Prospects for the Russian Democratic Reformers
An Intelligence Assessment
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Prospects for the Russian Democratic Reformers '
Am Intelligence' Aiiesstnsnt
This pacer wai rxcpartdOfTxe
of Soviei Analysis- Cosiussenu and queries arc srelcorne and may be ctireclrd lo SOVA
Prospects for the Russian Democratic Reformers
Keypassage by the ipecial session of ibe Russian Congress, of Boris
proposal early this month toopularly ejected Russian
and hold an election in Juneatershed event for
refot nvsia in Russia and the union. YeTtsin's immediate task is to get the Supreme Soviet to draft an amendment that givestrong presidency and then to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority when the Congress reconvenes si late May. Ycl'tsin's victory inirectly elected presidency will also bolster supportew parliamentary election that would probably resultore reformist Congress.
If Ycl'tsin wins (heis likely at thisbattle with Gorbachev and the center will probably intensify. He willuse his new position to push even more assertively for radical economic reform and Russian sovereignly. The center will most likely step up its campaign to discredit him and will try to block him in the Russian legislature, but its main surrogate, the Russian Ojtnmunist Party, is splintering and lacks voting discipline. In the absence of violence or other use of force, however, the center is unlikely to vanquish YeTuin or stop the Russian legislature from becoming more representative of 'he republic's populace.'
The outcome of this struggle will depend largely oo the success the democratic reformers in Russia have had to far in changing tbe politics of the republic. In the spring0 reformers succeeded inizable bloc of deputies to the Russian Congress of People's Deputies and to local councils,ore deriiocratic alternative to President Gorbachev's regime and challenging the hold of the Communist Party. In December the Congress succeeded in amending over one-fifth of the Russianshifting itharply liberal direction. The amendments assert republic sovereignty, lay the groundwork for ccooornic reform, andcivil rights. The legislature also passed bills that challenge the center's authority over military service, rights to natural resources on Russian territory, and the union budget. Traditionalists, however, have succeeded in blocking key reform legislation and weakening other reformist initiatives,ighly controversial landownership law. Reformers have also been blocked by the center's hold on monetary and fiscal policy and the power of the party bureaucracy.
Democratic reformers al the helm of cityeffective a. the republic legislature a. movingof the local councils are not clearly dd.neatcdomplicated poliUcal battle with oblast-level
by tbe Communistexert control. Reformists at the.re beginning to be blamed for the continuing downturns in the local economics
The ability of the Russian democratic movement to moveindividual leaders to create partiesass determine the pace of reform in the republic and in theof Rosses democratically orientedpast few months formed fairly cohesiveand published action programs.
orgSora-inciuding the Urgest three" major umbrella movement, Democrattceformist voting blocs within local councOs as wellhe^pubhc legislature. The movement has articulated an opcrdy anti-Comrnunut Sorm These of force in the Baltic republ.es appears toarties and provided the impetus for Otemto submerge ideological and tactical differences, at leas, for Democratic Russia took tbe lead in organizing pro-Ycl ounter the anil-Ycl'tsin campaign orchestrated by theafter his caU for Gorbachev's resignation. The Urgeatior* throughout Russia before thearch wen. urging the public to vote -yet" for the popularly elected republic presidency
The parties, however, face an uphilldentification with parties and voter apathy that has grownurrounding elections in the springorn off and munfe coitions nave continued to worsen. Most of the newa re-Pubhcwide organizational structure, and all have on^dK ^bhe-level media access. Personal antagonisms among party leaders.^differingow to attract new members, and disagreements over how far and hoTfas. to^ush reforms have stunted the parties' ability to transform themselves into viable alternatives to the CPSU
Russia's democratic reformers are likely to face challenges
Increasingly frustrated publicore hostile and aggressive center m
the coming months:
Reformers in power will face irrcreasing public criticism as economic conditions delcriorate.
The center will probably intensify efforts desigoed lo co-opt. divide, and discredit the new political parties and reformers in power.
