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The Protests That Brought The Soviet Union To Its Knees

At the end of the 1980s, protest movements across the Soviet Union sprung up, with people in the constituent republics calling for independence. Fed up with the broken, corrupt Soviet regime and fueled by burgeoning nationalism, protesters demanded an end to Soviet rule and a new, more equitable society.

Some of the protests were tolerated; others were brutally put down. After the failure of the August 1991 coup, where communist hard-liners attempted to seize power, the dominos continued to fall and the Soviet Union officially broke up later that year -- putting 15 independent countries on the map.