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"Gorbachev Factor"

When communism finally collapsed in Russia in 1991, many Russians were psychologically prepared to rethink their fundamental political values. The Russian government itself embraced political and economic values imported from the West. At the same time, the government and other political forces evoked images of the pre-Soviet period, evident in the naming of the parliament the Duma and the readoption of prerevolutionary names for many streets, squares, and cities. A crisis of Russian identity emerged both for elites and for average citizens. For the elderly in particular, the post-Communist changes appeared to mock the cherished egalitarian values of Soviet society. The generation of pensioners remains the main constituency of the neo-Communist parties, but it is gradually moving off the historical stage. 


For millions of well-educated ex-Soviet citizens living in urban areas, the psychological transition has already been made. Thousands of entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the new laws allowing private enterprise and have opened their own businesses. A new post-Soviet generation is rising to leading positions throughout the country. Many of its members, those in their thirties today, have lived their entire professional lives in the world of Gorbachevs perestroika and the post-Soviet market economy. For this generation, the end of the Soviet era was the emancipation they had been waiting for.  

Contemporary Russian political culture is a vibrant mixture of contradictory elements drawn from the prerevolutionary, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods, and enriched with global moral and intellectual influences. This is a culture in a state of flux: it combines a resurgence of Russian nationalism and Orthodox Christianity with survivals of the values of Soviet patriotism and collectivism and with high levels of support for principles associated with liberal democracy, including political and religious tolerance, political liberty, individual rights, rights of opposition and dissent, freedom of speech, and competitive elections. It is a fluid culture, engaged in active processes of social modernization leading to a market economy, a law-governed state, and a civil society.

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Russian Political Culture


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
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