Creation of the Eastern Bloc
Bolsheviks took power in Russia following the
Russian Revolution of 1917. During the
Russian Civil War that followed, coinciding with the
Red Army's entry into
Minsk in 1919, Belarus was declared the
Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia. After more conflict, the
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was declared in 1920. With the defeat of
Ukraine in the
Polish-Ukrainian War, after the March 1921
Peace of Riga following the
Polish-Soviet War, central and eastern Ukraine were annexed into the Soviet Union as the
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1922, the
Byelorussian SSR and
Transcaucasian SFSR were
officially merged as republics creating the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or
During the final stages of World War II, the
Soviet Union began the creation of the
Eastern Bloc by directly annexing several countries as
Soviet Socialist Republics that were originally effectively ceded to it by Nazi Germany in the
These included Eastern
Poland (incorporated into
three different SSRs),
 part of eastern
Karelo-Finnish SSR, and later merged into the
 and northern
Romania (became the
 By 1945, these additional annexed countries totaled approximately 465,000 additional square kilometers (180,000 square miles), or slightly more than the area of West Germany, East Germany and Austria combined.
Other states were converted into
Soviet Satellite states, such as the
People's Republic of Poland, the
People's Republic of Hungary,
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic,
People's Republic of Romania, the
People's Republic of Albania,
 and later
East Germany from the Soviet zone of German occupation.
Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was also considered part of the Bloc,
 though a
Tito-Stalin split occurred in 1948
 followed by the formation of the
Conditions in the Eastern Bloc
Throughout the Eastern Bloc, both in the Soviet Union and the rest of the Bloc, the Russian SFSR was given prominence, and referred to as the naibolee vydajuščajasja nacija (the most prominent nation) and the rukovodjaščij narod (the leading people).
 The Soviets promoted the reverence of Russian actions and characteristics, and the construction of Soviet Communist structural hierarchies in the other countries of the Eastern Bloc.
The defining characteristic of communism implemented in the
Eastern Bloc was the unique symbiosis of the state with society and the economy, resulting in politics and economics losing their distinctive features as autonomous and distinguishable spheres.
 Initially, Stalin directed systems that rejected Western institutional characteristics of
market economies, democratic governance (dubbed "
bourgeois democracy" in Soviet parlance) and the rule of law subduing discretional intervention by the state.
 The Soviets mandated expropriation and estatization of private property.
The Soviet-style "replica regimes" that arose in the Bloc not only reproduced Soviet
command economies, but also adopted the brutal methods employed by
Joseph Stalin and Soviet secret police to suppress real and potential opposition.
 Communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc saw even marginal groups of opposition intellectuals as a potential threat because of the bases underlying Communist power therein.
 The suppression of dissidence and opposition was a central prerequisite for the security of Communist power within the Eastern Bloc, though the degree of opposition and dissident suppression varied by country and time throughout the Bloc.
In addition, media in the Eastern Bloc served as an organ of the state, completely reliant on, and subservient to, the ruling Communist parties, with radio and television organizations being state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the ruling Communist party.
 Furthermore, the Eastern Bloc experienced economic mis-development by central planners resulting in those countries following a path of extensive rather than intensive development, and lagged far behind their western European counterparts in per capita Gross Domestic Product.
 Empty shelves in shops even in East Germany provided an open reminder of the inaccuracy of propaganda regarding purported magnificent and uninterrupted economic progress.