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The Dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred from August to December 1991, when the various Soviet republics seceded from the union, breaking up the once-great communist state. The dissolution ended on 26 December 1991 when the Supreme Soviet of Russia, the governing body of the Soviet Union, acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics, and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev resigned, declared his office extinct, and handed over all of his powers to Russian SFSR president Boris Yeltsin. The process had begun as a result of the glasnost and perestroika policies implemented under Yeltsin, and all fifteen republics were allowed to hold their own elections after February 1990, leading to Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, Latvia, Armenia, and the Republic of Georgia electing new governments and becoming independent states. In July 1990, the conservative and democrat-backed Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin resigned from power due to disagreements with Yeltsin, leading to a rivalry developing between the USSR and Russia. In early 1991, growing separatism led to violence across the USSR, especially in the Baltics. In August 1991, anti-decentralization communist hardliners launched the August Coup, holding Gorbachev under house arrest. However, civil resistance encouraged by Yeltsin led to the coup failing, and Yeltsin had the coup plotters arrested and had Gorbachev freed. The coup attempt convinced Gorbachev that the USSR was doomed, and he resigned as Soviet leader on 25 December 1991 and turned over all power to Yeltsin. The USSR was over, being fragmented into fifteen new republics. The dissolution ended the Cold War, and all of the former republics would struggle to find a new alignment; in Russia, there was a constitutional crisis, while post-communist wars broke out between Moldova and Transnistria and between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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