regional organisation whose participating countries are former Soviet Republic
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (Russian: Содружество Независимых Государств, Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv, initialism: СНГ, SNG) is a regional intergovernmental organization of nine (originally ten) members, plus two founding non-member, post-Soviet republics in Eurasia. It was formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It covers an area of 20,368,759 km2 (7,864,422 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 239,796,010. The CIS encourages cooperation in economic, political and military affairs and has certain powers relating to the coordination of trade, finance, lawmaking, and security. It has also promoted cooperation on cross-border crime prevention.
The CIS has its origins with the Russian Empire, which was replaced in 1917 by the Russian Republic after the February Revolution earlier that year. Following the October Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the leading republic in the Soviet Union (USSR) upon its creation with the 1922 Treaty and Declaration of the Creation of the USSR along with Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR. When the USSR began to fall in 1991, the founding republics signed the Belavezha Accords on 8 December 1991, declaring that the Soviet Union would cease to exist and proclaimed the CIS in its place. A few days later the Alma-Ata Protocol was signed, which declared that the Soviet Union was dissolved and that the Russian Federation was to be its successor state. The Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), which regard their membership in the Soviet Union as an illegal occupation, chose not to participate. Georgia withdrew its membership in 2008. Ukraine ended its participation in CIS statutory bodies on 19 May 2018.Eight of the nine CIS member states participate in the CIS Free Trade Area. Three organisations are under the overview of the CIS, namely the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union (alongside subdivisions, the Eurasian Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Space, which comprises territory inhabited by over 180 million people); and the Union State. While the first and the second are military and economic alliances, the third aims to reach a supranational union of Russia and Belarus with a common government, flag, currency and so on.
Several international organisations, human rights groups and outside observers have criticised the CIS and its member states for its repressive human rights abuses, limited civil rights and indefinite imprisonment or execution of political figures and dissidents.
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