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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok

Chronology of Events1

Texte intégral


  • 1 Compiled and edited by National Security Archive staff: Svetlana Savranskaya, Gregory F. Domber, C (...)

1March 11: Mikhail Gorbachev is named general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) after the death of Konstantin Chernenko.

2March 13–14: Gorbachev meets with foreign leaders, including leaders of socialist states. In his memoirs, Gorbachev writes that he announced to the fraternal leaders that the old policy of Soviet patronage was over and that the allies were responsible for the situation in their respective countries.

3April 23: The Plenum of the CPSU Central Committee, which officially launches the policy of perestroika, convenes.

4May 7: The CC CPSU promulgates a resolution “On Overcoming Drinking and Alcoholism,” one of Gorbachev’s early social reforms.

5May 22: The 30th Anniversary summit of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) in Warsaw renews the treaty for 20 years.

6June 29: Eduard Shevardnadze is appointed Soviet foreign minister.

7August 28: Time magazine publishes an interview with Gorbachev—his first of this length—which includes an extensive discussion on international issues.

8September 19: Gorbachev meets with President of Finland Mauno Koivisto in Moscow.

9October 21–23: At a session of the WTO Political Consultative Committee (PCC) in Sofia, Gorbachev discusses the prospects for integration within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the state of affairs in the international communist movement.

10November 19–21: Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan hold their first summit, in Geneva. The two agree in principle to a 50-percent reduction in strategic offensive weapons. The most important result of the summit, however, is that it allows both leaders to establish a personal connection and find a common interest in the abolition of nuclear weapons.

11December 24: Boris Yeltsin is elected first secretary of the Moscow Party Committee at Gorbachev’s recommendation.


12January 15: Gorbachev announces the Program for Comprehensive Elimination of Nuclear Weapons by the Year 2000.

13February 25–March 6: The XXVII Congress of the CPSU takes place.

14March 12: Gorbachev meets with Fidel Castro.

15April 26: The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurs, demonstrating to Kremlin leaders and their allies the potential effects of a nuclear war.

16May 20: Gorbachev meets with Prime Minister of Spain Felipe Gonzalez.

17June 9–10: At a PCC session in Budapest, Warsaw Pact leaders discuss problems in the alliance, such as the lack of genuine coordination and cooperation among allies, as well as the urgent need for integration within CMEA.

18June 13: The Soviet Politburo discusses the issues raised at the PCC meeting in Budapest. This is the group’s first full-fledged discussion of the socialist countries since Gorbachev’s accession to power. Gorbachev focuses on the economic crisis and the need for Western credits.

19July 1: Gorbachev attends the X Congress of the PUWP in Warsaw and meets with PUWP leader Wojciech Jaruzelski.

20August 19: The Central Committee passes a resolution allowing 20 ministries and the 70 largest enterprises of the USSR to establish direct contact with foreign partners and to create joint ventures. The decision is a step in the direction of deeper integration of the socialist bloc.

21September 18: Gorbachev travels to Stavropol krai where he meets with party activists and promotes economic reforms and accountability in the Soviet Union.

22October 11–13: The U.S.–Soviet Summit in Reykjavik takes place. Reagan and Gorbachev come close to an agreement to abolish all strategic offensive weapons but fall short because of Reagan’s insistence on keeping SDI (the Strategic Defense Initiative) and Gorbachev’s inability to compromise on SDI research and testing.

23November 10–11: At a meeting of heads of CMEA countries in Moscow, a frank discussion takes place about the general economic crisis, failed efforts at integration within CMEA, and the need for serious economic reform.

24December 23: Academician Andrei Sakharov is allowed to return to Moscow from his internal exile in Gorky.


25January 29: The Soviet Politburo discusses the results of a recent conference in Warsaw of Central Committee secretaries from socialist countries on international and ideological issues. Members point to the growing pro-Western orientation of Eastern Europe.

26February 10: The USSR announces that it has pardoned 140 individuals convicted of subversive activities. This marks the largest release of political prisoners since 1956.

27February 19: Reagan lifts economic sanctions on Poland.

28February 27: The Yugoslav government places emergency controls on wage levels; nationwide strikes break out.

29March 15: Up to 2,000 demonstrators in Budapest mark the anniversary of the 1848 uprising against Austrian rule, and call for more democracy in Hungary.

30March 28: Poland announces price increases of between 10 and 100 percent on basic foodstuffs, cigarettes, fuel, alcohol, transportation, and postal services.

