In 1980, on this day the political unrest that had been simmering within the USSR for months finally exploded into outright civil war as a group calling itself the Patriotic Liberation Movement(PLM) launched a series of attacks on CPSU buildings in Kiev, Gorky, and Minsk.
Second Soviet Civil WarIn his initial public comments on the uprising, Soviet premier Konstantin Chernenko (pictured) denounced the PLM as "criminals" and "traitors" and vowed the insurrection would be swiftly crushed. He would be dead wrong on that score, however; the Russian civil war would go on to last over six and a half years, during which time the Warsaw Pact alliance would break up while Soviet-backed Marxist regimes and guerrilla factions in Africa and Latin America would tumble like bowling pins. In fact, by the time the last remnants of the Red Army surrendered to the rebels in June of 1987, there would only be five nations left in the entire world still under Communist rule-- and that number would drop to four with the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1989.
A new installment in the Necessary Evil threadWithout Soviet money and arms to prop them up, the Kremlin's allies found themselves either toppled by armed revolt or forced to abdicate in the face of widespread protests from non-Communist dissident movements. The most violent of these upheavals came in 1985, when Ethiopian dictator Haile Menigstu was assassinated just as his country faced the worst famine in its history; the most dramatic instance of non-violent change happened a year later when Nicaraguan Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega quietly resigned after negotiating a cease-fire with anti-Communist insurgents in his own country and arranging for free elections to choose a new government for Nicaragua.
During the same time that the Russian civil war was raging, Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha died suddenly of heart failure, plunging that country into a political crisis which would last into the early 1990s; in Romania, Marxist ruler Nicolae Ceaucescu would be overthrown and subsequently executed in one of the bloodiest coups eastern Europe had seen in a generation. Moscow's staunchest allies in the Middle East, Iraq and Syria, would turn to China for military and economic assistance as Soviet power gradually weakened and then collapsed.