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Non-economic Interests

 

The middle tier of civil society, which develops with even greater difficulties, is formed on the basis of non-economic group interests. The Soviet prototypes of these organizations were, in effect, the instruments of the political regime. Most of them were unable to adapt to the post-Soviet realities and disintegrated, such as, for instance, the Soviet mass youth movement directed by the Young Communists League (Komsomol).  

Ecological action in a Russian city. Photo: medchr.cheb.ru

First mass public movements of a different kind appeared during the perestroika. These were umbrella type organizations that brought together the numerous non-formal groups that appeared during this period. In Russia, the Democratic Russia movement was, perhaps, one of the best-known examples of such popular movements. By the late 1980s it had become one of the most influential social and political organizations in the country. It organized mass rallies and put pressure on the authorities to replace corrupt party and state functionaries. Many of its members were successful in the elections to the USSR and Russias Supreme Soviets in 1989-90, as well as in local elections.

Democratic Russia played an important role in accelerating the political transformation of the country. Eventually, however, the heterogeneous nature of the movements constituent elements and the diverging goals pursued by its various factions began to tear it apart. In 1993 the movement disintegrated.

The birth of the mass ecological movement also goes back to the years of the perestroika. At that time it often joined forces with the general democratic movements, such as Democratic Russia. In 1989-90 the ecological movement split into two strands political and functional. The forming political parties absorbed the political strand, whereas the functional strand continued to exist as an important element of civil society. However, in the conditions of the deepening economic crisis the ecological movement became fragmented and lost much of the influence that it had had at its peak in the late 1980s.

At the end of 1980s independent womens organizations sprang up in Russia, and their number grew steadily throughout 1990s. By the start of the new century, over 600 womens organizations were officially registered with Russias Ministry of Justice. These bodies function in different areas of public life: from economy (e.g., the All-Russian Association of Women-Entrepreneurs) to social areas (e.g., the Society of Assisting Large Families).

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