Not long ago I mentioned a hapless soul who was brought to my blog searching for a "photo of the collapse of the Soviet Union," which raised the question of what that iconic photo might be, as the collapse itself really took place over the course of several months (even years). After digging around on the web and getting suggestions and submissions from others, here are several candidates that seem to best capture "the collapse." And additional submissions that I've missed are, of course, welcome!
First, on Lyndon's suggestion, we have a trio of photos depicting Chernobyl, the Soviet exodus from Afghanistan, and bread lines. In Lyndon's honor, the bread line photo was supposedly taken in Chisinau:
Next, recognizing the importance that nationalist mobilization and protests played in bringing down the Soviet system, we have a photo of the human chain across the Baltics in 1989, followed by one of the riots in Yerevan in 1988.
Next, there are the many notable images surrounding the August 1991 coup. The first is the memorable image of the coup plotters, visibly shaken (and shaking) appearing on television:
At the barricades in Moscow and St. Petersburg:
Then, of course, we have the famous photos of Yeltsin at the White House:
This one was sent to me by Andy at Siberian Light:
The triumphant toppling of Dzerzhinsky's statue in front of the Lubyanka (which, as it turns out, had a little help from a crane from the U.S. Embassy):
And of course, there are the the somewhat sad images of Gorbachev's return to Moscow:
Soon after it was apparent that there was a new man calling the shots in Moscow:
And eventually it was that man who met with the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus in this villa at Belovezh to formally dissolve the Soviet Union:
...All of which led to the Soviet hammer and sickle being lowerd from the Kremlin for the last time on December 25, 1991:
I still don't think I could pick just one that truly encapsulates "the collapse," though I think the Baltic chain is my sentimental favorite.
And in honor of the democratic ideals of that time, I suppose we should have a little online poll: which image do you think best captures the collapse of the Soviet Union?