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Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to declare independence, in mid-March 1990. Estonia followed about two weeks later. Latvia was the last Baltic state to declare independence, and did so in May of 1990.

However, the Soviet government retained power (through military force) over these republics until Yeltsin formally dissolved the Soviet Union as a legal entity in December 1991. Ignoring the democratic process, he did this despite the fact that there had been an all-Union referendum with about 76% of voters voting to retain the Soviet Union, in a revised form that made membership voluntary.

- Thomas Callahan, grad student in Russian Studies, New York University.

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Q: Were the baltic states the first to delcare independence from Soviet Union?
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