National and local traditional ist media will intensify efforts toreformist positions, blame reformers for shortages and increases in crime, accuse them of economic sabotage, and portray local councils dominated by reformers as inept.
While prospects for reform at the republic level are cautiouslysince reformers won thearch republic referendum calling for tbe creationirectly elected republicreformers have less power to battle the system effectively. To overcome the present obstacles and move reform forward, reformers in power and the emerging political parties face some formidable tasks. Their progress can be measured on three primary fronts:
Their ability to overcome voter apathy and garner public support by developing programs that address (he basic concerns of thefood distribution, unemployment, safety of pensions, and social security for tbe poorest.
Their progress in institutionalizing reform through restructuringinstitutions, further liberalizing the republic constitution, passing laws thatarket economy and democratic principles, giving local elected governments more power over revenues, allocating essential services, and restructuring city councils to overcome Vocal government gridlock.
Their ability to effectively counter the caropaign by the CPSU and the center to discredit them and place obstacles in the way of reform legislation.
Both reformers in power and the democratic parties face serious obstacles and even dangersesult of the central government's turn toward more authoritarian policies. Yel'lsin's victory a( the Congress in early April, however, will facilitate the reformers' unity and persistence- Theability to continue to push through reform measures across the republic will be put to the test during the next Congress, scheduled to begin onay.
Prospects for the Russian Ikmocrttic Reformers '
at tk* Hetm Proerrtae to Date
The (air. of reform in Russia lies with thoseefearraen who were elected to the Russian legitla-lurc and local city councils in the springheir ability to formulate and implement effective programs for reform win be the primary ingredient ibeping proapecu for democratic cheats- Keyat theelm indtidc Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Yd'tsin. Prime Minister Silsyev. and Supreme Soviet Deputy Chairman Kbasbulatov, aa well as prominenteaders sach as Moscow Mayor Popov, Deputy Mayor Stankevich. andMayor Sobcbak. Tbeir goals are to revise the Russian Constitution along democratic lines, past legit la boo that would move the republicarket economy and more autcrtomy from tbe center, and transform tbe republic and local executive,and judiciary bodies, using Western experience as their model.
Vyhag far Power la the Russian Legs.!.
Russian reformers have avoided the fate of their union-level counterparts, who have been demoralized and scattered by Gorbachev's turn to hardliners for support. The most important factor in their favor has been Ycl'tsin, who hasomprehensive reform program,upportive cabinet, ind maneuvered tkiUfuily ia the republic legislature through negotiation, compromise, aad the liekiag of reform to the republic sovereignty issue. Histo factional differences within the legislature and willing neat to ctxmprcenise on some controversialhave allowed him to garner enough support to pass important reform legislation. Dramocraticconstitute roughlyercent of the Russian Congress of People's Deputieslightly smaller percentage of the Supreme Soviet. Despite frequent diirunilons and challenges by traditionalist deputies
during tbe Congress in December. Yd isin. with support from centrist deputies, succeeded in amending over one-fifth of the Russian Constitution, shilling itharply bbcral direction. The legislature approved ameodmenti that assert republic sovereignty, lay the groundwork for eooeteenjc reform, and hberalLrc civil rights. The legislature has also approved bOlt that challenge tbe center's authority over military service, rights to natural resources on Russian territory, and the union budget.
