The by the government. Lenin’s government made many

The Fall of Communism in Russia
The Reasons for the fall of Socialism/Communism and the Troubles
of Starting the New Democratic System in the Russian Federation “Let’s
not talk about Communism. Communism was just an idea, just pie in the
sky.” Boris Yeltsin (b. 1931), Russian politician, president. Remark
during a visit to the U.S. Quoted in: Independent (London, 13 Sept.
The fall of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union was more
than a political event. The powerful bond between economics and
politics that was the integral characteristic of the state socialist
system created a situation that was unique for the successor states of
the Soviet Union. The Communist regime was so ingrain in every aspect
of Soviet life that the Russian people were left with little
democratic tradition. Russia faces the seemingly impracticable task of
economic liberalization and democratization. This is combined with the
fact that the new administration must address human rights issues,
such as living conditions and the supply of staple goods in this new
form of administration makes the prospect of a full democratic switch
seemingly impossible.

To fully underezd the scope of the transference of governing
power in the Russian Federation, one must first look at the old
Socialist/Communist regime, to see the circumezces under which it
fell gives a good view of why this transference is almost impossible.

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In the beginning Communism seemed to the people of Russia as a
utopian ideal. The promise of the elimination of classes, of
guaranteed employment , “The creation of a comprehensive social
security and welfare system for all citizens that would end the
misery of workers once and for all.” Lenin’s own interpretation of the
Marxian critique was that to achieve Communism there would first have
to be a socialist dictatorship to first suppress any dissent or
protest. Through coercive tactics this new government seized power and
in 1917 Lenin came to power. Under his “rule” the Soviet Union
underwent radical changes in it’s economic doctrines adopting a mixed
economy which was termed the New Economic Policy also referred to as
NEP, this economy called for some private ownership of the means of
production, but the majority of industry was made property of the
people, which meant the majority of the means of production was
controlled by the government. Lenin’s government made many
achievements. It ended a long civil war against the remnants of the
old Czarist military system and established institutions in
government. During this period, and in fact throughout the majority of
the Communist rule, censorship and the subordination of interest
groups such as trade unions was imposed to stop dissension and
increase conformity to the new governments policies.

Lenin died in 1924, and was quickly followed by Joseph Stalin as
head of the Soviet Communist Party, the oppressive reforms started by
Lenin were continued and at length became completely totalitarian.
Stalin became the most powerful man in Russia. He controlled to bulk
of all the political power and with that he started a ruthless
campaign of removing all opposition to the Communist rule. During this
period called the “Great Purge” Stalin systemically executed anyone
who stood in his path. Millions of people were arrested and either
harassed or killed. The economic status of the Soviet Union was yet
again changed and the entire system became controlled by the
government. All private ownership ended. A mass program of
industrialization was commenced, and the strength of the Soviet
Military was subeztially increased. The citizens during this period
endured great hardship. Agricultural production output diminished
resulting in food shortages, these shortages were enha! nce by the
mass exportation of food, this was done to pay for industrial imports.
Stalin also put the production of what he called production goods such
as manufacturing machinery over basic consumer goods such as clothes
and other staples. During this period the Second World War broke out
and drained most of what was left of the already impoverished state.
Yet after the war national unity was strengthened as well is the
Soviet military machine. The Soviet Union became a super power, the
U.S. being the only country more powerful than it.
After the death of Stalin in 1953 Nikita Khrushchev became First
Secretary of the Communist party. Stalin’s death marked the end of
supreme power for the head of the party, and Khrushchev condemned
Stalin’s actions as unnecessary and harmful to the process of moving
the Socialist government to it’s goal of pure Communism. During this
period the public was given a say in the government, albeit an
extremely minor one, and the judicial system eased it’s aggressiveness
allowing a defendant a better chance of defending themselves.
Khrushchev concerned himself with bettering the plight of the
individual, attempting to increase the supply of food and making goods
such as home appliances, making automobiles somewhat available, and
providing more housing. A new policy of efficiency and quality control
was brought in. Leadership was somewhat decentralized to allow common
managers and directors more power to run their production units.
Although Krushchev started a process of slight reform he was dismissed
due to in part a massive shortage of grain and dairy products, and the
fact that he had started to seize more power and “His efforts to
streamline party organizations produced chaos and conflict among party
administrators.” He was also blamed for the Russia “defeat” during the
Cuban Missile Crisis, and of not accomplishing anything toward the
reunification of Germany under East German rule. After the ousting of
Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev became the Soviet Communist Party
Secretary General in October of 1964. Under his administration the
majority of the decentralization of power was destroyed bringing a
centralized form of control back into effect. Krushchev’s denouncing
of Stalin’s policies was criticized and slowly some of Stalin’s
political disciplinary policies were restored. Stalin was named a war
hero. There began an outright attack on dissidents from the literary
and scientific community. During this time there was an inefficient
use land, labour and resources which resulted in an economic
slackening. In this time what was supposed to ultimately be a
classless society became classed as bureaucrats were paid for loyalty
with material wealth, allowing them a better ezdard of living,
because of this public interests were placed secondary to personal
gain. The 1980’s saw a dramatic drop in the Soviet citizens already
impoverished ezdard of living. This caused strikes and public outcry
against the administration which threatened the stability of the
Soviet Union. The people were angry at the fact that the Communist
Party had not lived up to what it had promised which was in return for
their obedience they would receive employment, free health care, and a
level of comfort. March 1985 marks a turning point in the Communist
rule of Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev is elevated to the position of
General Secretary. He is aware of the current social upheaval
occurring and that change must occur if Communism is to survive. He
begins a program called “Perestroika” which was the organizational
restructuring of the Soviet economy and government apparatus.
Gorbachev discovers that this change will depend on other changes,
among others a more tolerant and open political environment , more
public influence over governmental and military institutions. This
called for major long term change of the political system. He
began a policy called “Glasnost” which emphasized openness with regard
to discussion of social problems and shortcomings.

