therapyĒ reforms under the leadership of Gaidar lasted for about a
year: in December 1992 Yeltsin sacrificed him as a concession to the
demands of the Supreme Soviet and replaced him with Victor
Chernomyrdin (b. 1938) as head of the government.
Chernomyrdinís government admitted that the Russian economy was in
shambles and that something needed to be done to stop the sharp decline
in industrial production. However, Gaidarís basic monetarist approach,
with its emphasis on strengthening the rouble,
on financial stabilization, and on the fight against inflation, was
Having said that the previous economic policy had been
seriously flawed, Chernomyrdinís government was unable to offer an
alternative to Gaidarís course and to change the balance of negative
and positive effects of the capitalist modernization.
Chernomyrdinís government, industrial and agricultural output
continued to fall. The lack of investment resulted in a
primitivization of industrial production and a return to outdated
technologies. The acute underfunding dealt a crushing blow to
education, science, culture, health care, and other spheres vital to
the functioning of a modern society. The structures of the welfare
state created under communism were crumbling. The Russian population
was rapidly polarized into the poor and the rich. A sharp
deterioration in the standards of living led to a significant
decline in the birthrate: for an average family to have a baby
became a luxury it could no longer afford.
workers and intellectuals felt uncertain about their future and
feared losing their jobs because of the continuing
deindustrialization and sharp contraction of the educational,
cultural, and academic establishments. By 1994 the number of fully
or partially unemployed exceeded ten million Ė nearly 14 percent of
Russiaís entire working population.
socioeconomic problems and the hardships imposed by the reforms were
the social cost of the radical transformation. The price for most
citizens was exorbitantly high and directly affected the behavior of
voters during the 1993, 1995, and 1999 parliamentary
elections and the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.