300 words or more
Discussion Subject: Here you will have the chance to share your impressions of the August Coup and the destruction of the Soviet Union.
1.Watch this video: Collapse of the Soviet Union
2. Read the lecture notes in this module
3. In your first post, report on your impressions on what you learned and include your source website strings and pictures. Try to post your report by Friday evening. To post pictures, open up the edit ribbon to show 3 rows. Find the picture icon and click this. Follow the directions to post your picture.
Here you will find all of the lecture notes:
PERESTROIKA, GLASNOST, AND GORBACHEV
What I want you to know: Mikhail Gorbachev is remembered in Soviet history as the man that nailed the first nail in the coffin of Soviet Socialism. His ideas for reform for the Soviet Union’s economy and society were radical in the mid ‘80’s. He felt that he could somehow improve the Soviet Union and revive it’s ailing economy. He had no idea that what he started would end the Soviet Union instead of save it.
I. Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev
A. Born March 2, 1931 in Privolnye in Southern Russia
B. Became a Party Boss in the Stavropol krai and by 1985 had become General Secretary of the CPSU
C. 1986, influenced by Yuri Andropov’s attempts at reform, Gorbachev began his period of political openness (Glasnost’) and economic “Perestroika” (restructuring) intended to modernize the USSR and “democratization” of the Soviet Government
D. 1990: Awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his reform efforts.
E. 1991: Removed from office in the August Coup and replaced by Boris Yeltsin.
F. Today, Gorbachev gives many speeches worldwide and is very busy with humanitarian groups. He founded the Green Cross an international organization that is concerned about preserving the Earth’s environment. He still lives in Moscow.
G. Richard Nixon suggested that Gorbachev become Time’s “Man of the Century” said this of him:
“He has decided that he would risk his power in order to save his reforms, rather than risk his reforms to save his power.”
A. 1986 Gorbachev un-cuffed the press and no longer censored & punished journalists for openly criticizing the government, economy, political officials.
B. Dissidents were released from prison. Andrei Sakharov, a prominent Physicist who was arrested on the streets of Moscow and deported to Gorky for protesting the Soviet’s involvement in Afghanistan, was realeased in 1986.
C. Banned literature, art, music was legalized again. Solzhenitsen’s “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, Akhamatova, Pasternak. Now the Soviets could again enjoy the fruits of their famous artists.
D. Peaceful protests were allowed in the streets. (Tatars in Red Square).
E. Religion became tolerated again and believers were no longer persecuted.
F. History, crimes, mistakes of the Government were revealed. (Stalin, nuclear testing, accidents) So much was being revealed that in 1988, the school history exams were canceled because the Soviet people were only then learning the “real” history.
G. Chernobyl accident became a watershed. Four days went by before the Soviets admitted to their neighbors that there had been an accident. After that, the Soviets came clean and kept the rest of the world informed about it.
The facts were coming out and the Soviets were demanding more and more. The press began openly printing, with names, negative information re: Govt. etc.
III. PERESTROIKA= “RESTRUCTURING” Gorbachev wanted to revive the sagging Soviet rate of industrial and agricultural output with a two-pronged approach:
1. Psychological: needed to improve worker discipline.
a. Number one problem: Alcoholism Began a major crackdown on alcohol. The sale of alcohol was banned before 2. The number of outlets sharply curtailed.
b. Personally visited towns/factories urging people to work harder, warning that if they did not do better their country would suffer. Gorbachev appeared in remote areas where no Soviet leader or Tsar had ever visited.
2. Economic Reform: Goal diminished role of administrative decision making.
a. Sharply curtailed role of GOSPLAN
b. Transferred economic decision making to the enterprise
-had to self-finance & make a profit a failure=bankruptcy
-could choose what they would produce
-could independently import/export without Ministry of Foreign Trade.
-For greater loyalty in the workplace, workers could now elect managers and foremen by secret ballot.
-Small private business was allowed again.
