
Lithuaniamarker 100.0 61.5 76.0 109.6 123.7 1995
Central Asia
Kazakhstanmarker 100.0 68.9 77.8 127.1 148.7 1996
Kyrgyzstanmarker 100.0 56.6 74.3 89.1 98.7 1996
Tajikistanmarker 100.0 43.5 50.0 78.2 89.5 1997
Turkmenistanmarker 100.0 65.4 79.8 167.4 188.9 1998
Uzbekistanmarker 100.0 82.5 93.6 117.2 132.0 1996
Transcaucasus
Armeniamarker 100.0 45.9 59.0 104.5 119.1 1994
Azerbaijanmarker 100.0 41.5 58.1 101.2 157.0 1996
Georgiamarker 100.0 35.8 47.3 66.3 74.1 1995
Eastern European states
Belarusmarker 100.0 66.1 89.7 128.4 140.9 1996
Moldovamarker 100.0 47.3 41.7 58.4 65.0 2000
Ukrainemarker 100.0 52.4 47.5 68.7 73.3 2000
Russiamarker 100.0 65.4 70.7 95.3 106.8 1999
*The year when GDP decline switched to GDP growth.

Regional organizations



A number of regional organizations and cooperating blocs have sprung up since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 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 regional blocs:



  • The three Baltic states have not sought membership to any of these post-Soviet organizations, seeking and achieving membership in the European Union and NATOmarker 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 Choice.


  • The Central Asian states of Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Tajikistanmarker, and Uzbekistanmarker (as well as Belarusmarker) are members of the CIS and participate in several regional organizations that have Russiamarker 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.


  • Armeniamarker besides its membership in CIS participates in CSTO only.


  • Ukrainemarker, Moldovamarker, and Azerbaijanmarker participate in the CIS but other than that they mostly cooperate within regional organizations that are not dominated by Russiamarker. 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.


  • Turkmenistanmarker 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 organizations.


  • Georgiamarker 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 (CIS) consists of 12 former Soviet Republics 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



The Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC) was established by Russiamarker, Belarusmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker and Tajikistanmarker, having grown out of the CIS Customs Union. Ukrainemarker and Moldovamarker have observer status in the community, however Ukraine has declared its desire not to become a full member state. Because having common borders with the rest of the community is a prerequisite for full membership, Moldova is thus barred from seeking it. Uzbekistanmarker applied for membership in October 2005 [118875], when the process of merging CACO and the Eurasian Economic Community began; it joined on 25 January 2006.

Collective Security Treaty Organization



Seven CIS member states, namely Russiamarker, Belarusmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Tajikistanmarker, Uzbekistanmarker and Armeniamarker, have enhanced their military cooperation, establishing the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), this being an expansion of the previous Collective Security Treaty (CST). Uzbekistanmarker 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.

GUAM

Four member states, namely Georgiamarker, Ukrainemarker, Azerbaijanmarker and Moldovamarker established the GUAM group that was largely seen as intending to counter Russian dominance in the region. 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 CIS).

Union of Russia and Belarus



The Union of Russia and Belarus was originally formed on April 2, 1996 under the name Commonwealth of Russia and Belarus, 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 ruble as a common currency.

Other regional organizations

Economic Cooperation Organization

[[Image:ECO CDC Map.png|200px|right|thumb|

]]

The Economic Cooperation Organization was originally formed in 1985 by Turkeymarker, Iranmarker and Pakistanmarker but in 1992 the organization was expanded to include Afghanistanmarker and the six primarily Muslim former Soviet republics: Azerbaijanmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Tajikistanmarker, Turkmenistanmarker and Uzbekistanmarker.

Community of Democratic Choice

The 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 (Sloveniamarker, Romaniamarker and the Republic of Macedoniamarker). The Black Sea Forum (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

[[Image:SCO.png|200px|right|thumb|Shanghai Cooperation Organisation:

]]The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), is 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 Five grouping, has existed since 1996. Its aims revolve around security-related issues.

Post-Soviet states are also members in the following organisations in Balkans and Black Sea regions (but those organisations are not centred with Russia as the main mover)

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 Moldovamarker 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 Transnistriamarker) 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

  • Stability 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 Union (WEU).
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organizationmarker (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

  • Southeast 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).
  • Southeast 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 China).
  • Black 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).


Politics

Regarding political freedom in the former Soviet republics, Freedom House's 2006 report listed the following:



Similarly, the Worldwide Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, recorded the following as regards press freedom:

It has been remarked that several post-Soviet states have not changed leadership since their independence, such as Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan and Islom Karimov 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 Lukashenko of Belarus and Emomalii Rahmon of Tajikistan). Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstanmarker had likewise served as President since its independence until he was forced to resign as a result of the Kyrgyz revolution of 2005. Saparmurat Niyazov in Turkmenistan ruled from independence until his death in 2006, creating a personality cult around himself.

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 Aliyev, and theories about the children of other leaders in Central Asia also being groomed for succession. [118876] The participation of Akayev's son and daughter in the 2005 Kyrgyz parliamentary elections 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.

Separatist conflicts

Most military conflicts in the post-Soviet space have had to do with the separatist desires of territories with different ethnic or religious demographics than the majority of the state they're officially recognized as part of.

Such territories and resulting military conflicts have so far been:



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 Aslan Abashidze 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 not recognized by any state. (However, Georgiamarker 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 territories. Nagorno-Karabakh has 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. [118877] [118878][118879]

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

Civil wars unrelated to separatist movements have occurred twice in the region:

Colour revolutions

Since 2003, a number of (largely) peaceful "colour revolutions" have happened 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.

Religion

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."

See also



References

  1. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Former+Soviet+Union%22 shows that journalists and "Think Tanks" (e.g. Rand) use the FSU term quite heavily
  2. http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/1805/managing_conflict_in_the_former_soviet_union.html
  3. 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.
  4. The UN Population
  5. The UN GDP at current prices in US Dollars
  6. Transition: The First Ten Years – Analysis and Lessons for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, The World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002, p. 4.
  7. GDP decline: transition and Great Depression compared, Kalikova and Associates Law Firm, Kyrgyzstan. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  8. Study Finds Poverty Deepening in Former Communist Countries, New York Times, October 12, 2000
  9. IMF online database
  10. Ratification status of CIS documents as of 15 January 2008 (Russian).
  11. Turkmenistan reduces CIS ties to "Associate Member", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 29 August 2005.
  12. Georgian parliament votes to withdraw from CIS on BBC News, 14 August 2008.
  13. Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on Georgia's withdrawal from CIS, 18 August 2008.
  14. CIS Charter, 22 January 1993 (unofficial English translation).
  15. Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia, BBC News, 23 November 2005.


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