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July 1990 - Yeltsin leaves communists

Boris Yeltsin publicly resigns from the Communist Party. Events are moving towards their climax. As the summer wears on, Ukraine declares sovereignty, followed by Armenia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

In the outside world, Gorbachev remains a hero. In October he wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Germany has just been reunited.

But at home Gorbachev has been wrestling with nightmare economic decisions as more of the gloss starts to come off perestroika. He has to choose between a radical reform package and a much more cautious plan from his own prime minister, Nikolai Ryzhkov. In the end he tries to merge the two.

Yeltsin borrows a phrase and accuses him of "trying to mate a hedgehog with a snake". Gorbachev has satisfied no-one and has left himself more isolated politically.

And as independence fervour mounts, he is still struggling to sell his vision of a new Union of Sovereign Soviet Republics.

Gorbachev warns of the "dark forces of nationalism". In December he declares that "firm" rule is needed. Shevardnadze resigns as foreign minister, warning of dictatorship ahead. But Gorbachev gets the special executive powers he wants.

Deserted by his most radical ministers, Gorbachev shifts significantly towards hardline policies.

Soviet troops in Tajiskistan
Unrest: Tajiskistan was among republics to suffer violence
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