-Joint-ventures with right to have foreign ownership (49% max.). President and CEO had to be Soviet citizens.
Cooperatives, kiosks, open-markets boomed, services, foreign consumer-goods appeared.
Ex: JV’s McDonalds & Pizza Hut
1. Stigma on the financially successful
2. If industries sell product at “market price”, who could afford it?
*The immediate cause for the fall of Soviet Union.
A. 1989: Congress of Peoples’ Deputies (a new representative organ) was created and filled by competitive elections. 2/3 via local elections in territorial constituencies. 1/3 Reps of “public organizations”. Allowed representatives from the CPSU but also high-caliber deputies from creative & scientific unions. Example: Academy of Sciences (Andrei Sakharov)
1. Inner body-smaller “Supreme Soviet” met constantly.
*Surprise! Real debate took place and political leaders could be called to account for actions. BIG!!!!
*Beginnings of new political coalitions and parties. Although, 87.8% of first deputies were members of the CPSU.
B. 1990-Each republic was allowed to elect and set-up own parliaments.
C. Gorbachev became the first elected president in 1990. Elected by Congress of People’s deputies. Next election was to be nationwide and open.
D. Boris N. Yeltsin became the first directly elected President of Russia in June 1991
*Ended badly for Gorbachev. While on holiday in the Crimea, the hard-line Soviet leaders barricaded themselves in the White House and attempted to take over the Soviet Union again and turn-back all reforms in August 1991. Yeltsin eventually overthrew them and Gorbachev resigned.
YELTSIN AND THE COUP
THE PLAYERS IN THE COUP
I. THE DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY:
Mikhail Gorbachev: President of USSR/General Secretary of CPS Under house-arrest in Foros.
Boris Yeltsin: President of the Russian Federation/Leader of the Defenders of Democracy. In Moscow
The President’s Men:
Alexander Rutskoi: V.P. Russia
Konstantin Kobets: Defense Minister of Russia
Alexander Korzhakov: Yeltsin’s chief bodyguard
Sergei Kovalyov: Deputy
Boris Nemtsov: Deputy
Sergei Yevdikimov: Commander of tanks in Tamansky
100,000+ Moscow patriots
II. THE PLOTTERS/MEMBERS OF THE STATE COMMITTEE FOR THE EMERGENCY:
Gennadi Kryuchkov: KGB Chairman/Leader
Dmitri Yazov: Defense Minister USSR
Oleg Shenin: Communist Party Secretary
Oleg Baklanov: Politburo Member; defense industry chief
Valentin Pavlov: Prime Minister
Victor Boldin: Gorbachev’s Chief of Staff
Gennadi Yanaev: Soviet V.P.
Boris Pugo: Interior Minstry
Anatoli Lukyanov: Chairman of Supreme Soviet; Gorbachev’s bestfriend.
BORIS YELTSIN CHRONOLOGY
December 1985 Yeltsin elected first secretary of the Moscow city party committee.
February 1986 Yeltsin elected candidate member of the politburo.
October 1987 Yeltsin criticizes perestroika and Gorbachev’s rule at a central committee plenum and falls from favor.
November 1987 Yeltsin severely censured and removed as first secretary of Moscow.
February 1988 Yeltsin removed from politburo and appointed first deputy chairman of State Construction Trust. Member of Central Committee of the Party
March 1989 Yeltsin elected by Moscow to the USSR Congress of People’s Deputies, the Soviet legislature.
March 1990 Yeltsin elected by Sverdlovsk as deputy to the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies, the national legislature of the Republic of Russia.
May 1990 Yeltsin elected chairman (speaker) of the Russian Supreme Soviet (standing parliament).
June 1990 Russian Congress adopts a Declaration on the Sovereignty of Russia.
July 1990 Yeltsin quits the Communist party at its 28th Congress.
August 1990 500-Day Program for economic reform is drafted but later rejected by Gorbachev.
