A quarter century ago, Russia gained their first ever President. As a result of national elections on 12 June 1991, it was Boris Yeltsin. To reflect on the results and impact of the first presidential elections we asked people who had them directly related: political analysts Igor Bunin and Gleb Pavlovsky, who in 1991 were practicing technologists. And the participant of election campaign of Alexander Rutskoi, He was elected Vice-President of the Russian Federation in tandem with President Yeltsin.
At that time the Russian Soviet Federative socialist Republic (RSFSR) was not yet an independent state, and was part of the Soviet Empire.
But just six months after the June elections in Russia, the Soviet Union collapsed. Historians and political scientists today argue about the role of the first President of Russia in the collapse of the Soviet Union and managed to save it, if the Federation did not establish the post of Republican President?
Along the way, is another debate among politicians about whether our country is a presidential form of government?
All agree, perhaps, only one: elections a quarter century ago were unprecedented experience, because until then the head of our state has never been chosen by universal suffrage.
photo: Archive MK
“The Soviet Union in any case should die”
— How do you assess the first election of the President of Russia: it was for the good of the Republic, the democratic conquest — or a step towards a geopolitical catastrophe, the collapse of the Soviet Union?
Igor Bunin, Director of the Center for political technologies:
– I do not suffer from nostalgia for the Soviet Union and I believe that the USSR anyway should be dead, so it’s not about geopolitical catastrophe, but a social inevitability.
Of course, you can use force and repression to hold out for some time, if the authorities in the Soviet Union was not Gorbachev, but someone else. But the stronger it would be a blast, the more victims would have been under the rubble of the collapsed Empire. And so the Union collapsed almost bloodlessly.
Therefore, the elections of the President of the Russian Federation, I am not as something negative. They took place at a stage when it was necessary, and allowed to begin the process of building a new Russian state and a new society in Russia is not a Communist, not Soviet, and completely different.
Another thing is that not all of us turned out, very little of what happened to the first President of Russia…
Gleb PAVLOVSKY, President of the effective policy Foundation:
– This election took place at a time when the process of personal confrontation between Gorbachev and Yeltsin became unmanageable. Yeltsin formally only fought with other candidates in presidents of the Russian Federation: Ryzhkov, Zhirinovsky Tuleev… Gorbachev in the Bulletin, of course, was not. But those who voted for Yeltsin, — in fact, in the first place voted against Gorbachev.
By that time the society has ceased the controversy about how we can continue to develop the country, how to choose the model of privatization, etc. the Agenda was tampered with, it degenerated into a dispute about the two personalities.
We, without even noticing, began to discuss them, and not the conditions of our future existence. Moreover, this debate is not fueled by logic, but only emotional arguments.
This confrontation was all the more nonsensical that neither Gorbachev nor Yeltsin did not make any incompatible and irreconcilable programs. A coherent program did not exist nor one nor the other, and hence nothing to argue about, and the political contradictions they could not be. There were only personal ambition.
It was a strange election in which no discussion on the course of the country. Therefore, the success of Zhirinovsky, who took third place. He just shouted some phrase, built grimaces, but that at the time the voter seemed enough.
Moreover, any attempt to talk about the case was perceived as bad and ignored by the press. Nikolay Ryzhkov was the only member of the race who tried to offer some strategy, but was not heeded.
Those elections has infected our political system a disease that is not cured so far. Our party and 25 years later is not the party of ideas or platforms, and parties of persons: Zyuganov, Mironov, Yavlinsky, etc.
It was a sad election, which ended alarming Yeltsin’s inauguration, where he actually gave a monarchical mandate, proclaiming first the people’s representatives of free Russia for 1000 years and saying a lot of other pretentious nonsense.
The rhetoric glorifying the victory of Boris Yeltsin, was a hellish mixture of the Soviet and the monarchist tradition. He was immediately — and the anointed of God, and the leader of the working people, and the hope of progressive mankind. And this synthesis became the second contagious disease, the curse of Russian presidential power, which holds to this day. After 2012 we see another flowering of the monarchy-Soviet relations to President Putin.
photo: Alexander Astafyev
Yeltsin’s successor Vladimir Putin was not able to deliver the presidential system of government in Russia from built-in defects.
“Things could be otherwise”
— What would happen if the victory at the election won not Yeltsin, but someone else? For Example, Ryzhkov. Or if the elections did not take place?
– It’s not in the elections of the RSFSR President and Gorbachev and his perestroika. The last Soviet leader amid the growing economic crisis was delirious and didn’t understand what to do. Then I go back to the textbook Leninist socialism, or to build a social democratic society, strengthen the planned economy or to develop a free market.