Although reformers in the Russian legislaiarc have shown surprising strength, they stillignificant challenge from traditionalists Deputies from the Comma lusts of Russiaapproximatelyercent cf thesstcooeded tatome key legislation and ia watering down other reformist initiatives. Yd'tsin't candidate for tbe post cf Supreme Soviet deputy chairman was rejected by the Congress in0 and again in December. Tradiiionnlists abo weakened key reform Initiatives,andownershlp law. Ycl'ttin watat the Supreme Soviet session in January when bis attempt totrang Russian rcspoatse to the crackdown in the Baltic republics was narrowlythree times, primarily because of abacas.eeism and tradrticasalbt orapcartaoB. Although YeTuia was snpported by aa overwhelming majority cf thepresent, tbe inability ef reformers to pass an immediate response weakened their creditably and tarniihed the Russian Supreme Scmcl's public imageecisive, reform-minded body-
Reformers regained the momentum toward tho cad of the special Congress in early April Deputiesa margin.baten-taoaa Yefmn't call foris powers and transferring some powers from theto the Supreme Soviet to deal with the crisis situation in the republic. Deputies also approved his proposal to task the Supreme Soviet toaw on
the eaecutivc presidency, rooonvcac tbe Congress to
ratify tbe arnrmdmcnl onay. and to bold a
presidential election onune. The voteajor step forward for Yd'tsln, whose strong core of reform-en was joined by moderate deputies wbo had opposed putting the presidency issue on tbe agenda earlier in the season. The moderatehave voted with Democratic Russia ia the past on tome reform issues but have been wary of Yeltsin"tapparently swayed by the need for decisive action and reassured by ihe limited nature of his plan.
Traditionalists also found themselves in disarray at the Congress. Although tbe Coogrcas was ostensibly called to consider Yeltsin'* ouster, his crpponents were forced to concede that they did not have tbesupport to callo-confidence vote against
him. The hardline Communists of Russia bloc did not come prepared with an alternative program forwith the economic crisis, spent most of Its efforts attacking Yel'tsin. and was racked by growingin its ranks. Furthermore, theyevere blow when Col. Atcksandrember of tbe Russian Supreme Soviet Presidium andComarty Central Committee,tbe formation of an alternate "Cc^runumsts for Democracy" Woe and claimedwere already willing to join.ormal break with Ihe hardline leadenbip of tbe RussianParty, Rottkoy's new bloc declared its support for Yel'tsin and many of his programs.
Rcfeesnars Uader tare Democratic reformerstbe helm of ell* councils have nothe republic leglilature at moving reform forward. The powers of the local ujunati an not cLarly delineated, tod reformer* arc locaedomplicated poUtkal battle with ohlasi-levd orgaruxauooa to exert ccotral. Although reform-ensajority bt aome local ceaneua, they do aot have the execu live power necessary ta Irapie-meut reforms La many admiarstrative areata. Reform-ctiteen stalled fcy their dependence oo tbe pace ef reform set by the centra! govranaancnt and by tha nearly intractable probkans they Inherited from tha old regime. Reform in city council! are afcao dependent on ootait-lcvel bodica that are lUU dominated by CPSU deputies. The oblast officials control many of the essential economic levers, such as tbe dlttribuiloti of housing, jobs, and supplies to enterprises and access to revenue to finance prefects.'
learness bare also been criticised for taking "democracy" too literally by spending lime giving long speeches aad getting caught up indetails. Ia Moscow, Leningrad. Sverdlovsk. Ryaran'. and other cities where democratic reformers control the city councils, reformers and traditionalisti are carryingnedia war in which they blame each other for shortages and increasingomination of the rnedia In local areas puts reformersisadvantage and hinders their ability to present their case andupport base.
Reformist leaders In Moscow and Leningrad have called for tougher measures from all levels cf gewerr*-ment to get through the current economic crisis- la late December, Mayor Sohchak caDed for aon tbe activities of an political parties for aincluding Communist Partyon economic inks. Tbe city councils also seem to be trying to organize themselves more effectively and mimmirx infighting to retain the public's crsnflder.ee. Their tougher rhetoric reflects aoteseriorat-iag situation butrowing dcferuirvesscss in the face cf mounting criticism from Uadttionaliats. Low voter turrsoutunicipal election in Leningrad ino thedisillusionment at tbe local level.