January 1991 Soviet troops seize the Vilnius television station, killing fourteen. Yeltsin flies to Tallinn and signs a Treaty of cooperation with Baltic republics.
February 1991 Yeltsin calls on television for Gorbachev’s resignation.
March 1991 Popular referendum shows majority support for preservation of a renewed Soviet Union but also for popular election of a Russian president.
April 1991 Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and heads of eight other Union republics sign the Novo-Ogaryova Agrova, which initiates negotiations to replace the Soviet Union with a loose confederation.
June 1991 Yeltsin elected president (and Alexander Rutskoi VP) of Russia in a landslide.
August 1991 Reactionary security ministers and their colleagues attempt to depose Gorbachev and take power. Yeltsin leads the resistance to the coup from the Russian White House.
October 1991 Yeltsin becomes prime minister of new Russian government and delegates economic reform. Gennady Burbulis and Yegor Gaidar. Supreme Soviet grants Yeltsin extraordinary powers of Rule by decree.
November 1991 Yeltsin issues a decree banning the Communist party of the Soviet Union.
December 1991 Yeltsin and leaders of Belarus and Ukraine sign the Beloverzshy Agreement, effectively dissolving the Soviet Union and creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place.
December 1991 Gorbachev resigns and hands over the “nuclear button” and the general secretary’s secret archives to Yeltsin. At the Kremlin, the Soviet flag is replaced by the Russian flag.
March 1993 Yeltsin drafts decree on emergency rule but constitutional court declares it unconstitutional.
March 1993 A parliamentary motion to impeach Yeltsin narrowly fails to receive the necessary majority.
April 1993 Yeltsin receives a clear vote of confidence for himself and his reform policies in a national referendum.
September 1993 Yeltsin decrees the dissolution of Russian parliament, but rebel deputies led by Rutskoi and Speaker Khasbulatov refuse to leave the White House.
October 1993 Yeltsin orders security ministries to suppress the rebellion of the parliament and its supporters. The official death toll after the storming of the White House is more than a hundred.
December 1993 Elections are held for the new parliament, called the Federal Assembly, consisting of the State Duma and Council of Federation, Gaidar’s party, Russia’s Choice, does poorly, and extrimist Vladimir Zhirinovsky gains a quarter of the vote. A new Russian Constitution is approved.
BORIS YELTSIN 1991-1999
What I want you to know: A man with a strong personality but no experience with democracy is good to lead a revolution but dangerous a builder of democratic institutions.
A. Vacuum at the Political Center
1. KGB: 5 Generals-including Kryuchkov in prison, 29 to-ranking officers fired, 13 officially admonished.
2. Military: Defense Minister Dimitry Yazov & top General Valantin Varreninikov=prison. 8 deputy Defense Ministers, 7 Commanders of Military Districts of the Army and Navy are sacked.
3. CPSU: Deeply compromised by supporting coup. Majority of Secretariat, Central Committee, 2/3 of regional party organizations, 70% of local Soviets supported the State Committee of the State of Emergency.
*Since the leadership of the S.U. had been decapitated. The former Soviet Republics turned to their own governments for leadership and the S.U. broke apart within 4 months.
-All Republics declared independence.
-All Government bodies of SU suspended
-Former power of SU ended-up in the Russian Republic.
B. Gorbachev & Yeltsin: The Final Act
1. Gorbachev finally accepted defeat on Dec 25, 1991.
2. Y & G met 8 times in the meanwhile.
a. Yeltsin insisted that G not make any decisions without his consent.
*G just could not change his ways. He did not understand that everything was different now.
3. A transitional Government was created giving the powers of the USSR Congress of People’s Deputies to a Council of Heads of State. A body made up of the President of the USSR and the leaders of the Union Republics.
4. Yeltsin recognized that the Union of Sovereign States would never come together as planned and began working on an alternative plan. The Beloveshky Agreement of December 1991 created the CIS and effectively removed Gorbachev from power.