31March 28–April 1: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visits Moscow. Her highly critical views of Soviet human rights violations and continued military involvement in Afghanistan are given full coverage in the Soviet media.

32April 9: Gorbachev visits Prague to meet with CPCz leader Gustáv Husák.

33Apri1 13–16: U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz arrives in Moscow to negotiate on arms control. He meets with Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and Chair-man of the Council of Ministers Nikolay Ryzhkov.

34April 23: GDR leader Erich Honecker publicly rejects the idea that East Germany should emulate Soviet political and economic reforms.

35May 6: The U.S. and USSR agree to establish Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in their respective capitals.

36May 9: The CPSU Politburo, with Marshal Sergey Akhromeyev in attendance, discusses a new WTO doctrine.

37May 25: Gorbachev visits Romania and makes a speech explaining the reform process in the Soviet Union.

38May 28: Eluding vaunted Soviet air defenses, West German peace activist Matthias Rust lands a small private plane near Red Square.

39May 30: USSR Defense Minister Sergey Sokolov is fired and replaced by Dmitri Yazov. The chief of Soviet air defenses and other generals are also replaced, reportedly as a result of the Rust incident.

40June 2: Reagan informs Congress that Romania and Hungary should be offered most-favored-nation (MFN) status.

41June 5–6: East German youth and police clash when crowds approach the Berlin Wall to hear an outdoor rock concert on the western side.

42June 8: Pope John Paul II visits Poland.

43June 12: During a speech in West Berlin, Reagan intones, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

44June 25: Hungary announces that President Pál Losonczi and Prime Minister György Lázár will retire. Miklós Németh becomes president and Károly Grósz prime minister.

45June 25–26: Gorbachev strengthens his position by promoting three supporters to full membership in the Politburo—Party Secretaries Aleksandr Yakovlev, Viktor Nikonov, and Nikolay Slyunkov—and by reducing the role of his chief rival, Yegor Ligachev.

46June 26: The Central Committee of the Yugoslav League of Communists meets in Belgrade to discuss problems in Kosovo.

47July 20: Hungary raises prices 10–29 percent on certain consumer goods and services to help combat its hard currency trade deficit.

48July 28: In a speech to the Central Committee Plenum in Sofia, Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov calls for a reduction of the Party’s role in the government and the economy.

49September 1: Honecker begins a much-awaited visit to West Germany.

50September 17: Shevardnadze and Shultz agree in principle to the elimination of INF missiles.

51September 17–19: The Hungarian Parliament approves cutbacks in subsidies to state-run enterprises and the introduction of personal income taxes and a value-added tax.

52October 5: A state of energy emergency is declared in Romania.

53October 23: Shultz meets with Gorbachev in Moscow to discuss INF issues.

54November 2: At a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Gorbachev denounces Stalin’s legacy, defends perestroika, and announces his intention to seek a strategic arms agreement with the U.S.

55November 11: At Gorbachev’s request, the Moscow Party Committee removes Yeltsin as first secretary.

56November 15: A general wage freeze and price increases are implemented in Yugoslavia, setting off a buying panic that devalues the Yugoslav currency. On the same day, several thousand industrial workers riot in Brasov, Romania, over mandated pay cuts.

57December 7–10: At the Washington summit, Reagan and Gorbachev sign the INF treaty, mandating the removal from Europe of 2,611 intermediate-range missiles. For the first time ever, the actual number of nuclear weapons delivery systems has been reduced.

58December 17: Miloš Jakeš succeeds Husák as general secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.


59January 11: Gorbachev agrees with Jakeš that there are no grounds to reassess the events of 1968, including the Soviet-led intervention. He adds that the attempt by supporters of the “Prague Spring” to present themselves as “legal heirs of Soviet perestroika is nothing more than a blow at our perestroika. We are carrying out perestroika within the framework of socialism and to reinforce socialism.”

60February 1: Prices on approximately half of Polish goods and services are raised 27 percent, including a 100-percent rise for gas and electricity, and a 200-percent jump for coal. Thousands in Warsaw and Gdańsk protest.

61February 8: Gorbachev announces on national television a plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan beginning May 15, 1988, and ending February 15, 1989.

62February 22: Shultz meets with Gorbachev in Moscow to discuss the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Gorbachev rejects Shultz’s presentation of Pakistan’s desire for an interim government in Kabul.

63February 29: Bulgaria holds regional and municipal elections allowing, for the first time, more than one candidate per position.