Reformers elected to city councils in outlying areas face even stiller challenges from tbe party apparatus, security organs,arty-controlledirraiumaya tasela article, reformers have even been victims of violent attacks, la Kazan' the headquarters of Democratic Russia was destroyed, and ia Saransk the local chairman of the movement
Officials la Sverdlovsk claim that, alt hough tbadty council ia tbe focus of growing complaints carer empty store ahcrvra, inflation, and crime, Il does aot have tha power loreform. Oty officials claim thai an "antJectcd elite"of the Communist Party, secaurty aprsustus, the military-industrial cororncx. and the executive bureaucracy mil Isolds most cf tbe power. According to jcajrealisi* who have visited the city, residents claim tbe council passes laws that are not implemented, and the public blames lhe democrats. Mayorthat the democrats' current legitimacy crisis stems from the fact that the public expected too much from an inexperienced city government that had to contend with the Ccoxmumst Party, which still has an entrenched presence in the city aad provincial executive committees
An live illy* article oa Ryazan' highlighted friction between Ibe city coundl and oblast party crxmmittccs and their attempts to blame each other for bread shortagce. The snide tided with the reformist city council, pointing out that the executive committee is dependent oa tbe oblast committee and la therefore unable lo carry can decisions made by the council. Ryazan' is taking the initiative to streamline the municipal system, pending the new Russian Republic legislation. Il recently decided to abolish the dty'a executive committee aad combine the peats ofcf the city soviet aad cttsiman of the executive committee Tbe council bag been mtictred heavily by the local Communist Party aeurapapcr. which baa not covered any cf the recent restructuring
Council! la Moscow aad Leningrad
In Moscow reformers hare made Halt progress lo dale Im overcoming obstacles lo their reformist goals. Mayor Popov has claimed Ihat the size ofnwieldy and that iht existing system of governing councils is flawed and mast be changed before major progress can be made. Although reformers In ihe Moscow city councilajority In elections held In tht springt the colast level the deputies are roughly evenly divided between tke democratic reformers and traditionalists. Although Popovairly good working relallon-gktp with Moscow Qty Executive CommllteeYuriy Luzhkov, implementation of councilcan be difficult If conflicting orders come from tht oftlast-levtl leadership, tit an attempt to break tke cycle of Inertia and Inefficiency. Popov In Januaryelaited and radical reorganization of the Moscow city government that would consolidate and strengthen executive power. In late February the Moscow councilet of pHnciples It will champion as the basis for legislation on the status of Moscow ihat overlaps with Popov's proposal but rejects hts concepttrong mayor and weak city council. The council did posehe public In thearch referendum the Questionirectly elected mayor, which passed overwhelmingly
In Leningrad past leaders pretlded over ihe local party structureowerful military-industrial complex. In taking over tke governrnent. Mayor Sobchak acquired virtually no Institutional power
base: his prestige and authority flow directly from hit -public popularity. Sobchak alsoery strained relationship with the Executive Commlltee Chief Aleksandr Shchelkanov. He has been criticizedby tradlllorutllils and reformers within the oily council for his travels abroad, his Inability to follow through on reform proposals, and his preoccupation with national polities at the expense of local Issues. As Leningrad" economic situationublic support continues to decline. His recent tougher rhetoric may be an attempt to assert that he Is taking resolule action lo exert control and lo deflect tome criticism from traditionalists.'
Sobchak has accused the city council ofdo nothing" body, blaming radical reformers forhisa plan to makea fret economic gong. The council has been unable to pass legislation dealing with many of the city's mosl crucial problems Including ihe Iransporio-llon system, transition to market prices, andof housing, primarily because of splits within ihe council. Sobchak'g efforts lo work withbig enterprises, hts calls for restructuring iht local soviet system, and his ailernptt to overcome iht council's "debating club"reputation have met with opposition from reformist deputies who accuse him of trdmpling on democratic values and associating too closely with the center. His strong stance against the center's actions In the Baltic republics, however, may quttt some of his critics for tht snort term.
