When the Soviet Union fell in 1990, three of its 15 components, the Baltic States, joined the European Union, and a fourth, Moldova, may well join in the future. The other 11 quickly became presidential republics, following the lead given by Boris Yeltsin, the president of the largest among them, Russia. By 1994, all 11 were headed by a president elected by universal suffrage. These ex-Soviet countries contribute significantly to the number of presidential republics in the world. Presidential republics form a clear majority, being predominant in Latin America and Africa, alongside the ex-Soviet Union. They are rare in Europe, the main cases being France, Romania, and, though seemingly temporarily, some Balkan states; in Asia, outside the ex-Soviet Union, they are a small minority.
Like many presidential republics elsewhere, those in the ex-Soviet Union are mostly authoritarian, but with variations: this is primarily so in Central Asia, as well as in Azerbaijan and Belarus. These presidencies have been very stable, with some of their leaders, especially in Central Asia, being repeatedly re-elected, often without opposition. There has been a regular turnover in Armenia (but less so in Georgia) and in Ukraine (but not in Belarus). The Russian case is peculiar, as is well known: Putin became prime minister because he could no longer be constitutionally re-elected as president, at least without a break. The power of these presidents has varied over time: outside Central Asia (except Kyrgyzstan) and Azerbaijan, where they have been uniformly strong, their strength has declined in Georgia, increased in Russia and Belarus, and had ups and downs in Armenia and Ukraine.