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The last day of the USSR

Moscow, Dec 25 (EFE).- Thirty years ago today, Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation, marking the end of the Soviet Union.

“For six years, Gorbachev led a revolution that changed the Soviet Union and the world forever, but by then Perestroika was over,” Gorbachev’s press secretary Andrei Grachev told Efe.

Although Gorbachev survived a coup attempt in 1991, he could not stop the independence of several USSR republics over the subsequent few months, which made his departure a matter of time.

Once all the Soviet republics, with the exception of Georgia and the three Baltics, put the final nail in the coffin of the USSR at the Almaty summit, Gorbachev began the process of handing over of power.

“The dissolution of the USSR was a historical reality. Furthermore, his position as president had been eliminated. He could not remain in the Kremlin,” Grachev said.

A couple of days later, he met his arch-nemesis, the Russian president Boris Yeltsin, to discuss the transfer of the nuclear briefcase.

“Gorbachev wanted to resign on the 24th, but I convinced him not to, on the grounds that Christmas Eve was a special day for Catholics,” he said.

“The festive atmosphere was not to be spoiled. He accepted. Now, I can say that I extended the life of the Soviet Union by 24 hours,” he added.

Eventually, Yeltsin took over on 25 December, removing the Soviet flag on the same day.

“I heard something on the radio about the transfer of the nuclear briefcase. I took the camera and ran to Red Square,” photojournalist Alexei Boitsov told Efe.

His ten years of experience as a correspondent for the Pravda newspaper at the Kremlin enabled him to be the only to immortalize the moment.

“Just after preparing the camera they began to lower the USSR’s flag and to raise the Russian tricolor,” said Boitsov, who worked in 1991 for the APN news agency.

As two flags were waving over the domes of the Kremlin, for a few minutes the Soviet and the Russian coincided.

The photo, however, was never published. “Nobody was interested. For the whole world the USSR had already ceased to exist,” he added. EFE


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