64March 10: At a Politburo meeting Gorbachev announces that the USSR will pro-vide 41 billion rubles of annual assistance to socialist countries and clients around the world, including 27 billion rubles to Cuba.

65March 13: Sovetskaia Rossiya publishes the “Nina Andreyeva letter” attacking perestroika in language borrowed from the speeches of Andrei Zhdanov.

66March 24–25: The Politburo holds an intense discussion on Nina Andreyeva’s letter and glasnost. There is a split between radical and more cautious reformers.

67April 14: The Geneva Accords on Afghanistan are signed, calling on the USSR to remove half of its forces by August 15, 1988, and the remainder by February 15, 1989.

68April 25–27: Thousands of Polish workers strike demanding higher wages. Strikes spread across the country, including the shipyards in Gdańsk, and continue until mid-May.

69May 22: János Kádár is removed as Hungarian Communist Party secretary and is replaced by Károly Grósz.

70May 29–June 1: The Gorbachev–Reagan summit takes place in Moscow.

71June 28: In his address to the XIX All-Union Conference of the Communist Party, Gorbachev calls for restructuring the government, putting in place a strong president picked by a more representative legislature that would replace the Supreme Soviet. He also advocates term limits for high officials, more authority for the local soviets, multi-candidate elections, and a ban on communist party interference on economic issues.

72July 4: The XIX CPSU Conference passes resolutions on political reform. In discussions of the draft, Gorbachev insists on including his own language. The resolution represents a political victory for the reformers.

73July 11: Gorbachev visits Poland. He makes a speech before the Sejm which alludes to the XIX CPSU Conference and the deepening Soviet reform. At a dinner with the Polish party leadership he gives an extensive description of his Common European Home idea.

74July 25: In a speech to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shevardnadze rejects the class struggle as the basis for Soviet foreign policy.

75July 30: The Yugoslav government orders an end to recent demonstrations by minority ethnic Serbs in Kosovo who claim mistreatment by the region’s ethnic majority.

76August 14: Police in Gdańsk clash with protesters marking the eighth anniversary of the founding of Solidarity. Strikes begin anew, particularly in the mining industry.

77August 31: Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa meets with Interior Minister general Czesław Kiszczak and notes that progress is being made towards initiating negotiations between the government and the opposition. After the meeting, he urges an end to nationwide strikes.

78September 26: Poland’s Central Committee appoints Mieczysław Rakowski prime minister. He succeeds Zbigniew Messner who resigned after criticism over his conduct of the economy.

79September 30: The CC CPSU Plenum implements radical structural and personnel changes in the Central Committee. Gorbachev replaces Gromyko as president (chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet); Gromyko is then retired by the CC. Ligachev receives a new assignment as party secretary for agriculture. Vadim Medvedev (secretary for science and technology) takes over responsibility for ideology and propaganda. Anatoly Dobrynin is retired as CC secretary in charge of foreign affairs and replaced by Aleksandr Yakovlev. Viktor Chebrikov is replaced by Vladimir Kryuchkov as head of the KGB and given the post of secretary for legal affairs. Mikhail Solomentsev loses his position as chairman of the Party Control Committee and his membership in the Politburo. Anatoly Lukyanov is confirmed as Soviet vice president.

80October 6: Following suggestions from his adviser, Georgy Shakhnazarov, Gorbachev proposes that the Politburo begin to devise a “thoughtful” strategic approach toward Eastern Europe in case of a general crisis there. “We should not bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich,” the leader declares.

81October 10: Czechoslovak Premier Lubomír Štrougal resigns. Ladislav Adamec takes over the post the following day.

82October 14: Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Robert gates delivers a pessimistic address about Gorbachev’s ability to reform the USSR. Shultz later assails him for giving a speech on policy and tries to have him fired.

83October 31: The Polish government announces it will begin shutting down the Gdańsk shipyard. Wałęsa calls the move a “political provocation.” The government claims it is for economic reasons.

84November 6: Wałęsa threatens to call nationwide strikes unless the closure of the Gdańsk shipyard is called off; however, the following day the strike is indefinitely postponed after a meeting between Solidarity officials and shipyard management.

85November 8: George H.W. Bush is elected president of the United States.

86November 23: The Central Committee of the Socialist Workers’ Party in Hungary names Németh to replace general Secretary Grósz as premier.

