Russia in the Early 1990’s Part 3

Particularly serious was the conflict (made clear by the non-renewal, in the spring of 1993, of the extraordinary powers attributed to El´cin in November 1991) which soon opened up between El´cin and the majority of Parliament on problems relating to economic policy and to the request for greater parliamentary control over the work of the executive. Gradually a very hard confrontation emerged between the president on the one hand, and the vice president of the Federation A. Ruckoj and the president of Parliament Russia Chasbulatov on the other. The confrontation ended in October 1993 with the bloody assault of the military forces loyal to El´cin on the ‘White House’ and the surrender of the deputies who had barricaded themselves there by launching proclamations of revolt to the armed forces, in response to the decree of dissolution of Parliament issued by El´cin. In fact, only two years after the collapse of the USSR, with the popular referendum and the political elections of 12 December 1993, the Russia was able to adopt its first Constitution assuming the formula of a federative presidential republic, with the assignment to the president of even greater powers over the parliament and the government, and was able to elect its first parliament (Duma).

According to, the result of the political elections, which saw the success of the liberal-democratic party (nationalist and chauvinist) of V. Žirinovskij (24, 22 %) and of the communist party of G. Zjuganov (12, 35 %), however, determined the reopening of the conflict between the president – and the government of the president, since December 1992entrusted to V. Černomyrdin – and the Parliament. Nor was it just a confrontation on an institutional level. The success of the opposition, especially among young people and among the workers of the large state-owned companies of the military-industrial complex, threatened, as well as by the collapse of the economic system, by the reforms initiated or proposed, showed that in large areas of the country – but not in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the lists in favor of the new course were clearly affirmed – the new leaders were viewed with hostility and with concern for the future. The political skill of El´cin – which he inserted into the government structure, from which some reformist ministers were removed, a certain number of men not disliked by the Communist opposition – and the shrewd use, always by El´cin, of the presidential prerogatives provided for by a Constitutional Charter which, as we have said, had greatly reduced the power of Parliament, however, limited the scope and gravity of the conflict itself. And this even if the president had to deal (as well as with the majority of the Duma) with the divisions that took place within the political forces – those headed by E. Gajdar (Choice of Russia,15, 51 %), G.Javlinskij (Yabloko, 7, 83 %), N. Travkin (Democratic Party, 5, 52 %) as well as to the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, G. and A. Popov Sobčak – that they had argued in the first phase.

An important role certainly played from the first moment the support granted to Yel´cin and his politics by the United States and by Western countries in general, as well as – albeit through acts of taxation that soon had to prove at the same time inadequate and above all poorly controlled and that the opposition forces could use in their battle – from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. On the Asian side, while fruitful agreements, first for the normalization of the situation along the borders and then for extensive economic and commercial exchanges, were reached with China, it turned out to be more difficult to establish meaningful agreements with Japan, especially for Moscow’s refusal to accept the discussion on the question of the Kuril Islands claimed by Tokyo.

Without much shock was reached in December 1995, a new general election that saw close to a net decline of Zhirinovsky (11, 06 %), a significant increase of votes by the communist Zyuganov Party (22, 31 %), a political formation that, at the beginning of the ‘conservative’ wing of the CPSU, that is, of the forces within the party that had opposed Gorbachev going so far as to organize the failed coup of August 1991, was now finding new and growing consensus, also by shaking and adopting nationalist (‘the Russian idea’) and nostalgic slogans, in the social areas most affected by Yel´cin’s reforms. The elections marked in particular the clear defeat, together with the other forces of the democratic center which presented themselves divided, of Our home Russia (9.89 %), the political formation created by Černomyrdin which had been presented, albeit informally, as the ‘ party of the president ‘. It is difficult to establish whether, and to what extent, the defeat of Yel´cin and of the political forces born together with the new Russian state can be attributed to the consequences of the real war unleashed, but without luck, by Yel´cin in December 1994 against Chechnya, the Caucasian republic which, with General Dž. Dudaev, had already proclaimed itself independent in 1991. In reality, however, more than against the pacifist thrusts, El´cin had to deal with the conflicting nationalistic thrusts that the bloody conflict and the succession of failures of the Russian forces engaged in the field fueled. In particular those ‘great Russians’ who with Žirinovskij and, in terms of a ‘return to the USSR’, with Zjuganov, hoped for the return to the Russian Empire on the one hand and, on the other, those who in various forms and points in the country were calling for detachment from Moscow.

Russia in the Early 1990's 3

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