• William Tyler

Hopes Dashed: Gorbachev, Yeltsin, & Putin

Gorbachev was to prove the last leader of The USSR. He was also the first Soviet leader to be born after The October Revolution of 1917. He was Andropov's preferred successor, but the Politburo went with the older man, Chernenko. Thus it was only with Chernenko's death that Gorbachev finally achieved the leadership.

Although well aware of the problems and issues facing Russia, both at home and abroad, Gorbachev remained a committed Communist. His belief was that with necessary changes the Soviet System would at last catch up The West, and possibly outpace it. His regime is noted for such changes under the twin headings of Glasnost (Openness) and Perestroika (rebuilding).

But Gorbachev like many leaders before and since was to discover that you cannot have a little reform in such a buttoned down system as The USSR was.

He was ejected from Office by a combination of first an attempted coup by Marxist hardliners, and then by the more radical Yeltsin.

The USSR came to a legal end in 1991. Yeltsin's rule was hampered by both his personal problem with alcohol and his political problem with 'wild capitalism'. This was Russia's chance for genuine democracy, but it failed the test. Although Yeltsin carefully stage managed the succession of Vladimir Putin, he had misjudged the man badly.

Instead of reforming Yeltsin's botched attempt at capitalism and democracy, Putin returned to those two stalwarts of Russian history, elitism/cronyism and authoritarianism.

We are left pondering two questions in 2022, viz

  1. How will Putin's rule end?

  2. Who will succeed him? Will it be the same, better, or worse?

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