Coup d’état attempt by orthodox communists
who want to prevent Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev from signing a new treaty of union which would have created a voluntary federation in an increasingly democratised Soviet Union. 

In the face of mass popular demonstrations, the military defects and the coup fails. Boris Yeltsin, leader of the opposition, eventually takes power in the Kremlin as the first president of the Russian Federation.

As the first former Soviet republic, Ukraine declares its independence.


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