87December 7: In a landmark speech at the United Nations, Gorbachev announces plans to shrink the Soviet military by 500,000 troops and endorses the “common interests of mankind” as the basis of Soviet foreign policy. He enunciates a decision to allow Eastern Europe to evolve “without Soviet interference.” Afterwards, Gorbachev lunches with Reagan and Presidentelect Bush at governors Island in New York harbor.

88December 7: A devastating earthquake in Armenia kills 25,000 and leaves half a million homeless. Gorbachev cuts short his New York visit and returns to the Soviet Union. At Christmas, Bush sends his son, Jeb, and grandson, George, to Armenia to inspect the damage and determine how the U.S. might help. For the first time in years, the Soviet Union accepts foreign assistance.

89December 18: Henry Kissinger meets the U.S. president-elect and his advisers, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. He suggests negotiating a deal with the Soviets on Eastern Europe and offers himself as an emissary.


90January 11: The Hungarian Parliament votes to allow freedom of association and assembly, an important step in permitting the formation of independent political organizations and parties.

91January 15: A demonstration in Prague commemorates the twentieth anniversary of student protest-suicides following the 1968 invasion. Police break up the protest and make arrests. Václav Havel is arrested the next day and charged with inciting the demonstrations with comments that were quoted on foreign radio broadcasts.

92January 16: Kissinger meets with Yakovlev in Moscow. He compares the situation in Eastern Europe to that preceding World War I in which the great Powers set off a chain reaction which led to war. To avert catastrophe, he proposes high-level negotiations to reach a set of both formal and informal understandings. Yakovlev agrees that negotiations should take place.

93January 18: Kissinger meets Gorbachev in the Kremlin and presents his proposal for an understanding on Eastern Europe. He also delivers a letter to Gorbachev from Bush. Gorbachev is ambivalent about the initiative and wants to make sure that it is actually supported by Bush.

94January 18: The CC PUWP grants the banned Solidarity trade union a two-year probationary period with the possibility of legalization to follow.

95January 21: Gorbachev reports to the Politburo on his meeting with the Trilateral Commission.

96January 22: Speaking on ABC Television’s news program “This Week with David Brinkley,” Scowcroft says that Gorbachev seems “interested in making trouble with the Western Alliance” and may be trying to throw the West off its guard to give the USSR time to rebuild its economic and military strength and prepare for a “world Communist offensive.” He adds, “I think the Cold War is not over.”

97January 23: Honecker announces a 10-percent reduction in GDR military spending by 1990.

98January 23: Bush calls Gorbachev to promise no “foot-dragging” in the improvement of relations. Gorbachev is encouraged by the call and tells several aides that he believes he can deal with Bush “as one human to another.”

99January 24: At a Politburo meeting, Gorbachev instructs Yakovlev, as head of the Politburo’s International Commission, to conduct “a situational analysis” of Eastern Europe with scholars from think-tanks.

100January 26: A letter to Prime Minister Adamec signed by 692 Czechoslovak cultural figures demands Havel’s release.

101January 27: Representatives of the Polish government, Solidarity, and the Catholic Church meet to negotiate political and economic reforms.

102January 28: Imre Pozsgay, a member of the Hungarian Politburo, calls for a reappraisal of the 1956 revolt.

103January 28: Kissinger meets Bush, Baker, and Scowcroft at the White House to report on his talk with Gorbachev in Moscow and discuss Kissinger’s plan for Eastern Europe.

104February 6: “Roundtable” talks between the Polish government and representatives of Solidarity begin.

105February 10–11: The Hungarian Party’s Central Committee formally endorses the idea of a multiparty system.

106February 15: The USSR completes its military withdrawal from Afghanistan on schedule.

107February 20–21: The Hungarian CC approves a new constitution omitting mention of the leading role of the Communist Party.

108February 21: Havel is sentenced to nine months in prison for his alleged role in inciting riots earlier in the year.

109March 1: Six former prominent members of the Romanian Communist Party send an open letter to Nicolae Ceauşescu accusing him of discrediting socialism, ruining the economy, and failing to observe the 1975 Helsinki Accords.

110March 5: Thousands demonstrate in Moscow in support of Yeltsin’s candidacy for the Parliament.

111March 7: Baker receives Shevardnadze at the U.S. ambassadorial residence in Vienna for their first private meeting. He tells the Soviet minister, “We really hope that you succeed.”

112March 16: The CC CPSU adopts an agricultural reform program that would break up the central agricultural ministry and allow individual farmers to lease farmland.

