Leaders mark Soviet dissolution, urge Ukraine dialogue

Three former top Soviet officials on Friday marked the signing 25 years ago of the treaty that formally dissolved the Soviet Union, and they used the occasion to urge dialogue on the deadly separatist conflict in Ukraine.

On Dec. 8, 1991, the leaders of the Soviet republics of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed a pact that broke up the U.S.S.R. Negotiations were held in secret in a government hunting lodge in Belarus, and the pact defeated the efforts of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to keep the country together.

One of the signatories, Stanislav Shushkevich, then head of the Belarusian parliament, said the deal helped avoid civil wars and other calamities that could...