He long could not decide to move to a market economy and to abolish the monopoly of the Communist party on power. To that in the end he still had to come, but — when it was already too late. All decisions of Gorbachev was late. This led to the fact that the stores all products disappeared, and in society there was such resentment to the Soviet reality, the Soviet Union no one was sorry he caused the protest. That was reflected in the mass demonstrations.
So it’s not the result of the elections in the RSFSR. Yes, they become a knockout blow to the Soviet socialist system. He won the supporter of the most rigid and rapid turn-liberal — Boris Yeltsin. No one else but to win and could not.
That Yeltsin had become intellectu, antithesis, and hope of those who are tired of the old life. And it is all in the RSFSR tired. That is why it was with universal approval of the independent Russian Republic, which the Soviet Union was already absolutely not necessary. It grew out of the Soviet Union, as the chick from the egg, breaking the shell of the Soviet.
And let them not be misled by the referendum on preserving the Soviet Union. Yes, the majority of Russians in favour of the USSR in there somewhere as there were. But the same most went to the streets to demand that their life was regulated by the Republican, not the Federal authorities.
So I repeat: the collapse of the Soviet Union was inevitable, if not just elections on 12 June 1991 and not the destructive activity of the President of Russia Yeltsin — the collapse of the Union could take other forms. And — probably — much more catastrophic.
— By 1991, the process of disintegration of the USSR was already running, and it was necessary to have in power a political genius to stop him. But Gorbachev is not a genius. But Yeltsin is nothing to keep not wanted, he dreamed of a new world. I am sure that if he wants, he could stop the collapse of the USSR in June 1991, and even after the August putsch. But in August, Russia has effectively alienated itself from itself, Ukraine and others.
Now imagine that Yeltsin after a victory over putsch brought to the podium of the rally in front of the White house doesn’t mock the fighters that it would be covered by shields, and was invited to the rostrum of the Ukrainian leaders. If he had called them in August — that the leadership of this Republic would not dare not to come. Because Yeltsin is perceived as a major Union leader. And if he gave the Ukrainians the opportunity to share the victory over the putschists with Russia, the referendum on the separation of the total country Ukraine could simply not happen. It could be otherwise.
But Yeltsin is so in a hurry to personal power, so wanted to move to the Kremlin, which has created all opportunities for the group Kravchuk to seize power in Ukraine and to declare independence.
Yeltsin scared my Moscow those of the Federal Republic, which in contrast to the Baltic States weren’t ready to leave the country. They watched as the Lubyanka dismantle the monument to Dzerzhinsky, and thought: what Boris will do we have, if we stay with him?
In an interview with “MK” Nikolay Ryzhkov said that perhaps for the sake of preserving the USSR, Yeltsin had to give the power over all the Union. But after August 1991, he could take her himself, he did not interfere. But it would be a difficult decision that requires a lot of work. And Boris loved the simplest of moves, which give fast visible results: “I am the king of Russia, works for me. The rest can be free, not to them” — I Think he thought this way.
The ability to include Moscow in triumph the heads of other republics Yeltsin to use did not want. And instead began to make claims to the same Ukraine that it “eats” Russia. And this is a bad conversation — all began to hurry “to move off”.
In the end we can say that the Russian elections on 12 June 1991 and their results have accelerated the process of disintegration and gave it concrete form — “away from Russia”.
Figure Alexei Marinova. 1991
“There is an individual who is sovereign”
— It has been 25 years. The presidential control model of Russia justified?
– We have a very fragmented, atomized society. Many different peoples and social groups. And very little horizontal linkages. There is no party that would unite the representatives of certain interests throughout the country, no strong unions and social organizations.
But if not established such institutions, the President willingly or unwillingly becomes the only symbolizing Russia and unite citizens factor. Only he unites everyone around him or, as it was in the era of Yeltsin lost popularity, even against itself — it does not matter.
Is an individual, is sovereign. Today is, apparently, the only option of power. Another thing is that it would be nice to strengthen the Parliament to the President was at least some counterweight. Because for all the needs of society in this unifying symbol, like the President, the absence of a counterweight always leaves the risk of a relapse into authoritarianism. On the one hand, the President as a symbol to us absolutely necessary, with another — it after all should be somewhat weaker than it is now.
Unfortunately, the existing presidential model management Russia has not justified itself. It is understood and Putin at the dawn of his reign. He saw that Yeltsin, despite his unpopularity in the last years of the presidency, was still a monarch, which depends on the will of any decision. And Putin didn’t want to become the same.
