The Polish communists dropped efforts to impose Soviet-style collectivization on the peasants and to break the Catholic Church.
The Polish economy suffered greatly because of poor leadership and the world depression of the 1970s .
The “ Polish miracle ” occurred when the economic crisis became a spiritual crisis as well. Karol Wojtyla
Pope John Paul II , former archbishop of Cracow, called attention to the rights of all people.
Lech Walesa led the new democratic trade union movement called Solidarity . Its demands were for industrial, political, and economic rights. Solidarity had massive support and a sophisticated organization.
When Solidarity lost its cohesiveness , the Polish communist leadership under Jaruzelski smashed the movement (1981) and imposed martial law .
A new era of fundamental change began under Gorbachev in 1985.
He set forth a series of reforms to restructure the economy – PERESTROIKA, centering on a freer market economy , but the economy stalled midway between central planning (command) and free-market mechanisms.
He instituted GLASNOST, or openness in society and politics, leading to more freedom of speech .
Democratization of the Soviet state was begun; free elections were held in 1989 for the first time since 1917 ; meetings of Congress were televised.
Democratization encouraged demands for autonomy by non-Russian minorities.
Gorbachev withdrew troops from Afghanistan and encouraged reform in Eastern Europe, repudiating the Brezhnev Doctrine .
In February 1990 the Communist party lost local elections all over the U.S.S.R.
In August 1991 hardline communist leaders opposed to change attempted a coup against Gorbachev . Russian Federation president Boris Yeltsin rallied the Moscow populace and some of the armed forces successfully against the coup .
An anti-communist revolution swept the Soviet Union as the constituent republics, including Russia, declared independence. The Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 25, 1991 .