5. Recognizing defeat, G submitted his compensation package that included a healthy pension indexed to inflation, a presidential apartment, dacha, car and driver, and a foundation ( A large, fully-equipped building) in the center of Moscow. Yeltsin met all his demands.
*Dec 24, 1991, Gorbachev passed the “ Nuclear Button” to Yeltsin and it was over: the Soviet Union was dead.
II. The First Russian Republic
. A. Bad Choices from the Beginning
1. Yeltsin wanted to have continuity in his new government.
*He believed that though new, young, bold people were needed, he felt it was possible to use some of the work-experienced executives, organizers, and leaders to stay in the Gov’t.
2. His focus was on improving the economy quickly; not restructuring the government.
3. He decided to keep the parliamentary system that Gorbachev had chosen. Reelections for the legislature would wait. (Fatal mistake!)
4. He also kept the state structure of the Soviet Union in place. Said in his memoirs: “It would have been disastrous to destroy the Government administration of such a large state.”
B. Dyarchy or Dual-Power
1. Gorbachev had chosen not to revise the Soviet Constitution of 1978 and simply grafted the strong executive presidency onto the two-tiered parliamentary system.
a. This led to a constant and on-going power struggle between the executive and legislative branches.
*Big Problem: Parliament enjoyed extensive powers under the existing Constitution and dominated by conservative groups, was able to block the executive’s ideas about constitutional reform and to undermine the governments’ economic reform program.
2. Yeltsin and the Russian Federation adapted this same system and it led to civil war by 1993.
C. Congress out of Control
1. By 1993, the congress of Peoples Deputies, using it’s power to amend the Constitution, had introduced 320 changes to the country’s Basic Law aimed at strengthening the Congress and weakening the Presidency.
2. Inexperienced with Democracy, the need to form coalitions, cooperate with other gov’t branches, and the need to be responsible to the people they represent, Yeltsin and Parliament (under the leadership of Ruslan Khasbulatov) began a bitter battle to the end.
3. Nov/Dec 1991: Yeltsin tried to ban the Communist party but it was overturned by the Constitutional Court. Because of this, a deputy called on the Constitutional Court to remove Yeltsin for numerous infringements on the Constitution.
a. Motion failed but the idea kept coming up.
4. To try to appease the Congress, Yeltsin replaced Egor Gaidar (a strong economic reformer and acting Prime Minister) for a centrist candidate, Victor Chernomyrdin.
5. March ’93-Congress stripped Yeltsin of his right of emergency powers that allowed him to issue decree having equal force with laws adapted by Parliament (given in Nov 1991).
6. April ’93: Yeltsin (fed-up with Congress) decided to appeal to the Russian public for a vote of confidence.
*58% expressed confidence in Y
*53% expressed confidence in the gov’t social-economic policies.
*2/3 in favor of holding early elections for a new Parliament.
D. October Civil War 1993
1. September 21st, Yeltsin decided that the Parliament needed to be dissolved, so he could start fresh. New elections Dec 12
2. Predictably, the Constitutional Court announced Yeltsin’s decree unconstitutional and offered grounds for removal
3. Sept 22, Supreme Soviet made V.P. Rutskoi acting President of Russia.
a. Rutskoi names acting defense minister and acting security minister.
4. Oct 3-Rutskoi assembled at the White House a force consisting of:
-3 battalions of Moscow reservists
-100 Spetsnaz soldiers (special forces)
-former police operatives
-volunteer detachment of Cossaks
-representatives of ultra-left communist youth group.
-a well-trained neo-nazi unit of storm-troopers.
*Mass rallies were organized by 3 pm 5-10,000 people swarmed the White House.
5. Oct 4-Yeltsin forces assaulted the White House and crushed the rebellion.
-145 people killed
1. Elections held for new Parliament in December.
2. Yeltsin becomes an increasingly paranoid, harsher, and more brutal leader. He begins to distance himself from the “ Democrats”.
