Russia in the Early 1990’s Part 2

To cope with the social tensions and the pressure of the opposition that meanwhile was gaining strength within the republican Parliament, El´cin had removed (April 2, 1992) Gajdar from the government for some time, and sacrificed his trusted man G. Barbulis who was losing the post of vice premier. Finally, in order to give a form, or rather a popular varnish, to privatization (which had meanwhile invested the sectors of small and medium-sized companies and those of distribution, but stopped in front of large industrial companies and agriculture), to all citizens special share vouchers of the social property worth 10. 000 rubles ($ 40) each.

Despite the political and economic support accorded by Western countries and Japan (24 billion dollars according to the decision taken by the G 7 in Bonn in July 1992, the condition that the reform program were carried out with continuity and consistency) and despite the measures taken, indeed partly as a consequence of them as well as due to the weight of the situation that the new State had inherited, not only did not the hoped-for recovery of the economy occur, but there was the fall of all economic indices. The GDP declined in 1992 of 19 % over the previous year, industrial production by 18, 1 %, the farm12 %, while the inflation rate was 1353%. And this while, under the pressure of a privatization characterized by the absence of any control by the State – which left enormous space for mafia organizations whose activities in various sectors, from drug trafficking to laundering of ‘dirty’ money, they also expanded beyond borders – profound changes invested the social fabric. Expression of the new Russia thus became on the one hand the ‘new rich’ – the men and groups who often using the positions of power already held in the Soviet period had been able to connect with mafia organizations and Western economic and financial groups interested in penetrating in the post-Soviet market – and, on the other hand, all those who, at the same time they saw a lack, at least in part, the support of the egalitarian policy of the state, were excluded from the possibilities offered by the new political and economic course. At the same time, the spaces that the privatization and market introduction policy had opened, especially in the big cities, to a multitude of ‘new entrepreneurs’, assigned to the ‘second economy’ – that of undeclared work and second employment – considerable proportions, giving rise to the formation of new intermediate social groups.

However, the conflicts and tensions connected both with the ongoing process of disintegration of the old unitary state, both with the appearance on the scene of strong national and nationalist movements that required detachment from Moscow. Not only did these pressures not cease with the collapse of the USSR and the birth of the new state realities, but they continued and even intensified within the Russia as well as beyond its borders, especially where they were present – this is the case of the Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan – strong population minorities of Russian nationality. Like this,the representatives of the 21 autonomous republics present in the Russia were called to confirm their link with Moscow, the leaders of three of them (Chechnya, Tatarstan and Tuva) refused to sign the new federal treaty, opening a conflict, indeed a series of conflicts (which in the case of Chechnya, already self-proclaimed independent, led to real military confrontations) which threw a heavy mortgage on the future and on the nature of the Russian state. In order to curb the centrifugal forces – present in various cases, from St. Petersburg to the Urals, to eastern Siberia (where in 1993 fourteen elective assemblies, immediately disavowed by Moscow, had tried to create a Siberian Republic), even within the areas where the Russian population was prevalent – the central power was induced to sign gradually with some Republics (Yakutia, Tatarstan, Baškortostan, Karelia and others) a series of treaties with which they were recognized a certain number of rights, primarily concerning the ownership of the soil and subsoil and therefore natural wealth, as well as spaces of autonomy also on the issues foreign policy and foreign trade. In doing so, however, new requests were inevitably fed not only by the excluded republics but also by some provinces and territories that already enjoyed a certain autonomy,

As for the problems of the transformation of the political system, the lack of experience of democratic life of the leadership group, composed of men coming almost exclusively from the ranks of the CPSU, and in particular, according to various observers, the refusal to give life to a Constituent assembly with the task of giving the new state systems and structures suited to it, determined the opening of very serious political and social conflicts. According to, this is because, alongside the new institutions and situations born with perestroikaof Gorbačëv, fully operative but not yet legitimized – first of all the presidency with the role it had assumed with Yel´cin, the political parties born by the dozen but still lacking a constitutional basis within a civil society that was beginning to formed, but fundamentally alien to a large part of the population -, the structures of the past continued to exist on the basis of the old Constitution, only partially modified.

Russia in the Early 1990's 2

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