(→Хрушчов и Брежњев: превод)
At the end of World War I, the vast empires of the Ottomans, the Habsburgs, and the Romanovs collapsed, leaving Eastern Europe and Eurasia in turmoil. Only the Russian empire was reconfigured, under Bolshevik leadership. Stalin led it through industrialization and the Nazi onslaught to become a superpower rivaling the United States. Yet the Soviet Union remained essentially an empire, held together by a party rather than tsar. The command economy proved progressively less able to cope with postindustrial technologies and with the demands of the new industrial middle class and well-educated bureaucracy forged under its tutelage. Gorbachev's ''[[Perestroika]]'' spelled deconstruction of the economy; and ''glasnost'' allowed ethnic and nationalist disaffection to reach the surface. When Gorbachev tried to reform the party, he weakened the bonds that held the state and union together.
[[Слика: Горбачов и Јењцин. jpg|мини|десно|250п| Горбачов је оптужио Бориса Јељцина, старог ривала и првог пост-совјетског председника, да је разорио земњу из чисте жеље за напретком личних интереса.]]
In the late 1980s, Gorbachev underestimated the importance of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic emerging as a second power base to rival the Soviet Union. A Russian nationalist backlash against the Union came with many Russians arguing that Russia had long been subsidizing other republics, which tended to be poorer, with cheap oil, for instance. Demands were growing for Russia to have its own institutions, underdeveloped because of the equation of the Russian republic and the Soviet Union. As Russian nationalism became vocal in the late 1980s, a tension emerged between those who wanted to hold the Russian-dominated Union together and those who wanted to create a strong Russian state.