*surrounds himself with trusted confidants “The Family”
*lives under special “mini-KGB” protection.
III. The Second Russian Republic
A. Parliamentary Elections Dec ‘ 93
1. Voters approved new draft Constitution that embodied a strong presidency.
2. New Duma disappointing for Yeltsin. Dominated by leftists=anti-reformers.
B. Invasion of Chechnya
1. Dec 1994-Russia invaded Chechnya to intimidate former Soviet Republics in the Caspian region and to warn off the west and it’s oil companies from working there.
*Prompted by Sept ’94 agreement. Azerbaijan signed 3 landmark offshore oil deals worth $8 billion with western oil companies.
2. At first, the invasion was popular with elite Russians who were becoming increasingly imperialist about the “near abroad”. Soon, the war and the human loss for Russians made it increasingly unpopular. It still is a big problem for Putin today.
1. Tycoons like Boris Berezovskii and other Oligarchs began manipulating Yeltsin via his daughter, Tatiana Diachenko.
=Wealthy became wealthier and all become above the law.
2. Rule of law could not or would not be established under Yeltsin.
*Rule of Law: Based on praise of rules. What we in the West live by. Rules, rather than being seen as prisons, or impediments to developing rich and supportive communities, are seen as the conditions for freedom and diversity because they limit, with the force of law, those that seek to limit others.
3. Yeltsin gets involved in various corrupt practices.
a. Eliminate economic enemy of “Family Members”:
*Vladimir Gusinskii, media mogul and banking magnate, is picked for a “hit” by Yeltsin’s “Presidential Security Service”. Dec. 2, 1994, narrowly escaping death, Gusinskii flees abroad for safety.
b. Restoration of Chechnya
*Secret Decree No 86: Earmarked $6.6 billion from federal budget to reconstruct Chechnya. It never made it there. According to the Russian press, it ended-up lining the pockets of Yeltsin and friends.
4. June ’96: Presidential Elections. Yeltsin is elected for a second term by narrowly defeating Communist Party leader Gennadi Zhuganov.
D. Soft State
1. Absence of rule of law and legal culture.
Thomas Remington, a Political Scientist described Yeltsin’s Russia as:
“Yeltsin’s Russia today displays all the pathologies of a soft state: the government cannot ensure policy is carried out, or even guarantee the timely payment of wages to employees; announcements about new state agencies and progress are made and soon forgotten, and a crisis in law enforcement is manifested by the enormous rise in organized crime, deep government corruption, and lax fiscal control.”
2. The Russian citizens saw Yeltsin’s soft state as failing to provide basic protection according to a poll conducted in early 1999.
3. In a nationwide poll in 1999. Answer to the question: Is the country heading in the right direction?
*6% said yes
*71% said wrong direction
*13% said not moving at all
IV. What went Right?
A. Glasnost continued
B. Democratic Elections: state and local dumas, regional Governors=healthy decentralization of control
C. Rise in strong, pro-democracy reform parties. Ex: Yabloko, United Russia
*Against this background, Vladimir Putin became Yeltsin’s candidate for June 2000 elections. Yeltsin resigned early (Dec 1999) and Putin won election March 2000.
Excerpt from: The Russian Way; Zita Dabars and Lillia Vokhmina, 2nd Edition. Pp 59-64.
POLITICS & PARTIES
The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution brought the ommunist Party to preeminence. Up until 1991 it was the only legal political party in the Soviet Union. Membership in the Communist Party was considered and honor and a privilege. Those desiring to join the Communist Party generally became members of the Komsomol (Young Communists group). They were expected to lead a life of commitment to party goals and service to society. Recommendations for membership and support from three current Communist Party members were required. Communist Party membership varied from 5 to 10 percent of the population.
