The Latvian SSR was a Soviet Republic, and a constituent part of the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1991.
Latvia had broken away from the Russian Empire after the Russian Revolution and, after a successful war with Bolshevist Russia from 1918 to 1920, remained independent until 1940 as a Republic of Latvia . It was annexed by the Soviet Union in 17 June, 1940, in conformity with the terms of 23 August, 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and then occupied by Nazi Germany in June - July, 1941. The Latvian SSR was restored in the autumn of 1944 after Soviet Army assumed control over most of its territory thus annexing Latvia for the second time.
The Latvian SSR, along with the other Baltic Soviet Republics was allowed greater autonomy in the late 1980s, and in 1988 the old pre-war Flag of Latvia was allowed to be used, and replaced the Soviet Latvian flag as the official flag in 1990. Pro-independence Latvian Popular Front candidates gained a two-thirds majority in the Supreme Council in the March, 1990 democratic elections. On May 4, the Council declared its intention to restore full Latvian independence after a "transitional" period through negotiations with the USSR. But the central power in Moscow continued to regard Latvia as Soviet republic in 1990-1991. In January 1991, Soviet political and military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the legitimate Latvian authorities by occupying the central publishing house in Riga and establishing a "Committee of National Salvation" to usurp governmental functions. During the "transitional" period Moscow maintained many central Soviet state authorities in Latvia. In spite of this, seventy-three percent of all Latvian residents confirmed their strong support for independence on March 3, 1991, in a nonbinding "advisory" referendum. A large number of ethnic Russians also voted for the proposition.
The Republic of Latvia declared the end of "transitional period" and restored de facto full independence on August 21, 1991 in the aftermath of the failed Soviet coup attempt. The Latvian SSR ceased to exist 4 months before the Soviet Union (25 December, 1991). Today's Republic of Latvia regards itself as a continuation of the 1918-1940 independent republic, and does not accept any connection with the former Latvian SSR (1940-1991) that existed during the period of Soviet annexation of Latvia.
Last updated: 05-21-2005 14:55:54