USSR Comes to an End
On December 21st 1991 representatives of 11 former Soviet Republics met in Alma Ata and signed the founding "Declaration of the Commonwealth of Independant States"– a loose confederation of the former Republics. Four day later, Gorbachev announced his resignation and the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
The Soviet Union was rapidly weakening. With Eastern Europe becoming free the Baltic states pushed for freedom as well. The Soviets sent their tanks into Latvia and Lithuania and temporarily delayed the inevitable. In August 1991 there was an unsuccessful coup attempt by hard-liners against Gorbachev. Moscow Mayor Yeltsin saved Gorbachev. Gorbachev was weakened, and the democratic forces were strengthened.
The Communist parties central committee was banned. A few days after the failed coup Ukraine and Belarus declared their independence. On December 21st a meeting was held between Yeltsin, Gorbachev and leaders of Belarus and Ukraine at Barest. There they decided to form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Four days later on December 25th Mikhail Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet hammer and sickle flag was lowered for the last time in the Kremlin. The tricolor of the Russian state replaced it.