News

 

DATE=12/3/97

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

NUMBER=5-38279

TITLE=YEARENDER-97: RUSSIA SINCE USSR DISSOLUTION

BYLINE=FRANK RONALDS

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:



 ///// ED'S: THE USSR WAS DISSOLVED SIX YEARS AGO THIS MONTH.  

 THIS BACKGROUNDER REVIEWS THE MAJOR POLITICAL EVENTS IN RUSSIA 

    SINCE THEN; OTHER SCRIPTS WILL COVER ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL 

      DEVELOPMENTS.  MAY BE USED ANYTIME THIS MONTH. ///// 



INTRO:  SIX-YEARS AGO THE SOVIET UNION WAS EFFECTIVELY DISSOLVED.

THE GIANT RED SOVIET FLAG ATOP THE KREMLIN WAS REPLACED BY THE 

WHITE, RED AND BLUE FLAG OF PRE-REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA.  WITH A 

REVIEW OF POLITICAL EVENTS IN RUSSIA SINCE THEN, HERE IS FRANK 

RONALDS.



TEXT.  WITH THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION, MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, 

WHO HAD STARTED THE REFORM MOVEMENT, LOST HIS POSITION AND HIS 

POWER.  BUT THE KEY PROBLEM FACING MR. GORBACHEV STILL FACED 

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN: RESISTANCE TO REFORM BY THE 

NOMENKLATURA -- THE ENTRENCHED BUREAUCRACY THAT CONTROLLED 

AGRICULTURE AND THE IMMENSE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.  IT 

RETAINED A MAJORITY IN THE LEGISLATURE.  



IN DECEMBER, 1992, PARLIAMENT FORCED OUT ACTING PRIME MINISTER 

YEGOR GAIDAR, WHO HAD LAUNCHED A RADICAL MARKET REFORM.  IN HIS 

PLACE, PRESIDENT YELTSIN PROPOSED, AND PARLIAMENT APPROVED, 

VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATURAL GAS MONOPOLY 

--  GAZPROM.  CONTRARY TO EXPECTATIONS, PRIME MINISTER 

CHERNOMYRDIN CARRIED FORTH THE PRIVATIZATION OF STATE-OWNED 

COMPANIES AND ENCOURAGED THE CREATION OF ENTREPRENEURIAL 

ENTERPRISES.  BUT PRODUCTION, AND LIVING STANDARDS FOR MOST 

PEOPLE, CONTINUED TO PLUMMET.  



AS YELTSIN CHARGED IN MARCH 1993, THE LEGISLATURE, A HOLDOVER 

FROM THE COMMUNIST PAST, CONTINUED TO RESIST REFORMS PROPOSED BY 

THE GOVERNMENT.



          // 1ST YELTSIN ACT -- IN RUSSIAN AND FADE //



         IT IS QUITE CLEAR TODAY: THE ROOT OF ALL PROBLEMS LIES 

         NOT IN A CONFLICT BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE 

         BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT; NOT IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE 

         PARLIAMENT AND THE PRESIDENT.  ITS ESSENCE LIES DEEPER: 

         IN THE PROFOUND CONTRADICTION BETWEEN THE PEOPLE AND THE

         FORMER BOLSHEVIST ANTI-DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, WHICH HAD NOT 

         YET FULLY DISINTEGRATED AND WHICH IS SEEKING TODAY TO 

         RECAPTURE ITS LOST CONTROL OF RUSSIA.



                          // END ACT //



THAT FALL, A GROUP CALLING FOR OPEN REBELLION AND THE RESTORATION

OF THE SOVIET UNION SEIZED THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING.  A TWO-WEEK 

STRUGGLE ENDED WHEN TROOPS FIRED ON PARLIAMENT AND LEFT IT A 

BURNT-OUT SHELL.  THE ACTION BROUGHT MUCH CRITICISM, BUT ALSO 

SUPPORT FROM LEADERS AROUND THE WORLD.  



KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV READ OUT A MESSAGE ON

BEHALF OF SIX NATIONS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, 

PLEDGING THEIR FULL SUPPORT.



         // IST NAZARBAYEV ACT -- IN RUSSIAN AND FADE //



         ANTI-DEMOCRATIC FORCES HAVE ATTEMPTED TO CARRY OUT A 

         PUTSCH, AS THEY REPEATEDLY WARNED THEY WOULD...



