In Pictures: The Collapse of the Soviet Union • Magnum Photos

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Politics

In Pictures: The Collapse of the Soviet Union

25 years since its dissolution, a look back up at the events leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union as captured through the lenses of Magnum Photographers

Magnum Photographers

Gueorgui Pinkhassov Barricades near the Parliament building. Vilnius, Lithuania. 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Soviet Intervention in front of the Lithuanian parliament. Vilnius, Lithuania. January 14, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Sales of underground newspapers. January 14, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Lithuanians linger around a TV tower that has been taken over by Soviet troops in a bloody pre-dawn attack that took place on January 13. Since then, the Lithuanians have fenced in the parliament b (...)
Abbas The body of a young Lithuanian man killed by Soviet troops is mourned by his family in the Cathedral. Vilnius, Lithuania. 1991. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Resistance near the parliament. Vilnius, Lithuania. January 14, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Volunteer guards in the parliament building. Vilnius, Lithuania. 1991. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins A freedom monument in Riga. Latvia. 1991. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Defaced Lenin and Stalin in Parliament Square. Vilnius, Lithuania. 1991. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Going to vote in the independence referendum. 78% of voters supported the declaration of independence. Riga, Latvia. 1991. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Demonstration against Gorbachev but in support of Boris Yeltsin. Moscow, Russia, USSR. March 28, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov In front of the White House at 6am during the Putsch (August, 19-24). Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 20, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Koutouzovsky Prospekt. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 20, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Near the Red Square on the afternoon of August 19th, 1991. Moscow, Russia, USSR. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Near the Red Square on the afternoon of August 19th, 1991. Moscow, Russia, USSR. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Funeral cortege for the victims of the Putsch. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 24, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov The dismantlement of a statue of Dzerhinsky (founder of the K.G.B.) in front of the K.G.B. building. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 22, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov The dismantlement of a statue of Dzerhinsky (founder of the K.G.B.) in front of the K.G.B. building during the Putsch. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 22, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov A tank driver reading an anti-putsch tract. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 20, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov In the city center, the crowd gathers after the announcement of the failure of the Putsch. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 22, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov A speech by B. Yeltsin outside the Beli Dom (the White House). Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 24, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Mikhail Gorbachev, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Moscow, Russia, USSR. August 29, 1991. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos

1991 was a tumultuous time for the USSR, culminating in its dissolution on December 26 of that year. This marked the end of the 22-year long Soviet communist era with all but one of the Soviet Republics declaring their independence from the Union, prompting the resignation of the then President, Mikhail Gorbachev. Twenty-five years on, a selection of photographs by Magnum photographers provide an insight into the demonstrations and uprisings across the USSR that contributed to its fall.