Today we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union. On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union, declaring the office extinct and dissolving the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), that had existed since 1922. In August of 1991, a group of Communist Party hardliners frustrated by the separatist movement attempted to stage a coup. They quickly failed due to a massive show of civil resistance. By December of 1991, 16 Soviet republics had declared their independence, and Gorbachev handed over power to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, ending the USSR. It may have been the end of the world for Putin, but the beginning of freedom for millions of citizens of former Soviet republics.