This account has emphasised those factors which may have contributed to the fall of Soviet communism in the short term: an economy spiralling out of control from 1989, the inconsistencies and prevarications of Gorbachev’s reform programme, the tactics of nationalist politicians and Boris Yeltsin, the disruption caused by striking workers and mass demonstrations and the fateful actions of the coup organisers. Even chance events like the Chernobyl accident or the Armenian earthquake, both of which might have occurred at any time, and the somewhat deranged behaviour of a young German pilot, all had roles to play in the unfolding of events. These occurrences need to be considered alongside the broader factors such as long-term economic stagnation, social change, loss of ideological legitimacy and national grievances.
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