Russia in the Early 1990’s Part 1

Russia or the Russian Federation was born as an independent state on December 25, 1991, when the last president of the USSR, M. Gorbachev, definitively left the Kremlin on which the Russian flag had replaced the Soviet one. A few weeks earlier, on 8 December 1991, the presidents of the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian republics, as founding states of the USSR as signatories to the 1922 Treaty, gathered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, had proclaimed that the Soviet Union ” as a subject of international law and as a geopolitical reality “had ceased to exist. In fact, however, already on June 22, 1990. In the midst of the process of disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Supreme Soviet of what was still the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) had proclaimed, as the other federated republics in the USSR, its own sovereignty (in fact the pre-eminence of the laws of the single republic over those of the Union).

According to, the process of disintegration of the Soviet state and the formation within it of fifteen new states, which, with the exclusion of the three Baltic republics, gave life between 8 and 21 December 1991 to the Commonwealth of Independent States ( CIS, v. in this Appendix), had undergone a sharp acceleration in August 1991following the implementation and then the failure of the coup carried out against Gorbachev, then at the head of the USSR, by his closest collaborators. In determining the defeat of the coup leaders, the role played by the Parliament of the Russian Republic and its president, B. El´cin, was decisive. He had invited the people of Moscow to reach the seat of the RSFSR Parliament, to defend it from the threat of a military attack by the coup leaders and at the same time affirm the primacy of the republican institutions over the Soviet ones. Following the success of El´cin’s initiative, and after the departure of the promoters of the failed coup d’état and the return of Gorbachev to Moscow from Crimea where he had been forcibly detained, the confrontation intensified, which ended precisely the December 25th 1991, between the president of the USSR and that of Russia.

The new State – which immediately took the formal commitment to embrace the obligations assumed by the USSR, first of all on the issues of disarmament and, with the other CIS countries, on the payment of the foreign debt – immediately obtained maximum international recognition and already on December 27 he could fill the seat that had been in the USSR at the UN Security Council. On 23 May 1992 Finally Yeltsin – that next month he would go to the US to sign with President George Bush to the Treaty Start- 1on the reduction of nuclear arsenals – he could announce that Russia would soon become the only nuclear power in the area. And this is because the other three former Soviet republics on the territories of which nuclear warheads had been placed – Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan – had signed an agreement for the transfer of the same warheads to Russian territory (in reality, however, Kazakhstan and above all Ukraine will long use the ‘nuclear card’ as a weapon of pressure against the United States and Russia). From the first moment, then, the Russia had presented itself as the guarantor of the security of the entire former Soviet area, with the exception of the territory of the three Baltic Republics, thus assuming heavy political, economic and even military commitments. especially in the points where national conflicts were taking place, namely in Moldavia (in the Transdnestr, inhabited mainly by the Russian population, the Republic of Dnestr was born, with the decisive contribution of the Russian armed forces), in Nagorno-Karabah (disputed between the Armenia and Azerbaijan), in South Ossetia (which, leaving Georgia, wanted to join North Ossetia as part of the Russian Federation), in Abkhasia (in revolt for independence from Georgia), and more within Tajikistan (where a real civil war began at that time). Moscow diplomacy tried, and not without success, to obtain from the West recognition of the particular role claimed, and in fact exercised, by the Russia towards the other CIS countries (the ‘foreign neighbor’,

The conflict that had opened with Ukraine for Crimea was particularly delicate from the start (after the Russian Parliament had declared null and void the treaty with which in 1954 Khrushchev had assigned the peninsula to Ukraine), as well as for the division of the former Soviet fleet stationed in the Black Sea and for the control of the naval base of Sevastopol. In fact, a very broad, albeit still partial, and articulated agreement between Moscow and Kiev was reached only in May 1997.

In internal politics, the first tasks that the leaders of the new state had to face in the midst of a disastrous economic and social situation – for which it became necessary to turn to Western countries with requests for aid of all kinds and especially food, so as to mitigate the danger famines – were those related to the creation of a democratic-parliamentary political system, in place of the one based on the dissolved ‘single party-state party’, and to the start of a policy of radical reform of the economic system by liquidating, or reducing minimum terms, the role of the ‘master state’. And this as regards both the ownership structure, with the launch of a general privatization policy in the sectors of industry, agriculture and distribution,

The radical measures taken by political leaders and economists close to E. Gajdar, finance minister and then (since 15 June 1992) interim prime minister, if on the one hand, accepting the requests of the IMF and the World Bank, allowed to open on the other hand, an economic system that had hitherto completely closed the way of the market and the entry into the country of foreign capital and products, on the other hand, immediately had serious consequences on an economy that was already in trouble as well as on the living conditions of the majority of the population. Hence, immediately after the liberalization of prices decided on January 2, 1992, which heavily affected wages, salaries and pensions, the start – in the almost total absence of rules and controls – of the ‘wild privatization’ which favored, together with the men of the old nomenklatura (ministers of the various productive sectors or factory managers who they now became presidents of the new boards of directors) and crowds of small, enterprising entrepreneurs, especially in cities and in the distribution sectors, including old and new mafia organizations.

Russia in the Early 1990's 1

About the author