So at first, Mr Putin has tried to change this model. He came up with a very interesting shape during the census, when in the column “occupation” said: “public services”. That is still not the anointed of God, not the truth in the first instance.
An attempt was made to create a balanced system of powers, where there is not only the President but also an authoritative Parliament, which was the real controversy, and there is a strong government. All we had in the beginning of “zero” was a strong government, able to debate with the President and not under his administration. Began to develop collective leadership.
Interestingly, the greatest success the fastest economic growth our country has achieved at a time of collective leadership. For example, between 1953 and 1960, after the overthrow of Khrushchev (1965-1970). And during Putin’s first term, when he was not afraid of collective leadership, the country emerged from a deep crisis, and the economy started to accelerate, although the petrodollar rain has not yet started, it started later.
And then there was the traditional dizzy with success. Happened sincere recognition of the head of state of the country’s population, and in Putin’s entourage began fawning adoration “leader of the nation”. And gradually the whole control system was again closed for President.
Then, in 2008-2012, there was a game with the presidential post, when Putin seems to be his left, but, as we know now, was still in charge. And after the formal return to the main armchair of the country, Putin has increased his personal power, to restore the balance between different branches of government in the foreseeable future is simply impossible.
The bug was originally founded in the Constitution of Russia of 1993, which allows the President to take as much power as he wants, virtually without any restrictions. And of course: this Constitution was written under the dictation of the first President of Russia, Tsar Boris.
I think we will inevitably (perhaps through age 8) arrive at the conclusion that the power structure in the country will have to think afresh and to fix it in the updated Constitution. Because in its current form, when we, in fact, no government and Parliament, and the President is almost a monarch, but can’t answer the basic economic challenges — power is ineffective. It’s a bad situation, but I think the blame for it cannot be attributed to one person.
The degradation of the political scene began, as I said, before the election, 12 June 1991, when the competition of development ideas has been replaced by looking at portraits.
photo: Gennady Cherkasov
The first President and first Vice-President
Alexander Rutskoi: “we did Not start”
Alexander RUTSKOY, the first Vice-the President of Russia:
— You quote the arguments based on emotions. Those who “shows emotions” in this direction, accusing Yeltsin, Kravchuk and Shushkevich in the disintegration of the Union, are absolutely wrong.
The initiator of introduction of a post of the President of Russia was not Yeltsin and the Congress of people’s deputies of the USSR. In 1990 at the Congress, Gorbachev was elected President of the Soviet Union. And before the Plenum of the CPSU Central Committee issued a document, according to which the former republics of the USSR, were recognized as States. The status of the States were to receive and the Autonomous Republic. This, incidentally, was fraught with the danger that followed the Soviet Union fall apart and the Russian Federation. If the 15 Autonomous regions, belonged to her, received the status of States, then Russia would have lost half the territories and all hydrocarbons.
So, if the Union has a President, and each of “States” by analogy obtained the right to their President. That is, the initiative went from the Union government. Naturally, the Russian Federation could not remain on the side from these processes, the idea was picked up by the Republican Congress of people’s deputies. It is quite natural that one of the candidates for President of Russia was Boris Yeltsin, who by that time had already been elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR.
Orgy on the destruction of the Soviet Union began in 1989 with the famous Plenum of the CPSU Central Committee “About the new national policy”, and then there was adopted the law on the procedure of exit from the USSR.
The party took all the decisions, and Congress gave them the status of laws. Yeltsin, Shushkevich and Kravchuk took advantage of this legal framework. Therefore, the Union fell apart. Therefore, it could disintegrate and Russia, and the most important decision that Yeltsin took as President, is to resign and to designate a person who will be tough to stop the parade of sovereignties, put Republican presidents in place.
— During the first campaign elected not only the President but also the Vice-President, whom you eventually became. Why Yeltsin offered this role right for you?
– I never asked, but refused, only agreed with the third approach. At that time I was Chairman of the Committee of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR and member of the Presidium, drew the attention of Yeltsin for its activity.
But when he invited me to become a candidate for Vice-President, I said I don’t understand politics, therefore, is not ready for such a role. He said, “Well, think”…
When I asked him the second time, I said, and what I as Vice President will do if we win? He determined the direction: the restoration of the military-industrial complex. Because Gorbachev’s conversion gradually destroying the defense industry. We took the re-equipment of its army and the arms trade on foreign markets.
