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The possible beginning of the fragmentation of the Communist Party and the Soviet era took place when Boris Yeltsin, leader of the Russian S.S.R. who urged faster reform, left the Communist Party along with other radicals. In March 1991, the Soviet people were asked to vote on a referendum on national unity engineered by President Gorbachev. The resultant victory for the federal government was tempered by the separate approval in Russia for the creation of a popularly elected presidency of the Russian republics. The bitter election contest for the Russian presidency, principally between Yeltsin and a Communist loyalist, resulted in a major victory for Yeltsin. He took the oath of office for the new position on July 10, 1991.
Reversing his relative hard-line position, Gorbachev together with leaders of nine Soviet republics signed an accord called the Union Treaty, which was meant to preserve the unity of the nation. In exchange the federal government would have turned over control of industrial and natural resources to the individual republics. An attempted coup d'état took place on August 19, 1991, orchestrated by a group of eight senior officials calling itself the State Committee on the State of Emergency. Boris Yeltsin, barricaded in the Russian parliament building, defiantly called for a general strike. The next day huge crowds demonstrated in Leningrad, and Yeltsin supporters fortified barricades surrounding the parliament building. On August 21 the coup committee disbanded, and at least some of its members attempted to flee Moscow. The Soviet parliament formally reinstated Gorbachev as president. Two days later he resigned from his position as General-Secretary of the Communist Part!
y and recommended that its Central Committee be disbanded. On August 29 the parliament approved the suspension of all Communist Party activities pending an investigation of its role in the failed...
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