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Political development of contemporary Russia

Elena Meleshkina

• Perestroika and disintegration of the Soviet Union • Creation of new political regime and political development in 1990th

In March 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Central Committee of the CPSU approved proposals for reforms that soon developed into a great leap towards political and overall emancipation of the country and its people. It was fashioned upon revolution pattern and had the Great October as its archetype. Gorbachev himself recognized it speaking in Khabarovsk in the summer 1986: 'I would have put an equation sign between the words perestroika and revolution'

Mikhail Gorbachev

Ideas of Perestroika
The key notions of Perestrojka (restructuring, rebuilding) and Glasnost' (usually translated „openness‟) entered public discourse at the time of 27th Congress of the CPSU in February 1986. The main administrative instrument of these two new concepts: a law on working collectives that made it possible and even mandatory to elect top manages of state enterprisers. Slogans („more democracy, more socialism‟ and „back to Lenin‟) => embedment of democratic reform in Soviet tradition. All the reform-minded leaders around Gorbachev continued to think of reform within the existing ideological framework. The keyword 'acceleration' (uskorenie) - the guiding metaphor of the time (system is to carry on, it is still in motion, it is going somewhere).

Ideas of Perestroika
„New thinking' (novoe myshlennie) in the context of international and global issues. • quickening of pace of debate; • fragmentation of political discourse; • 'bureaucracy‟, 'apparatus', 'administrative command system' - the institutions in question as 'a braking mechanism' (mexanizm tormozhenija), or „a mechanism of standstill' (mexanizm zastoja).

• By the beginning of 1987 about 70% of the Politburo, 60% of the regional party leaders, and 40% of the Central Committee had been replaced; Struggle between three groups in the Communist party: radical reformists (B.Yelstin), moderates (M.Gorbachev), conservative (E.Ligachev). Gorbachev high-handedly dismissed Yeltsin in 1987 because of his critics.

Perestroika (governmental structures)
In December 1988, the Supreme Soviet approved formation of a Congress of People‟s Deputies - the Soviet Union's new legislative body. The Supreme Soviet then dissolved itself. Smaller working body of 542 members (also called the Supreme Soviet) to be elected from the 2,250-member Congress of People's Deputies. One-third of the seats for the CPSU and other public organizations was reserved. In March 1998 - the first competitive elections of the Soviet Union. The Congress of People's Deputies still contained 87 percent CPSU members. Genuine reformists won only 300 seats. For two weeks deputies from around the country railed against every scandal and shortcoming of the Soviet system.

Perestroika (governmental structures and political reforms)
In the summer of 1989, the first opposition bloc in the Congress of People's Deputies formed under the name of the Interregional Group of Deputies. A primary issue for the opposition - the repeal of Article 6 of the Constitution (the suremacy of the CPSU over all the institutions in society). Demonstration. Gorbachev obtained the repeal of Article 6 by the February, 1990 Central Committee plenum. He proposed the creation of a new office of President of the Soviet Union to be elected by the Congress of People's Deputies rather than the popular elections. In March 1990 Gorbachev was elected the President.

Perestroika (“Down with the empire of red fascism”)

Perestroika (the CPSU and economic reforms)
• • the separation of the CPSU from the government and stripped of its leading role in society. Success of the majority of apparatchiks in obtaining leading positions in the newly formed democratic institutions. the most radical of the economic reforms of the Gorbachev era: the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors (Mai 1988). Cooperative restaurants, shops, and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene. decentralization of economie with price controls, most government controls over the means of production. loss of governmental control over economic conditions by 1990, the increase of government spending and unprofitable enterprises, the decrease of tax revenues (republic and local governments withheld tax revenues from the central government). the elimination of central control over production decisions => the breakdown in traditional supply-demand relationships without contributing to the formation of new ones

Perestroika (international issues)
The end of the Cold War. • The end of the nine-year war in Afganistan (1988) and withdrawal of Soviet forces. • Refusal to military support of the Soviet Union‟s former satellite states => the toppling of many communist regimes. • Dismantling of the Berlin Wall (19891990), unification of East and West Germany (the fall of the Iron Curtain).