113March 17: The Hungarian Central Committee approves a new program of action which supports the principle of free elections.

114March 26: Elections to the new Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies take place. Many Party and military officials lose to independent candidates. Yeltsin wins the Moscow at-large seat with 89 percent of the vote. Andrei Sakharov also overwhelmingly wins a seat.

115April 5: The Polish government and Solidarity reach an agreement on political and economic reforms, including the holding of elections in the summer and a restructuring of Parliament. The agreement also calls for strengthening the presidency.

116April 6: In a private meeting in London with Thatcher, Gorbachev denounces Bush’s “pause” as “intolerable.” Thatcher urges patience but immediately sends a message to Bush describing how upset Gorbachev was and commenting that the ongoing U.S. policy review is indeed taking a long time.

117April 7: The Polish government and Solidarity sign the Roundtable accords.

118April 9: Soviet troops kill 20 Georgian nationalist demonstrators in the capital city of Tbilisi.

119April 12: Ceauşescu announces that his country’s foreign debt has been paid ahead of schedule.

120April 15: Hu Yaobang, a respected Chinese Communist Party leader, dies. Over the next several days, tens of thousands of students gather in Tiananmen Square to mourn his death. The gatherings turn into demonstrations for democracy and freedom of the press.

121April 17: Poland’s Solidarity trade union is legalized.

122April 20: The CPSU Politburo in a heated discussion denounces the use of military force in Tbilisi. Gorbachev claims he did not know about the decision to employ troops and blames it on the Georgian party leadership.

123April 21: During a Politburo meeting on Afghanistan, Gorbachev opposes a proposal by Shevardnadze and KGB chief Kryuchkov to come to the rescue of the Najibullah regime by means of an aerial strike on rebel bases.

124April 25: One thousand Soviet tanks leave Hungary. This marks the first stage of the planned Soviet withdrawal of 50,000 troops and 10,000 tanks from Eastern Europe by 1991.

125May 2: Hungary begins dismantling the barbed wire on its borders with Austria.

126May 5: The USSR announces it has withdrawn 1,000 tanks from East Germany.

127May 8–9: The Hungarian CC votes to remove Kádár from the post of party first secretary and from the Central Committee.

128May 11: The CPSU Politburo discusses a proposal by the Politburo commission on the situation in the Baltic republics. Gorbachev emphasizes that “force does not help in this business. We have accepted that even in foreign policy force accomplishes nothing. But internally especially—we cannot and will not resort to force.”

129May 13: Several thousand students start fasting at Tiananmen Square to pressure the Chinese government to meet their demands.

130May 15–18: Gorbachev visits China for the first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years and announces the “normalization” of relations.

131May 17: Václav Havel is released from prison.

132May 17: The Polish Sejm votes to give the Roman Catholic Church legal status.

133May 18: The Lithuanian Supreme Soviet declares sovereignty.

134May 20–21: Bulgarian authorities put down protests against the government’s policy of forced assimilation in the south. Over 100 ethnic Turks are killed.

135May 25–June 9: The new Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies meets for the first time and elects Gorbachev president. The congress is televised and has a powerful impact on Soviet viewers. One of the first cases taken on by the Congress is the use of force against demonstrators in Tbilisi and the question of Gorbachev’s involvement in giving the order.

136June 3–15: Violent ethnic riots occur in Uzbekistan.

137June 4: Solidarity wins decisively in free parliamentary elections. The union wins 92 of 100 seats in the Senate and 160 of 161 available seats in the 460-seat Sejm.

138June 4: Chinese government troops with armored vehicles crush protests in Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds.

139June 13: The Hungarian “Roundtable” talks begin.

140June 16: Imre Nagy, the reform prime minister during the Hungarian revolution who was executed in 1958 and interred in an anonymous grave, is ceremonially re-buried.

141June 18: A runoff election is held in Poland. Solidarity captures seven of eight unfilled seats in the Senate and the single open seat in the Sejm.

142June 19: START negotiations resume in Geneva.

143June 22: The Hungarian CC reorganizes the leadership of the party, creating a fourmember Presidium consisting of Grósz, Pozsgay, Németh and Rezső Nyers.

144June 30: Jaruzelski announces that he will not run for the presidency of Poland.

145July: Shevardnadze visits Budapest. He tells Hungarian leaders: “Do what you think is best to preserve the position of the party.”