The New Bumi-llcTbe abihty of ibe Russian dcenccratic movement to moveuties of Individual leaden io create porticiast prxitical bate win altimately determine tbe pact of reform la the republic and In the USSRhole. Many of Ruiuil derxsocrati-calry ones led mcwcmenU have In Ihe past few mam hi formed flirty cohesive parties, coalesced in Woes, held congresses, and published acilon programs. Three of
the largest Russian democratic partiesajor step toward gaining legliimacy by resjiWertnt with the Russian Justice Ministry In mid-March. Tbe parties face an uphill battle lo cwucorne limited popular Mcntirlcaiion with partlea and voter apathy thai has grown ai the euphoria surrounding elections in the spring0 has worn off and ecemomlc conditions haw continued to worsen. The democratic parties, however, were galvanized into action by ihearch
referendum and rallied enough public support lo bold Ihe largest prcdecKcracy. and pro- YeTtiin.to dale onarch- Yel'uirTi rnydcescrncnt of the needtrong democratic party in his address to Democratic Ruaalaarch will also help Ihe parties overcome public apathy. The aeeso-cratic parlies laceimed is le task of orgaruting their saipcoticr* and sympathiser* wbo have been elected tn office, so ihey can affect current legislation. The parties'possibly mostrt preparing for new elections in order to stack the local conndb and republic legislature with reformat deputies.
Three primary parties bare emerged from the prolif-cration of new parties ia tbe Russian Republic: the Rcirici" Party of Ruaala. the Republican Party of the Russianthe Democratic Platform faction ihat left the CPSU butthe Social Democrats. The Democrat* Party has proclaimed iu goal as the "consolidation of allforce* on the hub of struggle for Iheouster of the power of the CPSU apparatus at elections, in the congress, and la the supreme and localThe Republican Party has called for the resigns lion of the central government, iuwith an interrepublic commit!ce, aad thedirect election of the president of the USSR.
Tbe slated goal of the Social Derriocrau Is tothe USSRarlismenury dcrrtocracyree, market economic system, while protecting society from the eatreme dislocation* of such a
The platforms of meat of the democratic parties, including tbe largest three,ide spectrum of position* oa reform but support the following general prntilsons:
free market econceny and private owsterthip. although Ihe Social DrrnocraU advocate strong mecb*nbms to protect the poor daring tha iranai-lion period.
a The 'deepening of democraticncluding the direct dectioa of the president of the USSR.
Tbe removal of the Communist Party apparatus from the armedhe KGB. aad the Interior Ministry.
viewnion based on voluatary partie-!patron of acwercagn republic* that cede limited rights lo the central government.
Party membership remain* relatively small The Deasweratk Party0 members, the Hend lha Social0 None of these claims can be verified Soviet polling data suggeste pubtic does not Identify strongly with any panic*tar party and may even be averse to ihe concept of formal parties because of the negative Image of the CPSU
The new panics have bom plagued by internalover alleged aMidcrnexxatac practices aad daf-fercr.ee* over interval procedure. Traditionalists have seiged on the theme of aniidctnocrauc practices In their picas and have used it to discredit tbe parties Some partiesigid structure and party discipline similar to Ihat of Ihe Communiti Party In curler lo combat the influence of the CPSU. Carreat nod former members of the Devnocratic Party of Russis have accused iu leader, Nikcaay Travkin, of conducting party business In aa undemocraticand others have characterized him as dictatorial and authoritarian
More thanlerrtocratic parties andincluding the largest threecoalescedajor umbrella movement, Democratic Russia, whose members act as reformist voting blocs within local councils as well as In the republic legislature. The movement has articulated an openlyplatform since its formal creation Inrkadiy Morashcv, the chairman of its organi-mtional committee, recently stated that the most important task of theo promote the adoptionew Russian Constitution that would put an end to the sodaeriod of Russian history and neutralize the "ruinous activity of the Communist imperialemocratic Russia's leaders include [imminent members of the Interregional Deputies Group in the USSR legislature such ai historian Yuriy Afanas'ycv and Mayor Popov.
Democratic Russia's leadership is grapplingio expand its membership beyond intellectualslarger cities. It claimed in Januaryctive members, god itspublishities across the republic. Although tbehas local affiliate! throughout Russia, itsseems to be fairly shallow outside theIts an il-CPSU stance has enabled theto rally support for derzicnatraticets, bat itsviabilitycrriocratic challenge to thedepend on its ability to appeal lo broaderThe traditionalist press has been pityingpublic's fears of economic decline,policies as leading to tbe breakup ofmassive unemployment, and increasingAfanas'ycv recently told
that tbe traditionalists had succeeded in convincing the public that the CPSU was more coo corned with stability and social security than were the reformers.