Another issue that Yeltsin promised to give me, is the reform of the Armed forces. The device of the army is not consistent with modern strategy of defensive action. And besides, I had, according to the promise of Boris Yeltsin, to supervise the social protection of the military, veterans and their families. These are my themes, I know them, so, on reflection, he agreed to run for Vice-President.
But after the election everything was done exactly the opposite: I have instructed agriculture, in which I understood nothing. And the interdepartmental Commission on combating crime and corruption. Lawyer I, of course, was not. The only thing that saved: I did not suffer from snobbery, so asking experienced people if something does not understand, and studied.
Another oft-repeated hypothesis: if on 12 June 1991 did not win you with Yeltsin and Ryzhkov—Gromov, then the story would have been different…
— You can only guess, but I think that by the time these elections due to “restructuring” the political process has become irreversible. Was the destruction of everything from the economy to the state system.
Let us once again review the chronology of this peak.
September 1989. The resolution of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist party, which States: “a key strength of our Federation — the voluntary unification of the republics into one Federal state, in which each Republic retains sovereignty and independence. Union republics sovereign rights of the socialist States. Higher representative bodies of the republics (States) can appeal and suspend resolutions and orders of the Union government in its territory.”
That is, you know, what is it? Orders of the government and adopted by the Federal government, the laws of the Republic may not perform. Now many are worried that only one in Chechnya not all laws are executed properly. And there was a live permit anyone not to execute any laws and orders from above.
In November of the same year was adopted the law of the USSR about the economic independence of the Baltic States. Naturally, they were the first to fall out of the USSR.
March 1990 the third Congress of people’s deputies repeals the sixth article of the Constitution of the USSR. The existing vertical of power (good or bad) simply abolished, not replacing it with any other. Under the leadership of the newly elected Soviet President Gorbachev in April, the Congress of people’s deputies passes the law on languages of the peoples of the USSR. In the national republics became possible to abandon the paperwork in Russian. This led to discrimination of Russian-speaking population. And at the same Congress — the law on the delimitation of powers between the USSR and allied States.
And 3 April 1990, was adopted the decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR about introduction in action of the law on the procedure of exit from the USSR.
So who laid this mine under the Soviet Union? Certainly not we with Yeltsin. Not to be confused with the watch bath, just enough to read the laws for the destruction of the Soviet Union.
Against this background, in the Union began a civil war based on ethnicity. Remember Baku, Dushanbe, massacre in Kyrgyzstan… Seeing that the boat begins to unravel, Gorbachev deliberately finished off the Union. From the series: don’t have you, no one…
— The Belavezha accords on the dissolution, Yeltsin organized, nothing was decided?
– The status of Vice-President was supposed to accompany the President on trips. And when I asked Yeltsin a question on why he never takes with him and what is the purpose of the visit to Belarus, he said: “We’re going to sign an economic agreement between Belarus and Russia.”
And in the morning I know that Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed a document stating that the Soviet Union is no more. Imagine my state when, even as an 18-year-old, I took the oath of allegiance to the Soviet Union!
Then I spoke at the Supreme Council in the presence of Gorbachev and Yeltsin and appealed to the deputies: “do Not ratificarea this document: this is a conspiracy, is a crime”! What? Only 7 deputies voted. The rest voted “for” the dismemberment of the Soviet Union.
Today, the Communists are walking around with red flags and smear tears about the demise of the Soviet Union. And who voted for the ratification? In the Parliament mainly some Communists were.
— What was the key to your victory with Yeltsin on 12 June 1991?
– Nikolay Ivanovich Ryzhkov, at all to it respect, is remembered as the Prime Minister of the USSR. That is, as “co-author” process, in which the shelves were only soap and pickled garlic. Everything else can be purchased either on cards or on the markets for big money. Public opinion on the Union leadership was appropriate.
Therefore, the chances of winning was more than Yeltsin, who was not associated with failure. On the contrary, to communicate with him the hopes for renewal and a bright future. And as a conservative touch, embodying traditional Patriotic values, when it was a military man, Hero of the Soviet Union — that is me.
— Does our country need a President, or has the right to exist another form of government?
— In the 25 years since the first presidential elections, the system of power gradually lined up correctly. This system does not have enough responsibility and discipline of the performers. If these elements are tightened, people are going to be responsible for the performance of their duties, honestly and in good faith to implement the decrees and orders of the President, everything will be fine.
And the President of Russia was needed 25 years ago, to make it clear: who is carrying out reforms and is responsible for them, and needed now. Russia has become very special, whether we like it or not: we must not only collective intelligence, but also the specific head of state. Today, thank God, we have a head of state all right, which is not true of other authorities.Related posts: