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Soviet Union

This tag is associated with 17 posts

December 24 1979 Soviet tanks enter Afghanistan


On December 24th 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978. As midnight approached, the Soviets organised a massive military airlift into Kabul, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and three divisions of almost 8,500 men each. Within a few days, the Soviets had secured Kabul, … Continue reading

December 20 1917 Creation of Russia’s Cheka security service


On December 20th 1917, the first Soviet security organisation, Cheka, was founded. While the KGB is the stereotypical Soviet secret police in modern society, the Cheka were the first of its kind, created by Lenin in 1917 in order to stabilise Russian society after the Bolshevik Revolution and the dismantling of the Russian monarchy. Cheka’s … Continue reading

November 2 1982 Truck explosion kills 3,000 in Afghanistan


On November 2nd 1982, a truck exploded in the Salang Tunnel in Afghanistan, killing an estimated 3,000 people, mostly Soviet soldiers travelling to Kabul. The Soviet Union’s military foray into Afghanistan was disastrous by nearly every measure, but perhaps the worst single incident was the Salang Tunnel explosion in 1982. A long army convoy was … Continue reading

October 22 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis


On October 22nd 1962, in a televised speech of extraordinary gravity, President John F. Kennedy announced that U.S. spy planes had discovered Soviet missile bases in Cuba. These missile sites, under construction but nearing completion, housed medium-range missiles capable of striking a number of major cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C. Kennedy announced … Continue reading

October 1 1949 Mao Zedong proclaims People’s Republic of China


On October 1st 1949, naming himself head of state, communist revolutionary Mao Zedong officially proclaimed the existence of the People’s Republic of China; Zhou Enlai was named premier. The proclamation was the climax of years of battle between Mao’s communist forces and the regime of Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek, who had been supported with … Continue reading

September 1 2004 Chechen separatists storm Russian school


On September 1st 2004, an armed gang of Chechen separatist rebels entered a school in southern Russia and took more than 1,000 people hostage. The rebels demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from the disputed nearby region of Chechnya. September 1st was the first day of a new school year for millions of students across … Continue reading

August 13 1926 Fidel Castro born


On August 13th 1926, Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro was born in the Oriente province of eastern Cuba. The son of a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune building rail systems to transport sugar cane, Fidel attended Roman Catholic boarding schools in Santiago de Cuba. He became involved in revolutionary politics while he was a … Continue reading

July 14 1963 Rupture between USSR and China grows worse


On June 14th 1963, according to a public statement made by the Chinese government, a much more militant and aggressive policy was needed in order to spread the communist revolution worldwide. There could be no “peaceful coexistence” with the forces of capitalism, and the statement chided the Russians for trying to reach a diplomatic understanding … Continue reading

July 11 1979 Skylab crashes to Earth


On July 11th 1979, parts of Skylab, America‘s first space station, come crashing down on Australia and into the Indian Ocean five years after the last manned Skylab mission ended. No one was injured. Launched in 1973, Skylab was the world’s first successful space station. The first manned Skylab mission came two years after the … Continue reading

June 18 1983 First American woman in space


On June 18th 1983, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the space shuttle Challenger is launched into space on its second mission. Aboard the shuttle was Dr. Sally Ride, who as a mission specialist became the first American woman to travel into space. During the six-day mission, Ride, an astrophysicist from Stanford University, operated the shuttle’s robot … Continue reading

Jun 16 1963 First woman in space


On June 16th 1963, aboard Vostok 6, Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel into space. After 48 orbits and 71 hours, she returned to earth, having spent more time in space than all U.S. astronauts combined to that date. Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was born to a peasant family in Maslennikovo, Russia, … Continue reading

June 3 1990 Bush and Gorbachev end second summit meeting


  On June 3rd 1990, President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ended their three-day summit meeting with warm words of friendship, but without any concrete agreement concerning German reunification.Bush and Gorbachev held their second summit conference in Washington, D.C. The main topic of conversation was the future of a reunified Germany. Communist rule … Continue reading

May 25 1977 Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare


  On May 25th 1977, a new sign of political liberalisation appeared in China, when the communist government lifted its decade-old ban on the writings of William Shakespeare. The action by the Chinese government was additional evidence that the Cultural Revolution was over. In 1966, Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of the People’s Republic of China, … Continue reading

May 14 1955 Warsaw Pact formed


The Soviet Union and seven of its European satellites sign a treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact, a mutual defence organisation that put the Soviets in command of the armed forces of the member states. The Warsaw Pact, so named because the treaty was signed in Warsaw, included the Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East … Continue reading

May 11 1988 Soviet double agent Kim Philby dies


On May 11th 1988, Kim Philby, a former British Secret Intelligence Service officer and double agent for the Soviet Union, died in Moscow at the age of 76. Philby was perhaps the most famous of a group of British government officials who served as Russian spies from the 1930s to the 1950s. Philby came from … Continue reading

May 7 1960 Brezhnev becomes president of the USSR


On May 7th 1960, Leonid Brezhnev, one of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s most trusted proteges, was selected as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet—the Soviet equivalent to the presidency. This was another important step in Brezhnev’s rise to power in Russia, a rise that he later capped by taking control of the Soviet … Continue reading

April 25 1983 Yuri Andropov writes to U.S. student


On April 25th 1983, the Soviet Union released a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov had written to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, asking if the Soviets were planning to start … Continue reading

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