146July 1: Speaking on Soviet television, Gorbachev warns of ethnic conflict breaking out in the USSR.

147July 4: The Polish Parliament convenes. Premier Rakowski and his cabinet offer their resignations but agree to stay on as caretakers.

148July 6: Former Hungarian leader Kádár dies. On the same date, the Hungarian Supreme Court rehabilitates Imre Nagy and his associates.

149July 6: Addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Gorbachev says the USSR will not block reform in Eastern Europe and will promote comprehensive European political and economic integration in the framework of a “common European home.”

150July 7: In Bucharest, Gorbachev speaks to Warsaw Pact leaders and seems to accept the changes in Poland and Hungary. Ceauşescu openly complains about “disunity” within the alliance.

151July 9–13: Bush is hailed by crowds in Poland and Hungary. However, his cautious speeches, designed not to offend the Soviets, are later the subject of criticism.

152July 10: In the USSR a wave of mining strikes begins and continues for several weeks.

153July 10: Bush meets with Jaruzelski in the morning and tells him he thinks the Polish leader might be able to “assist in a process, an evolution,” in Poland. Jaruzelski subsequently reverses his earlier decision not to run for the presidency. Speaking before Parliament, Bush pledges $100 million in aid to underwrite private enterprise development. Bush also meets with Wałęsa in Gdańsk.

154July 12: Meeting privately with grósz, Nyers, and Németh in Budapest, Bush tells the party leaders that he does not want to force them to “choose between East and West.” He also meets with opposition leaders.

155July 14: Wałęsa offers his support to Jaruzelski in his bid to be Poland’s president.

156July 14: The CPSU Politburo debates a draft proposal to transform the USSR into a looser federation with a larger degree of republican autonomy.

157July 19: Jaruzelski is elected president of Poland.

158July 22: The Lithuanian Parliament declares the 1940 Soviet annexation of the Baltics illegal.

159July 25: Jaruzelski invites Solidarity to join a coalition government.

160July 30: The “Inter-regional group of Deputies” is formed in the USSR Supreme Soviet by Yeltsin, Sakharov, and others.

161August 16: Solidarity and the United Peasants’ and Democratic Parties agree to form a coalition government. Jaruzelski demands only that the PUWP be guaranteed the defense and interior portfolios.

162August 18: Yakovlev holds a press conference to denounce “unequivocally” the 1939 Nazi–Soviet Pact which led to the annexation of the Baltics. However, he states that the Soviet government still considers the Baltics a part of the USSR and will resist any attempts to dislodge them from the Union.

163August 21: In Prague, 3,000 demonstrators mark the 20th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion. Security police break up the demonstrations.

164August 24: Tadeusz Mazowiecki becomes the first noncommunist Polish prime minister since the early postwar period.

165September 8–10: Rukh—the nationalist movement in the Ukraine—holds its constituent congress in Kiev and displays the banned blue-and-yellow flag of independent Ukraine.

166September 10: Hungarian authorities announce they will no longer prevent East German citizens from crossing Hungary’s border into Austria, a move that eventually makes it possible for 180,000 East Germans to reach the West.

167September 11: Mazowiecki nominates a cabinet in which representatives of the PUWP are a minority.

168September 19: The Hungarian government and opposition representatives reach an accord to create a multiparty system in 1990. The agreement provides for a unicameral legislature to be filled by free elections, a strong presidency with the authority to choose the premier, and the legalization and granting of rights to political parties.

169September 22–23: Shevardnadze and Baker meet at the latter’s ranch in Wyoming. They discuss START, chemical weapons, regional conflicts, and independence movements in the USSR.

170September 23: The Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet makes Azeri the official language of the Republic, reasserts sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, and reaffirms Azerbaijan’s right of secession from the USSR.

171October 6: Gorbachev meets with Honecker in East Berlin and advises that he begin a reform program. He later tells aides that Honecker “can’t stay in control” and must go.

172October 7: The Hungarian Communist Party formally dissolves, renaming itself the Hungarian Socialist party and adopting democratic socialist politics instead of Marxism.

173October 9: Over 70,000 East Germans demonstrate against their government in Leipzig. Local communist leaders refuse to attack the marchers.

174October 12: The Polish government announces new anti-inflationary measures and promises the “full introduction of market mechanisms and institutions” in 1990–1991.

175October 17: Honecker is forced to resign both as general secretary and head of state. He is replaced by Egon Krenz, the former security chief and youngest member of the Politburo.

