Russia in the Early 1990's

Russia in the Early 1990’s

The Russia was born as a sovereign state when, on 25 December 1991, in Alma Ata, the president of the USSR M. Gorbačëv, at the end of the complex crisis born from the failed coup of August 1991, definitively abandoned power. Previously, on June 12, 1990, the Parliament of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), which was then headed by the USSR (see this Appendix), had proclaimed its right to independence and elected B. El ‘ zin President of the Republic.

The Russia includes 20 republics, 6 territories (krai), 50 provinces (oblasts), 2 cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg), 10 districts (okrugi), which are recognized with various degrees of autonomy. Very strong, also due to the presence of many ethnic groups especially in Northern Siberia and Dagestan, are the centrifugal forces, in some cases even separatist. Serious conflicts with central power have arisen in particular in the regions of Yekaterinburg, Vologda, in the Primorsky territory (Vladivostok) and in the Čečenskaja, Baškirija and Inguškaja republics. The Treaty of the Russian Federation was promulgated on March 31, 1992, but Čečenskaya, Tatarstan and Tuva did not accede to it; while 25 million Russians live in the other republics of the former USSR, particularly concentrated in some areas, creating even serious conflict situations in eastern Ukraine, the Crimean peninsula, western Kazakhstan and the Baltic republics.

The Russia inherited from the UN the seat that once belonged to the USSR and therefore has the right of veto in the Security Council; is a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), is part of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and has adopted the international commitments of the USSR, primarily as regards nuclear disarmament (treaties Start 1 and Start 2, signed during the US-USSR summit in Washington in June 1992 and in Moscow in January 1993).

Until the parliamentary elections of 12 December 1993, political life was dominated by the conflict that opposed President El’zin and the government he supported (Prime Minister E. Gajdar) to the forces led by Vice President A. Rutskoj and the President of the Parliament Russia Chasbulatov. At the root of the conflict are the economic policy measures launched by the government, with the progressive liquidation of political prices, the freezing of wages and savings, the reduction of state support for large deficit companies, the start of privatization. Although it has enabled the inflation rate to be reduced (which by mid-1993 had reached 2600%), to give space to widespread entrepreneurship (limited, however, to the commercial sectors and strongly controlled by the mafia) and to guarantee normal supplies to the cities, putting an end to the shortage of previous years, Gajdar’s “ shock therapy ” did not, however, serve to reduce the decline in production, and made the living conditions of the fixed-income population even more severe. Faced with the worsening of the conflict, El’zin – after having replaced Gajdar at the head of the government (who will later return to the cabinet as coordinator of economic departments) with V. Černomyrdin – first focused on increasing presidential powers and then, thanks to the popular support received with the vote of 25 April 1993 which confirmed him as president, he dismissed the vice president, Parliament dissolved (21 September 1993) and new elections called. Only after bloody conflicts, which ended on 4 October 1993 with the assault on the seat of Parliament by the armed forces who remained loyal to the president and the surrender of the insurgents, did the conflict come to an end.

The political elections (December 12, 1993) gave the Russia its first constitution with a clearly presidential structure, but voted by a very small majority, and its first parliament elected democratically. The political forces that had supported the reforms suffered a clear defeat while a strong success tore up the lists of V. Žirinovskij (at the head of a right-wing group chauvinist) and those of the left opposition of the Communist Party of G. Žuganov and of the Agrarian Party of M. Lapšin. Following the electoral result, Gajdar and the ” reformist ” ministers left the government which was being extended to exponents of large public industry, in particular that of the military sector. At the end of February 1994, the vote by the Parliament of an amnesty provision in favor of those responsible for the coup attempt in 1991 and the insurrection ruling of October 1993, however, opened a serious conflict between the president and the legislative assembly.

In the fight against the opposition El’zin was able to count on the support of the West and above all of the United States. However, not on adequate economic aid (even if the Tokyo summit in April 1993 pledged to provide 52.4 billion dollars of “aid”). In foreign policy, El’zin moved towards the West with the intention of blocking any attempt to initiate forms of economic, political and military integration between Western and Central-Eastern Europe that could lead to an isolation of Russia . For this reason it took a stand against the request made by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe for their entry into NATO and finally approved, in the meetings in Brussels and Corfu in June 1994, Partnership for peace) linked to NATO but independent from it, open to all countries of the former Warsaw Pact, including Russia At the same time, however, the Russia – which after the initial ” Western ” phase of its politics has begun to become more and more aware of its role as a Eurasian power – has taken on as priority objectives of its foreign policy those related to relations with other states that arose from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this context, the initiative developed, as well as through the structures of the Community of Independent States, also and above all with a series of unilateral initiatives, in the direction of Ukraine (on the problems of Crimea, the division of the Black Sea fleet as well as the control and destruction of strategic weapons of the former Red Army), the Caucasus (to control the conflicts that arose between Armenia and Azerbaijan and within Georgia) and Asia central (to contain the pressure of Islamic movements supported by Turkey and Iran). The initiative taken in February 1994 – in the context of the war in the former Yugoslavia – to induce the Serbs to withdraw heavy weapons from the hills of Sarajevo, so as to defeat the ultimatum launched by the UN (but without Russian consent) and by NATO and to open a new phase in the negotiations for Bosnia, was considered by many to be a possible first step in a new course of Moscow’s foreign policy.

Russia in the Early 1990's

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