Moscow, Russia 1991
A scene from one of the main department stores in central Moscow.
In December 1991, food shortages in central Russia had prompted food rationing in the Moscow area for the first time since World War II. Amid steady collapse, Soviet President Gorbachev and his government continued to oppose rapid market reforms like Yavlinsky's "500 Days" program. To break Gorbachev's opposition, Yeltsin decided to disband the USSR in accordance with the Treaty of the Union of 1922 and thereby remove Gorbachev and the Soviet government from power. The step was also enthusiastically supported by the governments of Ukraine and Belarus, which were parties of the Treaty of 1922 along with Russia.
On December 21, 1991, representatives of all member republics except Georgia signed the Alma-Ata Protocol, in which they confirmed the dissolution of the Union. That same day, all former-Soviet republics agreed to join the CIS, with the exception of the three Baltic States.