Democratic Russia is also trying to increase its strength by esubUshlng Bolt* across republic borders. Most of its six cochairmen attended ibe founding la Kharkov in January of the Democraticoalition of democratic parties and movements from
epublics dedicated to opposing the CPSU'sdominance. The organization's immediate goal was tooint course of actionapo use to the center's potides in the Baltic region. Democratic Russia's role lo the meeting, however, was weakened when the leader of tbe Russian Democratic Party withdrew his partidpaiion because Ihe Congress voted to reject his view that individual rights should take precedence over support for republic sovereignly movements. This issue of individual rights versus republic sovereignly is likely to continue hindering interrepublic coalition building, driving wedgesreformers in Russia and those in the non-Slavic republics, as well as between Russian minorities and the predominant ethnic groups in the other republics.
Democratic Russia and other political parties hare been handicapped by the continued refusal of populnj politicians such as Yel'tsin. Popov, and Sobchak lo join any political party. Without such leaden, the democratic panics have considerably less clout to rally popular support for dcmonslratiocs, strikes, or longer-term goals of decting reformist legislators. Popov has been active in the Democratic Russia movement, but has notarty.
Yd'tsin, however, bas cooperated more closely with Democratic Russia in tbe past few months on issues that rally considerable public support.
ei'iain agreed lo meet with Democratic Russia leaders to coordinate responses to the center's establishment ol joint MVD/nulitary patrols in major dtiesebruary. His endorsement of tbe needtrong democratic partyarch will boost support for the democratic parlies, but YcTtsin is unlikely to formally join an established party since be does not want to narrow bb support base and risk alienating moderates In the legislature. He wiH, however, cooper-ale more dcwlv with the democratic rocwements in the future
Many ot* ibc new parties Hill lack the repubticwide organisational itructnre aad media access to combat cfTe:!cl) the steiped-up elTons by tb<. Communist Party and traditionalists at tbe center to discredit them. Personal antagonisms among party leaders, differing views oo building party membership aad party discipline, sad disagree menu over degrees of radicalism have slanted tbe pa/tics' ability to transform themselves Into viable elicrnatires to lhe CPSU. Soviet public Opinion polls abo indicateiable part ef the general populace iup-pcets democratic Ideals aad may be willing to vote for reformist candidates la local electrons, rrusch cf the population bt not eager loksin formal political parties.
The centers use of force in the Baltic region.call foe Gorbachev's resignation, and the IT March referendum appear lo have given new impetus toioali ration and cooperation of parties within Democratic Russia and to the submersion cfand operational differences within the parties. Fcslcrwing the crackdown Democratic Russia immed,-atdy declared itself to be "in political Opposition to tac course being pursued by President Gorbachev and ibe USSRnd It organized mass dem-onstrailons against the use cf force la Lithuania. The crackdown also seemed to provide Ibe catalyst for the Democratic Party to finally cfficiari} join theRussia mcwemeaL The strong reaction from reformers may have caused the crater to refrain from escalating the crackdown. Democratic Russia took lhe load la organizing msative pro-Yd'tiiaand in urging the public to vote "no" for the anion Question on the referendum aad vote "yes" forussian rsreskdency
The Center fights Back
The center hasumber of steps designed to co-opt, divide, and dacredit the new political parties and reformers in power. Most significant hasampaign In national and local traditionalist media that misrepresents reformers' positions, blames them
forhonages and increases in crime, accuses them of economic sabotage, and portrays local councilsby reformers as inept. Under the new law on public associations, acw parties must submiton ihdr aims,-membership, structure, and the addresses cf party leaders. Tho law gives tbe Justice Ministry the right to request all documents connected with the activities of tbe party and lo attend their meetiegs The Ministry also setpecialfor liaison with the new registered parties "i*
Reactionaries la the Communist Party and alto in the KGB appear to have orchestrated tbe creationewLiberal Democratican affiliated coalition of groups called the centrist bloc ia to effort to tipboa rapport from the democratic parties aad portray popular support for tbe regime's increasingly authoritarian rolidcs. Although theplatform of the party appeared tonderaie, iu roost reccot statements and activities pointarked tbift to tbe right. The centrist banc has called for the establishment of national salvation coenmit-ices, for presidential rule la the Baltic republics, and, as early astate of emergency in the entire USSR. Tbe center originally gave the bloc positive attention in the media and playedoe meeting with Prime Minister Ryihkov lastia which VUdimir Zbiriaeyvtkiy, chairman cf lhe Liberal Dcrrtocratic Party, and outspoken hardliner Viktor Alkanis of Soyui were involved]
GB Chairman met with representatives from the centrist Woe la earlyespoused support for the union treaty. Tbe bloc, however, failed to gain any legitimacy and the center may have decided to let it die. Members of the bloc met in late March and dedarcd It defunct.
