The Cold War ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. Fifteen nations broke free of the fallen Soviet Union at that time, giving birth to democracy in the region.
The end of the Cold War began in the late 1980s with the ascension of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He weakened the Soviet state by dissolving autocratic elements of the government and instilling democratic institutions. These changes shifted power away from his own party and into the hands of surrounding nations. The democratization of East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary hastened the end of the Cold War, and the unification of East and West Germany further led to the Soviet Union's downfall. The Cold War also ended when an anticommunist leader who was democratically elected took charge of Russia.