176October 23: Hungary adopts a new constitution permitting a multiparty system, scheduling elections for 1990 and changing the country’s name to the Re-public of Hungary. Acting president Mátyás Szűrös declares the 1956 Soviet invasion to have been illegal.

177October 23: Between 200–300,000 East Germans demonstrate against the government in Leipzig.

178October 26: Shevardnadze calls for the dissolution of NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

179October 28: About 10,000 protesters gather in Wenceslas Square in Prague to mark the 71st anniversary of the formation of Czechoslovakia. Demonstrators ignore demands to leave the square. Riot police storm the crowd and arrest 355 demonstrators.

180October 31: Facing growing economic problems, Krenz authorizes secret meetings with West Germany to obtain emergency loans in exchange for a certain liberalization of movement between the two Germanys.

181November 1: Gorbachev meets with Krenz at the Kremlin and calls on him to speed up reforms and open borders to “avoid an explosion.” The GDR does so with respect to Czechoslovakia the same day, and two days later Czechoslovakia allows the transit of East Germans to the West.

182November 3: The Bulgarian environmental group Eco-glasnost holds pro-democracy demonstrations in Sofia. An estimated 9,000 protesters attend the event.

183November 4: A crowd of 500,000 East Germans demonstrates for democracy in East Berlin.

184November 7: East German Premier Willi Stoph and his cabinet resign.

185November 8: Hans Modrow is named the new premier of East Germany.

186November 9: The CPSU Politburo debates a proposal to grant Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Byelorussia the right of “economic self-accountability.”

187November 9: Helmut Kohl visits Warsaw. Wałęsa expresses concern that the opening of the wall between East and West Germany will divert FRG re-sources to the GDR and away from Poland.

188November 9: The GDR announces the opening of all borders, including the Berlin Wall. Berliners from both sides cross through the eight check points, and began to chip away at the concrete and steel barrier.

189November 9: Zhivkov, general secretary of the Bulgarian party since 1954 and president since 1971, is deposed and replaced by Petar Mladenov.

190November 13: The East German Parliament, the Volkskammer, confirms that Modrow will replace Stoph as premier.

191November 17: Modrow disbands the East German Ministry for State Security.

192November 17: Mladenov is elected president of Bulgaria.

193November 19: Civic Forum is formed in Prague as an umbrella opposition organization.

194November 20: Mass demonstrations take place in Prague’s Wenceslas Square.

195November 21: A closed-door meeting is held between Czechoslovak Premier Adamec and the leaders of Civic Forum. Havel later announces that Adamec promised not to impose martial law and to investigate charges of brutality by the security forces.

196November 23: Deposed Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubček makes his first public appearance in 21 years at a 70,000-person anti-government demonstration in Bratislava.

197November 24: Ceauşescu is elected to another term as general secretary. He calls the party the “vital center” of Romanian life.

198November 24: Jakeš and the rest of the Politburo and Secretariat resign their party posts. Karel Urbánek is named the new CPCz leader.

199November 28: Kohl unveils his 10-point plan for German reunification.

200November 28: In Czechoslovakia, Adamec, now serving in a caretaker role after resigning on the 24th, pledges that the communists will give up their monopoly on power.

201November 29: The Czechoslovak Parliament removes the clause in the Constitution concerning the “leading role” of the Communist Party.

202November 30: Speaking in Rome, Gorbachev calls for a “common European home.”

203December 1: Gorbachev meets with Pope John Paul II and promises to reestablish diplomatic relations with the Vatican and enact a law guaranteeing freedom of conscience and the legalization of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

204December 1: The East German Parliament abolishes the Communist Party’s special status.

205December 2–3: The Malta summit takes place. Gorbachev tries to get Bush to commit to his idea of the gradual transformation of Eastern Europe with the close cooperation of the superpowers in order to prevent instability. The U.S. president states that he will not “jump on the wall,” but pressures the Soviet leader on regional conflicts, especially in Central America. Gorbachev suggests recognizing the primacy of common democratic values rather than Western ideals in the final communiqué.

206December 3: The East German Politburo resigns, including Krenz and Modrow. Krenz is reinstated as general secretary, Modrow as premier; Honecker and Stoph are expelled from the party.

207December 3: Civic Forum rejects Adamec’s proposal for a cabinet headed by him and including non-communists.

