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Civil Society Structure

 

What was particularly remarkable about Gorbachevs period and clearly marked a new departure was the toleration of ideological and political activity independent of the authorities. Citizens were allowed to organize into political parties, popular movements, parliamentary oppositions, and so on, and all this was dramatically changing the political landscape. The new forms of civic activity were building links between civil society and the state and acted as primary schools of democracy by training leaders and structuring politics. 

"We want ice cream every day!" Photo: caravel.ru

During perestroika the appearance of political parties and movements was the first step toward the emergence of the structures of civil society that catalyzed the process of self-organization of the population. These new structures were of two main types: 

       "NEW OLD" ORGANIZATIONS                                            NEW ORGANIZATIONS

Old public organizations that broke away from state control and acquired independence (trade unions, creative unions of artists, writers, filmmakers, etc.) 

 

New organizations, including those that claimed their parentage from the organizations that had existed before the October 1917 Revolution but were prohibited under the Soviets

The atmosphere of glasnost, when censorship controls over the mass media were significantly relaxed, facilitated the reemergence of the structures of civil society. By the first half of the 1990s, over 2,000 public associations of the all-Russian (national) level had been officially registered with Russias Ministry of Justice. In total, over 30,000 organizations of various types were set up. By the end of 1990s their number had increased several-fold, reaching a total of over 400,000.

Structurally, civil society can be conveniently analyzed in terms of three relatively independent tiers: 

The lower tier Organizations connected with protecting economic interests  
The middle tier Associations set up on the basis of common non-economic, social, and everyday interests 
The upper tier Associations set up on spiritual and ideological grounds
 
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