The purpose of these reforms was to elevate the Soviet ezdard
of living in order to reaffirm the citizenry’s loyalties to the
Communist party and to enable the rebirth of the Soviet economy and
ideal. State control was lo! osened and individual initiative
encouraged. He expanded the authority of the Soviet presidency and
transferred power from the Communist party to popularly elected
legislatures in the union republics. In international affairs, he
withdrew Soviet troops from Afghaniez, normalized relations with
China, signed a series of arms control agreements with U.S. Presidents
Ronald Reagan and George Bush. During this period of change strong
Nationalistic opinion started in the republics of the Soviet Union
causing major upheaval. In 1991, as the Soviet economy deteriorated,
Gorbachev faced competing pressures from hard-line Communists,
from free-market reformers, and from nationalists and secessionists
seeking independence for their republics. The hard-liners, who
included many top government officials, staged a coup in August,
placing Gorbachev under house arrest, but within three days the
reformers had restored Gorbachev to power. He immediately resigned as
Communist party general se! cretary, suspended party activities, and
placed reformers in charge of the military and KGB. After allowing
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to become independent republics.
Nationalist forces became stronger in the republics as the year went
on. The USSR voted itself out of existence in December 1991, and
Gorbachev resigned his position as president of the USSR. Under the
Communist Regime there were immense social problems. In the period
before Gorbachev all religion was dismissed. Although the citizens
were still allowed to practice their religion it was made extremely
difficult for them by the government and the official attitude towards
religion was that it was a relic of the past and Atheism was
encouraged. There was a subeztial amount of alcoholism mostly due to
the living and working conditions. There was also a subeztial amount
of crime. There was extreme discrimination against women. There …..was a
strong sexist attitude and women found it hard to find decent
employment, and most women were expected to also take care of
household duties as well. Women were also very scarce in government.
Relations among the different ethic grouped which lived within
the Soviet Union were very tense and sometimes openly hostile.

