15 years since Gorbachev stepped down

It is 15 years since the first and the last Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigned from office. He ruled the USSR during the last 7 years of its existence, 2 years of them as President.

Ironically enough, Mr Gorbachev himself introduced the post of President of the USSR.

Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation in a 10-minute long speech. It was broadcast live on all television channels. The Soviet president said he was resigning as a matter of principle after the Soviet Union collapsed on December, the 8th, 1991, following the Belovezhskaya accords.

40 minutes after Mr Gorbachev's speech, the red Soviet flag was lowered over the Kremlin, and the Russian white-blue-and-red banner took its place for the first time.

Mikhail Gorbachev also passed control of the country's nuclear forces to the new Russian President, Boris Yeltsin.

These events symbolised the end of the Soviet Union as a state, and its transition to the Russian Federation.