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Associated Press

Gorbachev’s resignation 30 years ago marked the end of USSR

People strolling across Moscow’s snowy Red Square on the evening of Dec. 25, 1991 were surprised to witness one of the 20th century’s most pivotal moments — the Soviet red flag over the Kremlin pulled down and replaced with the Russian Federation’s tricolor. Just minutes earlier, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation in a live televised address to the nation, concluding 74 years of Soviet history. In his memoirs, Gorbachev, now 90, bitterly lamented his failure to prevent the USSR’s demise, an event that upset the world’s balance of power and sowed the seeds of an ongoing tug-of-war between Russia and neighboring Ukraine.