                         // END ACT // 



ELECTIONS FOR A NEW RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT AND A NEW CONSTITUTION 

WERE HELD DECEMBER 12TH 1993.  THE RESULTS OF THE PARLIAMENTARY 

ELECTIONS WERE A SHOCK TO THE YELTSIN ADMINISTRATION AND TO 

FOREIGN OBSERVERS.  



COMMUNISTS AND EXTREME NATIONALISTS WON A MAJORITY.  BUT THE NEW 

CONSTITUTION, OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED, GAVE THE PRESIDENT GREATER

POWERS.  HE VOWED TO CONTINUE HIS REFORM PROGRAM.  MOST LARGE 

INDUSTRIES WERE PRIVATIZED AND A NEW MIDDLE CLASS DEVELOPED AS 

MILLIONS OF SMALL ENTERPRISES WERE FORMED.  



ALTHOUGH OFFICIAL FIGURES CONTINUED TO SHOW DECLINING PRODUCTION,

MANY EXPERTS BELIEVE AVERAGE REAL INCOMES ARE 40 TO 50-PERCENT 

HIGHER THAN REPORTED BY OFFICIAL STATISTICS, BECAUSE THE NEW 

ENTREPRENEURS AVOID TAXES BY FAILING TO DECLARE PROFITS.  

ALTHOUGH REVENUES WERE, AND REMAIN, INADEQUATE, THE RATE OF 

INFLATION WAS GRADUALLY BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL.



BUT THE YELSTIN ADMINISTRATION MADE A SERIOUS MISTAKE.  SECURITY 

AND MILITARY FORCES MOVED INTO CHECHNYA, A PROVINCE ONE-THOUSAND 

MILES SOUTH OF MOSCOW WHICH HAD IGNORED CENTRAL AUTHORITIES SINCE

THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION.  VAST OIL RESERVES WERE BEING 

DEVELOPED IN THE CASPIAN SEA AREA, AND A KEY PIPELINE FROM THE 

CAUCASUS RAN DIRECTLY THROUGH CHECHNYA.  WHETHER OR NOT THIS WAS 

MOSCOW'S PRIME MOTIVE FOR INVADING CHECHNYA IN DECEMBER OF 1994, 

THE RESULT WAS A DISASTER.



WORLD LEADERS GENERALLY AGREED CHECHNYA WAS AN INTEGRAL PART OF 

RUSSIA, BUT DENOUNCED THE WHOLESALE SLAUGHTER OF MEN WOMEN AND 

CHILDREN.  BORIS YELSTIN ADMITTED TO THE DISASTROUS RESULTS.



          // 2ND YELTSIN ACT -- IN RUSSIAN AND FADE //



         WE HOPED THAT OUR ARMED FORCES AND INTERIOR TROOPS WERE 

         STRONGER AND MORE EXPERIENCED, THAT THEIR COMBAT 

         READINESS WAS HIGHER.  THEIR FAILURES, SETBACKS, AND 

         MISTAKES OF THE COMMAND ARE A PAINFUL BLOW TO OUR 

         PATRIOTIC AND CIVIC FEELINGS, TO THE DIGNITY OF 

         RUSSIANS.  OUR STATE TURNED OUT TO BE UNPREPARED FOR THE

         EFFICIENT USE OF POWER.  THIS IS THE REASON FOR THE 

         LOSSES.  THIS IS THE ROOT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN 

         THE COURSE OF COMBAT ACTIVITIES.



                          // END ACT //



THE WAR DRAGGED ON THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AND WAS A FACTOR IN THE 

DEFEAT OF POLITICAL FACTIONS SUPPORTING THE PRESIDENT IN THE 

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS OF DECEMBER, 1995.  NEW PRESIDENTIAL 

ELECTIONS HAD BEEN CALLED FOR JUNE OF 1996, AND BORIS YETLSIN'S 

CHANCES LOOKED VERY DIM.  TO ADD TO HIS WOES, HE HAD SUFFERED TWO

HEART ATTACKS DURING 1995.  