Being a member of the Communist Party was a great help in one’s career. Managers of factories, principals of high schools, and chairs of university departments, as well as people in higher positions, were all expected to be Party members. However, since the Communist Party was a party of proletariat, care was always taken to assure that a significant portion of the members were workers.
Since there was only one party in the Soviet Union, elections consisted not of tow people competing against each other, but of the population voting for one name on the ballot. That person had been nominated by the Communist Party committee and then presented as a candidate by trade unions and workers’ organizations. Usually, members of these organizations had already earlier approved the nomination.
On the day of voting, the whole population was expected to participate in the elections. Volunteers checked to see who had not voted toward closing time and madder rounds encouraging and cajoling the public to vote. Indeed, while the Communist Party was in power, at least according to official statistics, over 99% of the population voted.
Prior to Mikhail Gorbachev’s time, the government and the Communist Party functioned as one. Gorbachev’s perestroika in the mid-1980’s, Pamyat, a group with All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments, attracted public attention because of its anti-Semitic, nationalist orientation. After Chernobyl, ecologically and environmentally minded groups, known as Greens, began to campaign on issues such as pollution and the presence of nuclear power stations in municipal areas. Another group, Memorial, strove to rehabilitate the victims of Stalinism and to raise funds for a memorial in their honor.
It was in 1989 that the first contested elections in the Soviet Union in over 70 years took place. Gorbachev decided that the seats for the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Soviet Union should have competing candidates. For the first time, ordinary citizens became politically involved. In the process, many challenged the Communist Party officials. The physicist Andrei Sakharov was one of the deputies elected; he played a significant role when the Congress convened in May 1989. A political transformation took place as factions mushroomed.
At the Twenty-Eighth Communist Party Congress in July, 1990, Gorbachev tried to maneuver between the right and left factions and satisfied neither. Toward the end of the Congress, Boris Yeltsin publicly announced his resignation from the communist Party. This action was repeated the following day by St. Peterburg’s Mayor Anatoly Sobchak and Moscow’s Mayor Gavriil Popov. Other important leaders soon followed suit.
The failed coup of August 1991 against Gorbachev by the hardliners signaled the end of the Communist Party as it had existed for over 75 years. The party split up into opposition factions which became separate parties. In December 1991 the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. Power passed to Boris Yeltsin. In June, 1991, he was the first person to run in nationwide elections for President of Russia. He won with 60% of the popular vote. The dramatic events of September-October 1993, when Yeltsin’s forces overwhelmed his opponents at the Communist-dominated Parliament, led to a proliferation of political parties.
In 1994 there were over 60 political parties registered with the Ministry of Justice in Russia; in 199 they numbered over 100. Parties, which some in the West would not call parties but voter blocs or political movements, are constantly changing; they mature, merge, split, or dissolve. Having no previous experience with a multiparty system, Russia is just learning how to deal with them. At this point, the parties are small and weak, and their allegiance is centered on a political leader more than a philosophy.
The parties can be divided into three groups and various subgroups. The three main groups may be called “democrats”, “communists”, and “nationalists”. The latter groups have similar philosophies and are joined in a Union of Patriotic Strength. The communist oriented parties want to see Russia become a superpower with a state-run, planned economy, following Marxist principles. Some desire the restoration of the Soviet Union, at least of its Slavic part. Some denounce the Bolshevik heritage. They invoke “socialism with a human face” and an economy that is largely state-dominated but with some small allowance for private enterprise.
Nationalist parties share a common view of Russia as a superpower, with Russians as the dominant ethnic group. They believe that Russia has its own unique destiny apart from the Western world. Their economic platforms, however, differ. Some advocate political pluralism and a mixed market economy, while others want to bring back the monarchy, orthodoxy, and a state-run economy. Nationalist parties are often backed by paramilitary structures led by former “black berets” and Afghan war veterans. In the parliamentary elections of December 1993, the misnamed Liberal Democratic Party, with Vladimir Zhirinovsky at its head, received 23 percent of the vote. Zhirinovsky has proclaimed his desire to see Russia become a colonial power and to regain the former territories of the Russian tsarist empire, including Poland, Finland and the three Baltic States, and even Alaska. At the end of the 1990’s, Zhirinovsky’s popularity fell to one-fourth of its former level. In the 2000 elections, his party received only with difficulty the 5 percent vote essential for a party’s deputies to enter the Duma.
There are about 30 democratically oriented parties. The most important of them, as represented in the Duma, are “Yabloko”, Fatherland-All Russia, and the Union of Right-Wing Forces. These parties are pro-Western in favor of a free-market economy, and represent young, progressively minded professionals, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.
The resurgence of the communist and nationalist parties and the votes that they received in the December 1993 parliamentary elections came as a shocking surprise to many who had expected the reformist parties to win. This resurgence may have been a response to economic difficulties: as inflation skyrocketed, many Russians lost faith in the reformers who were pushing for a free-market economy. National pride was also a factor, as the country lost its international clout and superpower status. The military became dissatisfied; it no longer enjoyed its preeminent position and was forced to absorb units from Eastern Europe and the former republics into already crowded quarters. The rural population from Russia’s vast countryside, traditionally conservative, saw no reason to switch and vote for the new reformist groups.
For the December 1999 parliamentary elections the Kremlin created in the fall of 1999 a pro-government party referred to as the Unity Party. It became the party to support the candidacy of Vladimir Putin for president; every prime minister before him had a similar power base. This party was formed not for ideological reasons, but to create a pro-government, pro-presidential bloc in the Duma. By supporting President Putin, the party would benefit.
One of the most important steps taken by this group was the reorganization of the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. Putin wanted to deprive regional governors of their seas, saying they should at tend to their duties in their regions. In the Yeltsin era, these governors ran their regions as personal fiefdoms and often flouted federal laws. In place federal of the democratically elected governors, the country is divided into seven federal districts, which are controlled by district governors appointed by the president. They are less powerful than the elected regional governors were, and they are responsible to the president. The central government has been strengthened, and the seats in the Federation Council are now filled by members elected by regional legislatures.
Russians hope that the new president can improve conditions in Russia, but many are wary of him, assigning to him the “dark” or “black” horse. The fact that he was a KGB operative in Dresden in then-Communist East Germany from 1984-1990 and in 1998-1999 headed this agency worries many. “Once you have been a KGB agent you continue to think like a KGB agent”, they say. Most people felt that in 2000 there was no viable alternative for president. Almost all political parties support Putin in the early 2000’s, some primarily because he is not like his predecessor, Yeltsin, who had squandered the goodwill that the Russian people felt toward him when he emerged as the hero of the new Russia in August 1991. Tired of and disenchanted with Yeltsin toward the end of his presidency, they are hoping that Putin, with his youth, decisiveness, pragmatism, and reputation for being well-organized and not scarred by corruption, will bring about a better future for the people and there will be progress and a lessening of smothering bureaucracy and corruption. Above all, Russians hope Putin will bring the war in Chechnya to an end. Some worry about his lack of support of free media, as evidenced in his battles with the gutsy Vladimir Gusinsky. Gusinsky was jailed at one point for embezzlement, but many believe that his sin, in the government’s view, was heading and independent media group that served as a center of resistance to Putin’s political machine. In April 2001, NTV was taken over by Gazprom, the magazine’s entire staff was fired, and the newspaper was shut down.
It is important to emphasize that Russia has a presidential form of government with virtually all authority vested in the president, who sits above the three branches of power: Executive (the government headed by the Prime Minister at the pleasure of the president), Legislative (the Duma, which can be disbanded by the president, and the Federation Council, which can be overruled by the Duma), and Judicial (which has no tradition of being fair and independent). With the introduction of the Federal Districts, the presidential control over the provinces got stronger, and there is speculation that the regional governors, though popularly elected, could become vulnerable to firing by the president.
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