On 12 June 1991 Boris Yeltsin was elected as the president of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic with 57% of the vote, becoming the first popularly elected president. However, Yeltsin never recovered his popularity after a series of economic and political crises in Russia in the 1990s.
Today the far 1990s seem to many far ancient history. 37% of people believe that another President could change the life of the country for the better and only one forth part of those interviewed state that nothing could delay the awful deprivations of 1990s.
Common people of those time thought of the new Russia as a country that would rest on such soft values as freedom of speech, pluralism and joining Europe.
However, in practice, it was even more simple than that, as what people wanted was to get rid of poverty, shortage of products, criminality and despair.
Let’s review some problems of that period.
‘Terror avenue of communism. What we demand is truth and public judiciary procedure”
It is believed that the debate over renaming Leningrad into St. Petersburg in 1989-1991 was rather the controversy between old and new values. It was not just about a battle between two great men of Russian/Soviet history, Peter the Great and Vladimir Lenin.
The reform satisfied most of the intelligentsia, democrats and pro-reform Petersburgans, and turned the conservative communists, veterans and the military into “losers” of democratic transition. The awful war of 1941-1945 was still vivid and bright in the memory of those who saw it. Renaming made them think that all the losses would be forgotten soon.
Economic Reform in Russia started in the year of 1990 to achieve macroeconomic stability and to restructure the country’s economic framework. Another goal of the economic reform was to open the market for the foreign investors to connect the Russian economy with the other countries of the world. The program laid out a number of macroeconomic policy measures to achieve stabilization.
The program aimed at reducing the government budget deficit from its 1991 level of 20 percent of GDP to 9 percent of GDP by the second half of 1992 and to 3 percent by 1993. The prices on energy and food staples increased twice, thrice or even more. Annual expense gain of the population didn’t have to exceed 0.6%.
People lived under conditions of tough deficit and crisis. The tense situation gave rise to criminality and dissatisfaction with authority in general. The reasons for intentional homicides could be thefts of such simple goods as a rag that cost less than 1 dollar, etc.
In the early years of the reform, the minimum wage fell significantly below the poverty line. In 1992, it accounted for 33% of the poverty line for able-bodied persons and by 1995 it had decreased to 14% of that level. Additional jobs have been used to compensate for the low wages.
Authorities failed to provide pensioners with worthy level of life and asked enterprises and organizations to help in providing of urgent help to this category of people as the winter approached. It was necessary to supply them with such essentials as food, medical services and shoes.
Urgent help to pensioners was obtained from abroad as well. The problem consisted in the fact that many items were stolen and never reached the place of destination.
In the high rise of criminality the police of one of the cities gave laborers permission to carry and use weapon as they couldn’t ensure due protection of citizens.
A criminal committed an offense resisting the police but sued the authority representatives and was freed from the accusation being the leader of the local criminal group. Moreover, it was suggested that he should be elected mayor of the city as he was the only one who could pacify his crime partners. The new mayor candidate refused to take the position but expressed his willingness to continue the struggle against socialistic legitimacy using the experience acquired at the time of his imprisonment.
The first business center for children was created in 1990. Children at the age from 9 to 14 years old could become presidents, bankers and senators. What they had to do was to live under conditions of the market economy. They were taught to survive and got salary for their achievements. Adults occupied the positions of commercial directors.
The first private railway appeared in Russia in 1991 in the Yaroslavl region. It was owned by the cooperative named Decor.
The year of 1992 was the beginning of the new epoch. Former members of the Communist Party were coming into power.
‘Workers of the world, unite! Being guided by the Communist Party, we’ll move forward to the victory of communism’.