The disintegration of the Soviet Union
Gradual crumbling of the empire: - riots in Alma-Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan, against the appointment of a Russian man as the first secretary of the Kazakhstan Communist Party (1996); - Estonian demands of national independence (a large public demonstration in Tallinn in August 1987) - in February 1988 first mass manifestation with demands of withdrawal Nagorno-Karabakh autnomous oblast' from Azerbaijan => a pogrom of Armenians in Sumgait, an industrial centre close to Baku (in Azerbaijan); - In June 1988 the creation of Sajudis (Lithuanian Reform Movement) to demand fundamental political reform. The split of the Lithuanian branch of the All-Union Communist Party; a majority (A. Brazauskas) advocated pro-independence and democratic views; - in April 1989 the Soviet army was used to disperse demonstrations in Tbilisi, an action in which 20 civilians were killed

The disintegration of the Soviet Union
• legal move of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union toward declaring soveregnity in the late 1980s on the base of the Article 72 of the USSR Constitution (any constituent republic is free to secede). • the adoption of the law, allowing a republic to secede if more than two-thirds of its residents voted for it in a referendum (1990); first free elections of national legislatures (1990), making of legislation contradicting the Union laws (“War of Laws”). • the Russian Congress of People‟s Deputies (1996), election of B. Yeltsin its chairman; the declaration of Russia‟s soveregnity (12 June 1990). • a referendum for the preservation of the USSR (17 March 1991), with the majority of the population voting for preservation of the Union in nine out of the 15 republics => an agreement of eight republics about the New Union Treaty (would have turned the Soviet Union into a much looser and more decentralized Union) • the interruption of the signing of the treaty by the August Coup

August coup
• Coup d‟état by a hard-liners group of members of the Soviet Union's government and the CPSU to take control over the country from Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev; armed forces and paratroops in Moscow • Opposition (leaded by B.Yeltsin), short but effective campaign of civil resistence • The collapse of the coup in two days and the return of Gorbachev to government Results: destabilisation of the Soviet Union, the demise of the CPSU and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

August coup and State Committee of the State of Emergency (Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Chrezvichaynomu Polozheniyu)

August coup

The disintegration of the Soviet Union
• The shifting of the balance of power toward the republics. The declaration of restoration of independence of Latvia and Estonia (august 1991) • Signing of Belavezha Accord (8 December 1991) be the presidents of Russia, the Ukraine and Belorassia about the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishement of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) • In December 1991 the resignation of Gorbachev the President of the USSR and dissolution of the Suprem soviet of the Soviet Union in december 1991 (official, final dissolution of the Soviet Union) • International recognition of Russia as legal successor of the Soviet Union Russia voluntarily accepted all Soviet foreign debt and claimed overseas Soviet properties as its own.

The Russian federation and other post-Soviet states.

Boris Yeltsin

National emblem of the Russian Federation

Russian political development in 1990th
Victory of reformatory forces => policization of everyday life, expectation and hope of democratization, in the beginning of 1990th “Golden time” for creation of political parties Failure of democratization in Russia What were cases of the failure?

Causes of the failure
1. Pact as a basic foundation of new democratic regime (transitologists‟s studies of democratization in SouthWestern Europe and Latin America) - agreement on basic rules of political life and mutual guarantees => regime with determined institutions without determined results (Przeworski A.) Imperial legacy of Russia => aspiration of political forces for domination, solution of conflicts by coercion, and refuse of negotiation (two breakdown of political regime – 1991, 1993) The ban of the CPSU, the nationalization of all CPSU asserts in Russia (headquarters of party committees, educational institutions, hotels, etc.) in 1991; struggle between legislative and presidential (executive) power in 1992-1993 for domination.

Causes of the failure
2. Imperial nature of administrative-territorial organization and its complexity, lack of national identity (Soviet identity) destabilization of Russia as a single state (parade of sovereignties) 3. The lack of effective legislation (Soviet Constitution of 1978 with numerous contradictory amendments) 4. Institutional underdevelopment (destruction of Soviet institutions including the CPSU and focus on personal connections and activity);

Causes of the failure
5. the absence of new government institutions (Yeltsin enacted the most
comprehensive components of economic reform by decree, thereby circumventing the Supreme Soviet of Russia. While this spared Yeltsin from the prospects of parliamentary bargaining and wrangling, it also eliminated any meaningful discussion of the right course of action for the country).

6. Poor economic situation in Russia and necessity of economical reforms

Economic reforms
Three main goals of the reforms: (1) liberalization, (2) stabilization, and (3)privatisation. The programs of liberalization and stabilization were designed by Yeltsin's deputy prime minister Y. Gaidar, an advocate of “shock therapy". Shock therapy began in January 1992 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered the liberalization of foreign trade, prices, and currency => removing Soviet-era price controls in order to tempt goods back into empty Russian stores, removing legal barriers to private trade and manufacture, and cutting subsidies to state farms and industries while allowing foreign imports into the Russian market.

Economic reforms
Results of the “shock therapy“: • hyperinflation, initially due to issuing money to finance the debt => the near bankruptcy of much of Russian industry. • The creation of winners and losers, depending on particular industries, classes, age groups, ethnic groups, regions, and other sectors of Russian society (the new class of entrepreneurs, black marketeers and the elderly and others with fixed incomes), severe drop in living standards The policy of macroeconomic stabilization (harsh austerity regime - tight monetary and fiscal policy): floating prices, raise of interest rate, raise of heavy new taxes, cuts in government subsidies to industry, cuts in state welfare spending => widespread hardship of many state enterprises, a deep credit crunch, a protracted depression.

The struggle for the center of power in post-Soviet Russia and for the nature of the economic reforms culminated in a political crisis and bloodshed in the fall of 1993. Yeltsin, who represented a course of radical privatization, was opposed by the parliament. Dissolution of the parliament by Yeltsin confronted with opposition to the presidential power of decree and threatened with impeachment (unconstitutional decision) and announcement of new elections and a referendum on a new constitution The declaration of the parliament on dismissal of Yeltsin and appointment of A. Rutskoy Street riots on October 2–October 3. Storm of the parliament building by Special Forces and elite army units by order of Yelstin Rutskoy and the other parliamentary supporters surrendered and were immediately arrested and jailed. The official count was 187 dead, 437 wounded.

Constitutional crisis

Constitutional crisis

Political events of 1990s
- Approval of a new constitution by referendum in December 1993 and election of new parliament with circumscribed powers (1993,1995 and 1999); - 1996 Presidential election (major episode in the struggle between Yeltsin and the Communist party; Yeltsin illness and erratic behaviour => assistants induce Yeltsin to give up the election and to rule as a dictator)

1996 Presidential elections
A. Chubais and B. Yeltsin recruited a team of six leading Russian financiers and media barons (all oligarchs) who bankrolled the Yeltsin campaign with $3 million and guaranteed coverage on television and in leading newspapers. The media painted a picture of a fateful choice for Russia between Yeltsin and a "return to totalitarianism.". In the outlying regions of the country, the Yeltsin campaign relied on the patron-client ties of the local governors, most of whom had been appointed by the president. Yeltsin campaigned energetically, dispelling concerns about his health. To assuage voters' discontent, he made the claim that he would abandon some unpopular economic reforms and boost welfare spending, pay salaries and pension arrears, and abolish the military draft program

1996 Presidential election
Candidate Party First round Votes B. Yeltsin G. Zyuganov A. Lebed G. Yavlinsky V. Zhirinovsky Independent Communist Party Congress of Russian Communities Yabloko Liberal Democratic Party %

Second round
Votes % 40,203,9 54. 48 4 30,102,2 40. 88 7

26,665,4 35. 95 8 24,211,6 32. 86 5 10,974,7 14. 36 7 5,550,75 7.4 2 4,311,47 5.8 9

S. Fyodorov
M.Gorbachev M. Shakkum Y. Vlasov

Party of Worker‟s Self-Rule
Independent Independent Independent

699,158 0.9
386,069 0.5 277,068 0.4 151,282 0.2

Political events of 1990s
• The first Chechen war 1994-1996 • In 1991 independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was proclaimed (criminal activity, ethnic purges etc.) After the initial campaign of 1994–1995, culminating in the devastating Battle of Grozny, Russian federal forces attempted to seize control of the mountainous area of Chechnya but were set back. The was very unpopular. Yeltsin‟s government declared a ceasefire in 1996 and signed a peace treaty a year later.