208December 4: Gorbachev meets in Moscow with leaders of the Warsaw Pact nations. Bulgaria is represented by Mladenov; Czechoslovakia by Urbánek; East Germany by Krenz and Modrow; Hungary by Nyers; Poland by Mazowiecki; Romania by Ceauşescu. They issue a condemnation of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, although Ceauşescu refuses to sign on.

209December 5: A new Czechoslovak cabinet is formed with a non-communist majority.

210December 6: Krenz resigns as East Germany’s head of state and chairman of the council on national defense. Manfred Gerlach is named interim president.

211December 7: The East German government announces multiparty elections scheduled for May 6, 1990.

212December 7: Jakeš is expelled from the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

213December 7–9: Independent opposition groups in Bulgaria merge to form the Union of Democratic Forces.

214December 9: Gregor gysi replaces Krenz as East Germany’s communist leader.

215December 10: Husák, leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party from 1968 to December 1987 and president since May 1975, resigns the presidency.

216December 11: Bulgarian leader Mladenov announces support for free elections and pledges to end the Party’s leading role in society.

217December 12: The second session of the USSR Congress of People’s Deputies convenes. Gorbachev refuses to discuss the elimination of Article VI stipulating the leading role of the Communist Party, and hounds Sakharov from the podium.

218December 13: Zhivkov is expelled from the Bulgarian Communist Party.

219December 13: Twenty-four Western nations announce a $1 billion emergency fund for Poland’s economy.

220December 14: Andrei Sakharov dies.

221December 14: About 20,000 protesters surround the Bulgarian Parliament building and demand an end to the Communist Party’s political monopoly.

222December 17: Romanian security forces fire on demonstrators in Timisoara.

223December 18: The European Economic Community and the Soviet Union sign a 10-year commercial agreement.

224December 19: Modrow and Kohl meet in Dresden.

225December 22: After a speech in Bucharest’s main square, the Romanian dictator flees in a helicopter. The “National Salvation Front” declares itself to be the new government. The Soviets hail the overthrow of Ceauşescu as reflecting “the will of the Romanian people.”

226December 23: The Brandenburg gate is reopened in Berlin.

227December 23: Provisional Romanian leader Ion Iliescu declares himself in favor of a renovated socialism. He calls for a program of action that commits itself to promoting the “common values of humanity.”

228December 24: On NBC Television’s interview program “Meet the Press,” Baker says the United States will not object if the Warsaw Pact intervenes in Romania. On the same day, in a conversation between Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Aboimov and U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock, the Soviet diplomat responds to the idea that Moscow should consider becoming militarily involved in Romania by suggesting that the USSR is offering the Brezhnev Doctrine to the United States “as a gift,” adding that Soviet use of force in Eastern Europe is out of question.

229December 25: Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena, are executed after a hasty trial before a military tribunal.

230December 28: The Czechoslovak Parliament elects Dubček as chairman.

231December 29: The National Salvation Front—Romania’s provisional government—announces that Romania is no longer a communist state.

232December 29: Havel is elected Czechoslovakia’s new president. Dubček becomes speaker of the Federal Assembly.


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234Blanton, Thomas, William Burr and Vladislav Zubok, eds. “Chronology,” Briefing Book for the CNN “Cold War” Television History (unpublished, July 1997).

235Dawisha, Karen. Eastern Europe, Gorbachev, and Reform (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

236The Foreign Affairs Chronology of World Events: 1978–1991, 2nd ed. (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1992).

237Garthoff, Raymond L. The Great Transition: American–Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1994).

238Gates, Robert M. From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996).

239Lévesque, Jacques. The Enigma of 1989: The USSR and the Liberation of Eastern Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

240Matlock, Jack F. Jr. Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador’s Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union (New York: Random House, 1995).

241Oberdorfer, Don. The Turn: From the Cold War to a New Era: the United States and the Soviet Union, 1983–1990 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992).

242Shakhnazarov, Georgy Kh. The Price of Freedom. Gorbachev’s Reformation As Seen by His Assistant (Moscow: Rossika-Zevs, 1993).

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244The Union Could Have Been Preserved. Documents and Facts on the Policy of M.S. Gorbachev to Reform and Preserve the Multinational State (Moscow: Act Publishers, 2007).


1 Compiled and edited by National Security Archive staff: Svetlana Savranskaya, Gregory F. Domber, Catherine Nielsen, Vladislav Zubok, Thomas Blanton, Malcolm Byrne, William Burr, Kevin Symons, Matthew Talbot, Anna Melyakova.

© Central European University Press, 2010

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