The fact that the Russian language was the language in which all
political transactions had to occur in and it was encouraged to
be learnt, with the purpose of trying to make a single Soviet culture
made this tension even stronger. The education system in the Soviet
Union also caused tension because it was set up around a motive to
teach students to be obedient to the Communist Party and to be Atheist
among other things. Also students were assigned jobs when they
graduated and this caused considerable stress on them because they had
to take the job assigned to them, and if it was an undesirable one it
could ruin their chances for advancement in the future. This was such
a tense issue that graduates were sometimes prone to commit suicide.
The health care system was under funded. Most hospitals were under
staffed and the equipment was outdated, medical supplies were also
scarce. This lead to the gradual decrease of the life expectancy of a
citizen. Poor ezdards of sanitation and public hygiene lead to an
increased annual death rate and a drop in the birth rate. All of these
factors in a way, lead to the disintegration of the Communist Regime,
taking into account all of the social problems and the years of
mismanagement of the countries resources, we can see why the economy
slowed and citizen support for the government diminished.
Boris Yeltsin was named President of Russia by the Russian
Republic’s Supreme Soviet in 1990. He immediately resigned from
the Communist party and declared Russia’s independence. In 1991 he
became the first President of the Russian Republic by popular vote. He
helped found the Commonwealth of Independent States, which ended any
attempts to preserve the USSR. He moved to end state control of the
economy, privatized most industries and among other things outlawed
the Communist Party.
Beginning in 1992 the conflict between Yeltsin and his political
opponents intensified. Yeltsin suffered a series of defeats at the
hands of the Russian Constitutional Court, chaired by Valeriy Zorkin.
The court overturned Yeltsin’s decree creating a Russian ministry of
security and internal affairs and lifted portions of Yeltsin’s ban on
the Soviet Communist party. In 1993 the court repealed his ban on the
National Salvation Front, a communist-nationalist organization that
had called for Yeltsin’s removal. In 1993 Yeltsin announced on
television that he had issued a decree declaring special presidential
rule. But when the decree was published there was no mention of
special presidential powers. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy sharply
criticized Yeltsin for issuing the decree and for using a referendum
to gain popular approval of reform policies. Yeltsin asked Rutskoy to
resign as vice president, and when Rutskoy refused, Yeltsin removed
Rutskoy’s powers of office, despite p! rotests by the Supreme Soviet.
Yeltsin won the support of the majority of Russian voters who
participated in the April 1993 referendum, but the referendum did
little to end his power struggle with parliament. In September,
Yeltsin attempted to break the power deadlock by dissolving parliament
and calling for new parliamentary elections. “In turn, parliament
voted to impeach Yeltsin and swore in Rutskoy as acting president. Led
by Rutskoy and chairman of the Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov,
hundreds of legislators and anti-Yeltsin demonstrators occupied the
parliament building in Moscow. On September 28 Yeltsin ordered troops
to barricade the parliament building, and in the following week
security forces, acting in support of Yeltsin, clashed with
pro-parliamentary demonstrators, who were mainly hard-line Communists
and nationalists. On October 4 Rutskoy and Khasbulatov surrendered. In
February 1994 they were granted amnesty by the lower house of
parliament, despite Yeltsin’s opposition.” In December 1994 Yeltsin
sent Russian military forces into the region of Chechnya, which had
declared its independence from Russia in 1991. Since that time Russia
had made only minor military efforts to reclaim Chechnya. This use
of military force is an example of the fact that true democracy can
not exist in Russia, these tactics are Soviet-era coercive measures.
During the bombing of Grozny Russian-speaking suffered as much as the
natives. This was demonstrated the worst of the Yeltsin Regime.
Yeltsin was using the war to expand his political base and appear as a
strong leader. Over 20,000 civilians died during this conflict, which
in a sense achieved nothing.
The Russian economy has been put through sweeping reforms which
have only proved to through it into disarray. This mainly due to the
fact that because the Soviet government has no experience in
Democratic/Capitalist styles of governing, and the 70 plus years of
Communist rule has left a huge dent in the Russian economy. The old
style of government has left behind a legacy of corruption, price
distortions, inefficient public industries and financial instability.
This, combined with the need for much more extensive political reform
makes this task almost impossible. The process of democratization of
Russia occurred to quickly. This was done in the hopes that the fast
privatization of industry would hinder any chance of re-nationalizing
the economy, and basically forcing this new change. At the same time
privatization has contributed greatly to the popular belief that this
new system is unjust. State assets were distributed disproportionately
to insiders, to people willin! g to circumvent the law, and in
some case to criminals. Official corruption and the lack of enforced
laws and clearly defined property laws has lead to public dissension.
One of Yeltsin’s greatest mistakes was moving economic reform ahead so
quickly while not addressing the need for immense political reform at
the same time.
The Russian economy is in disarray, and the ezdard of living
for the average citizen is as low if not lower than during the
Communist rule. This had bred many social problems which, in effect,
mirror those of the Communist administration. Religious and ethnic
animosity and the lack of proper education in this new political and
economic system has lead to public discontent and a rise in the
alcoholism problem. There has been recent improvements in the
distribution of wealth. There have been improvements in the
privatization process, especially in the building sector, this could
bring the expansion of small-scale property ownership, which is also
an important step towards private ownership. There is also a stronger
entrepreneurial spirit among lower class society. Yet with the lack of
any experience in private proprietorship and private business
practices the population of the Russian Federation is still not taking
to the new system. For too many years it was imprinted on them that
everything must be publicly owned. Much of this can to attributed to
the Communist tradition of not communicating with the public, which is
a core part of any democratic system, the public participation and
communication in and with government. With the apparent lack of public
participation in government, and in turn the lack of communication by
the government with the people we can see that the Russian Federation
is far from being democratic. The government acted too quickly in it’s
economic reforms with not enough practical experience in
Democratic/Capitalistic to pull it off. We saw that some of the major
contributing factors in the fall of communism was the dissension of
the citizens due to the fact that the government did not live up to
it’s promise of a better life and the failure of the government to
properly deal with social problems. The other factors were economic,
many of which we can see are apparent in the new system. In it’s
current situation we are seeing the same factors. Unless these
problems are addressed quickly and resolved effectively we will see
the decline of yet another Russian governmental system. On looking at
the past we can see that the Russian public must overcome many hurdles
in order for them to truly embrace Democracy and enjoy the promises of
a better life that it has made. The government must promote the
education of it’s citizens and communicate more efficiently with them.
There is a long road ahead for the Russian Federation in this enormous
task, and at this time it almost seems impossible.

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