WHEN HE ANNOUNCED IN FEBRUARY HE WOULD RUN FOR RE-ELECTION, 

RUSSIAN POLLS PUT HIM IN FOURTH OR FIFTH PLACE.  BUT THE 

65-YEAR-OLD PRESIDENT, WHO HAD SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE SHOWN HIS 

ABILITY TO RECOVER FROM SEEMINGLY HOPELESS SITUATIONS, TURNED 

INTO A DYNAMO AS HIS CAMPAIGN DEVELOPED.  IN THE FIRST ROUND OF 

VOTING, HE CAME IN FIRST, AHEAD OF THE COMMUNIST CANDIDATE, AND 

THEN OFFERED A CABINET POST TO GENERAL ALEXANDER LEBED, WHO CAME 

IN THIRD.



YELTSIN'S AMERICAN BIOGRAPHER, LEON ARON, SAYS THE FINAL RESULT 

OF THE ELECTION ON JULY 3RD OF LAST YEAR VINDICATED HIM ONCE 

AGAIN, AND VIRTUALLY ENDED THE POWER OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY AS A 

MASS MOVEMENT.



                       // IST ARON ACT //



         THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTIONS WERE BOTH A PERSONAL 

         TRIUMPH FOR BORIS YELTSIN AND A VERY BIG HISTORIC STEP 

         FOR THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE.  HE WAS BARELY IN SINGLE DIGITS,

         OR MAYBE LOW TEENS, IN JANUARY.  HE SHOT UP ALL THE WAY 

         TO 54-PERCENT.  THAT WAS DUE TO A VERY SKILLFUL MESSAGE:

         'CHOOSE ME, OR RETURN TO THE PAST; PROTECT LIBERTY AND 

         DEMOCRACY.  AS FAR AS THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED, 

         THIS WAS A BELATED REFERENDUM ON THE COUNTRY'S POLITICAL

         AND ECONOMIC SYSTEM.



                          // END ACT //



GENERAL LEBED BROUGHT ABOUT A TRUCE IN THE CHECHEN WAR ON AUGUST 

31ST.  BUT THE GENERAL'S POPULARITY DID NOT SUIT MR. YELTSIN, WHO

FIRED HIM IN SEPTEMBER.  



LATE LAST YEAR, THE PRESIDENT UNDERWENT QUADRUPLE BYPASS HEART 

SURGERY, FROM WHICH HE EMERGED SUCCESSFULLY.  HE NOW APPEARS TO 

BE VERY MUCH IN CHARGE.  TO STRENGTHEN THE FORCES FOR REFORM, HE 

HAS NAMED TWO FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS.  ANATOLY CHUBAIS, WHO

CARRIED OUT THE RAPID PRIVATIZATION OF INDUSTRY AND LATER 

MASTERMINDED YELTSIN'S CAMPAIGN FOR THE PRESIDENCY -- AND BORIS 

NEMTSOV, FORMER GOVERNOR OF THE PROVINCE OF NYZHNY NOVGOROD, 

WHICH UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP MADE REMARKABLE ECONOMIC PROGRESS.  

ALTHOUGH THE RECENT FINANCIAL TURMOIL IN EAST ASIA HAS INDIRECTLY

LED TO CAPITAL FLIGHT FROM RUSSIA, THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE 

ECONOMY APPEAR TO BE REASONABLY STRONG.  



LEON ARON BELIEVES BORIS YELTSIN, ALONG WITH MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, 

HAS PLAYED A MOMENTOUS ROLE ON THE WORLD STAGE.



                       // 2ND ARON ACT //



         WITH MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, HE UNDOUBTEDLY WILL BE COUNTED 

         AS A FOUNDING FATHER OF RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY.  GORBACHEV 

         PLAYED AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AND BENIGN ROLE IN 

         UNDERMINING COMMUNISM.  YELTSIN CONTINUED BY BUILDING 

         THE RUDIMENTS OF DEMOCRACY AND TAKING RUSSIA THROUGH A 

         NUMBER OF EXERCISES IN DEMOCRACY:  INSTITUTIONALIZING A 

         FREE PRESS, FREE POLITICAL ACTIVITY, POLITICAL PARTIES, 

         THE PARLIAMENT AND CONSTITUTION AND THE PRESIDENTIAL 

         ELECTIONS.  SO BOTH YELTSIN AND GORBACHEV ARE ASSURED 

         THEIR PLACES IN HISTORY.



                          // END ACT //



DESPITE ITS CONTINUING DIFFICULTIES, RUSSIA HAS COME A LONG WAY 

SINCE THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION SIX-YEARS AGO.   (SIGNED)



NEB/RAE



03-Dec-97 1:32 PM EST (1832 UTC)

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Source: Voice of America

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