August: Polish strikes give birth to Solidarność workers’ movement and paralyse regime for 16 months.
December: Military rule and arrests smash Polish workers’ movement.
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union.
May: At the Soviet Communist Congress Gorbachev complains of economic “stagnation” and calls for perestroika (economic restructuring) and glasnost (opening up of criticism).
The media in the Soviet Union begins exposing social and economic horrors.
November: Romanian general strike and uprising in Brasov crushed by Securitate riot police.
March: Massive riots in the Soviet republic of Armenia.
May: Defeated Russian troops begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
June: First open discussion at Communist Party congress in Soviet Union since 1928.
June: Hungarian riot police viciously smash up demonstation commemorating execution of Imre Nagy, prime minister during the 1956 Revolution.
August-September: Wave of strikes in Poland. Secret talks between the government and Solidarność leader Lech Walesa.
February-April: Roundtable negotiations between government and opposition in Poland. Agreement on power sharing, free elections and legalisation of Solidarność.
March: Mass demonstrations in Hungary on its national day.
March: A number of ruling party candidates lose in first semi-free elections since the 1920s in the Soviet Union.
March: In Bulgaria the government tries to divert attention from its own failings by campaigning against the Turkish minority.
April: Secret meeting between government and opposition in Hungary.
April: Russian troops massacre protesters in Soviet republic of Georgia.
April: 100,000 students demonstrate in Tiananmen Square in the Chinese capital to mourn death of ousted reformist party leader Hu Yaobang.
May: Demonstrations in Tiananmen Square reach a huge size as Gorbachev visits China. Protests and strikes throughout country. Declaration of state of emergency. The army attempts to enter Beijing to crush the demonstrations but is prevented from doing so by protests.
June: Chinese army massacres students in Tiananmen Square.
June: Solidarność wins 99 percent of seats open for election in Poland.
June: Hungarian regime organises ceremonial reburial of Imre Nagy, opens its border with Austria and agrees with opposition on free parliamentary elections in nine months.
July: Miners’ strikes sweep Soviet Union from Ukraine to Siberia.
August: 65,000 East German holidaymakers in Hungary seize chance to cross over to Austria.
August: Two million strong demonstrations for independence in Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
September: People in the East German city of Leipzig hold their first weekly Monday evening demonstrations. The movement spreads across the country.
October: Erich Honecker replaced as East German leader by Egon Krenz.
November: Berlin Wall falls.
November: Bulgaria leader Zhivkov resigns after 35 years in power.
November: Czech police attack demonstration in Prague triggering protests by up to 200,000 people. A two-hour general strike follows.
November: Hungarian party dissolves itself to reform under new name.
December: Czech president Gustáv Husák resigns after 20 years in power.
December: Romanian Securitate riot police and army try to smash strikes and riots in city of Timisoara. A rally addressed by the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu turns into a spontaneous uprising, forcing him to flee. Government formed by second ranking members of regime executes Ceausescu and his wife after two-hour public trial.
December: Measures against Turkish minority in Bulgaria annulled after massive protests.
March: East Germany holds its first free election.
July: Demonstrations by young people in Albania. The regime introduces reforms while clinging on to power.
October: East Germany merges with West Germany.
March: Second big miners’ strike in Soviet Union.
June: Albanian general strike forces prime minister to resign.
June: Boris Yeltsin wins Russia’s presidential election.
August: Attempted coup against Gorbachev. Yeltsin organises demonstrations. Majority of army turns against coup. Ukraine declares independence from Soviet Union and is followed by Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kyrgistan and Armenia.
December: Yeltsin and leaders of the other Soviet republics declare dissolution of Soviet Union.