Chechen War

Results of Yeltsin‟s politics
• deep economic depression by the mid-1990s and financial crash of 1998; • a sharp increase in the rates of poverty and economic inequality (Estimates by the World Bank: whereas 1.5% of the population was living in poverty in the late Soviet era, by mid-1993 between 39% and 49% of the population was living in poverty; per capita incomes fell by another 15% by 1998; purchasing power drastically reduced); a decrease of public health indicators (increase of alcoholrelated deaths and deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases );

Results of Yeltsin‟s politics
• Emergence of oligarchs (well-placed bosses and technocrats in the Communist Party, KGB, and Soviet Youth League (liquidated the assets of their organization and overseas accounts and investments; creation of banks and business with the help of insider positions) the most successful young entrepreneurs gained from privatization). Under the scheme "loans for shares" the Yeltsin regime auctioned off substantial packages of stock shares in some of its most desirable enterprises, such as energy, telecommunication, and metallurgical firms, as collateral for bank loans. They used low prices => B. Berezovsky, M. Khodorkovsky, R. Abramovich, V. Potanin, V. Vekselberg etc. • Control of the oligarchs of decision-making process, mass media etc.

Results of Yeltsin‟s politics
• poor life condition, unpopular Chechen war, privatization of the state by Yeltsin‟s family and oligarch => low level of popularity and confidence in Yeltsin, especially after 1998 financial crisis • succession crisis (Yeltsin grew suspicious that E. Primakov was gaining in strength and popularity and dismissed him in May 1999, after only eight months in office. S. Stepashin's tenure was even shorter than Primakov's. In August 1999, Yeltsin abruptly dismissed the government and named V. Putin as his candidate to head the new government. In the end of 1999 Yeltsin declared that he saw Putin as his successor as president).

Vladimir Putin

Why Putin?
V.Putin won 2000 Presidential elections and consolidated political regime in 2000s. Why has he been selected and elected as a successor? • He promised to Yeltsin to preserve consistency of policy and to guarantee the safety of Yeltsin‟s family and its property. • He belonged neither to communist no to “liberals”, Yeltsin‟s family and oligarchs. • He demonstrated his sternness and resolution (days after Yeltsin named Putin as a candidate for prime minister, Chechen forces engaged the Russian army in Dagestan. In the next month, several hundred people died in appartment building blown up in Moscow and other cities, bombings Russian authorities attributed to Chechen rebels. In response, the Russian army entered Chechnya in late September 1999, starting the Second Chechen War. The Russian public at the time, angry over the terrorist attacks, widely supported the war. The support translated into growing popularity for Putin, who had taken decisive action in Chechnya).

Presidential election, 2000
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Vladimir Putin Gennadi Zuganov Grigori Yavlinski Aman Tuleev Vladimir Zhirinovaski

39 740 467 21 928 468 4 351 450 2 217 364 2 026 509

52,99 29,24 5,80 2,95 2,70

7. 8.

Konstantin Titov
Ella Pamfilova Stanislav Govorukhin

1 107 269
758 967 328 723

1,01 0,44

10. 11.

Yuri Skuratov
Alexei Podberezkin Umar Dzhabrailov

319 189
98 177 78 498 1 414 673

0,13 0,10 1,88

Against all

Nord-Ost siege (2002) and Beslan school hostage crisis (2004)

• privatized and weak state with underdeveloped institutions, highly important personal connections and privatized judicial sphere; • reproduction of tradition of domination of one political actor • liberalization and democratization did not entail democratic regime (hybrid regime); Events of 1991 and 1993 were “critical juncture” when there were opportunities to overcome imperial legacy. The institutional choice of Yeltsin hinder state-building and democratization and promote the consolidation of Putin‟s regime.