Subsection 15.2: Movements for Change
Russian leaders have been forced to implement widespread policy change since the fall of the Soviet Union.
THE FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION
In 1985, a reformer named Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union. By this time, stagnant economy and discrepancies between the lifestyles of workers and officials had begun to contribute to the decline of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev implemented two especially important policies during his time as leader:
1. perestroika – economic restructuring
2. glasnost – increased political openness
Soviet leadership had become almost powerless by 1989. That year, many of the smaller Soviet countries – satellite states – got rid of their Communist leaders, and although an attempt to overthrow Gorbachev failed in 1991, the USSR had ceased to exist by the end of that year. Many satellite states (with the exception of the three Baltic nations) joined the Commonwealth of Independent Countries (CIS) soon after this breakup, and Boris Yeltsin became the first president of the Russian Republic.
A NEW RUSSIA
Russia began the slow transition from a command economy to a market system during the 1990’s. Separatists and ethnic war threatened Russia’s stability (Tatarstan, Dagestan, and other republics called for greater autonomy), and Vladimir Putin inherited these problems when he became president in 1999. He set in motion labor, banking, and property reforms in an effort to fix the economy, and helped reconcile Russia with its former enemy NATO through the NATO-Russia Council. Although Putin was reelected in 2004 to the President’s office, he lost some popularity by adding policies some saw as un-democratic. Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s successor, has named Putin prime minister, which allows him still to play an active role in Russian politics even though he is no longer President.
Supplementary Section: Nationalism in Chechnya
Chechnya, a small republic in southern Russia, has been occupied by that country for some years, but cultural differences are causing significant tensions in the region as Chechens advocate independence.
The people of Chechnya, who mainly practice Sunni Islam, have called for autonomy for years, but Russia is reluctant to grant them this right for two significant reasons: Chechnya is rich in valuable oil, and allowing Chechen autonomy would probably cause other ethnic groups in Russia to call for independence.
Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, instituted direct Russian rule of the area in 2000 in an attempt to prevent Chechen rebels from making further gains, and Chechnya has been granted limited autonomy under a constitution passed in 2003. However, the future of the area is still greatly in doubt; many Chechens are still opposed to Russian occupation while many Russians are reluctant to pull out.
Boehm, Richard G. “Movements for Change.” World Geography and Cultures. Columbus: Glencoe/McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.
Boehm, Richard G. “Nationalism in Chechnya.” World Geography and Cultures. Columbus: Glencoe/McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.
Galustov, Mikhail. “Grozny in 2006.” Photograph. TimePhotos. Time Magazine, 2012. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. <http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/
1. Briefly summarize the situation in Chechnya.
2. Define perestroika and glasnost.
3.Briefly summarize Russia’s transition from a command economy to a market system.