Albania entered the year 1990 as one of the most cruel Communist dictatorships. Changes in Central and Eastern Europe seemed to have no impact on the country, which had been isolated for many years. Their echoes, however, reached society, raising hopes for the fall of the regime.


The first protests took place on 14 January 1990 in Shkoder, where the protesters tried to topple a statue of Stalin. At the end of January, the students in Tirana demanded the removal of Enver Hoxha (who ruled in the years 1944-1985) from power and a change in the name of the university. The first strikes broke out in March. In response, the authorities announced limited reforms - allowing foreign investments, making businesses independent and lifting the ban on religious cults. Diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union were resumed and the application for accession to the Organization for Security and Co-operation was filed. This did not prevent further protests - for instance, at the beginning of July, the rebellion of the residents of the town of Kavail was brutally pacified. Fleeing abroad was intensified despite orders to shoot at the fugitives which were in force (in 1990, at least 57 people were killed).


In December 1990, during the student protests in Tirana, the first opposition party was established - the Albanian Democratic Party. Soon, it started to publish its own newspaper - “Rilindja Demokratike” (“Democratic Rebirth”). In February 1991, in Tirana and other cities, protesters toppled the statues of Hohxa. However, in the elections quickly announced in March 1991, the communists won an overwhelming majority. This led to further protests; in Shkodër, the army killed four protesters. The protests continued despite further changes – starting with the name of the country through to the abolition of kolkhozes and amnesty for political prisoners. Eventually, the communists lost power in subsequent elections organised in March 1992 - the government was formed by the Albanian Democratic Party and its leader Sali Berisha became President. Former communists, however, returned to power on many occasions. To this day, Albania is still strongly affected by the political, economic and social consequences of the brutal dictatorship.