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Collapse of the USSR Countdown to collapse How life has changed Gorbachev webcast Photo file


Independence declared: 2 February 1990

Population: 1.4 million

Capital: Tallinn

President: Lennart Meri (since 5 October 1992)

 Country profile


The collapse of the Soviet Union was a great blessing for me because straightaway there were many interesting opportunities for work and study. It gave us the motivation to carry on living. But itís true that in the Soviet Union there was not the need to sell oneself - that has appeared with todayís market economy.

Anneli Berends, town official, 41, Tallinn

My life wasnít bad in Soviet days, but when the union collapsed I really felt that I was a free man. Nobody can decide for me anymore what I want or what I must do. The collapse of the USSR opened up the world for me, and although Iím not leaving here, every minute I remember and am aware that the world is open.

Peter Bares, 42, Tallinn

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Pro-independence demonstrations in 1989 /AP
Estonia played a leading role in the USSRís collapse /AP

Estonia played a pivotal role in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In April 1988 Estonia formed a Popular Front - a political party in all but name, in a country where only the Communist Party was allowed to exist, and became the first of the Soviet republics to proclaim sovereignty. It unilaterally declared independence during the coup in August 1991.

Having been forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, the Baltic states never really felt part of the Soviet Union. They have now gone further than all the other former republics in their bid to become integrated into Western institutions.

Estonia is in the first wave of applicants to join the EU, and is the second Baltic country to have joined the WTO.

But the transition has been marred by tensions. Many of its Russian inhabitants have no citizenship as a result of strict language tests.

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