Russia's democratic reformers face chalkngcs in the coming motiihs from an increasingly frustrated publicore hostile and aggressive center, but pros-pecu for reform at tbe republic level arc cautiously positive, especially since reformers won thearch referendum calling for the creationirectly elected republic presidency and the Congress actune for the presidential election.
Theeightened eipectatioos after thewere first elected in the spring0 have been dampened by worsening shortages and political insta> bility. The brunt of public criticism until early this year fell on central and oblastsiill under control of the oldon thehe shadow economy, and the remaining clout of ihe party, Recent public opinion polls,indicate growing disillusionment with currentpoliticians and disappointment with the new
political parties andoll taken in January by tbe Russian Republic legislature's public opinion subcommittee indicated that the popularity of the three largest democratic parties declined in the period from0 tohe Democratk Party's support fell fromo IS percent, the Social Democratic Party's fell fromercent, and the Christian Democrats remained atercent. If the city councils continue to give Ihe imprcsrion of wasting time on minor details, reformist city leaders will face increasing blame for downturns in'the local economy
There is no evidence yet that the publicore attractive alternative to tbe democratic reformers Or that it has reversed Ks negative image of theationwide poll taken in February by the relatively
National Center for Public' owed that, even though deterioratingconditions topped tbe public's Ibt of worries,ercent of rcipondents believed lhat the country needs democracy, while5 percent believed that the country needs an "ironeltsin consistently comes In first In popularity polls, albeit at slightly lower levels than last year.
To overcome tbe present obstacles and move reform forward, tbe democrats face some fctrnidablc tasks. Their progress can be measured oo three primary
To overcome toter apathy and garner public support for reform candidates when and if new elections are held, the eeutocratic parties and reformers arc trying to go beyond intKI'SU rhetoric and developthat address the basic concerns of thedistribution, unemployment, safety ofand social security for the poorest. This ia espeeiilly important because the CPSU is portraying itself as the protector of the working class and the reformers as tbe instigators of economic chaos. Popov has stated (hat the democratic movement most appeal to two groups: those committed to the transitionarket economy and those whose interests are not defended by the torrent regime, including pensioners, workers hurt by the conversion of defense industries to nonmilitary production, and military officers. Aof the Republican Party staled last November that the main precept the new parties must keep in mind is that their job is not to promise to give food and clothes to the people but to change the institutions to enable people to buy their own food and clothes. Their job is also to convince the public that they are doing this eHeetivelj
Toie reform, the democrats In power are trying to restructure fenerooenta! processes.in the republic legislature will push to revise the remaining sections of the Russian Constitution along reformist lines, pass laws that would movearket economy and derrsocraticend pass laws that would give local elected governments more power over revenues, essentialand restructuring the system of councils. The legislature's ability to continue to push through
reform measures across tbe republic will be put to the lest dnring the nest Congress, scheduled to begin onay. Unlike the April Congress, which was deeniaatcd by political battles, reformers most tackle key reform Issues in May as wefj as poshtrong presidencyhe Constitution Unlike the Congress la December and January, when Ycl'tsin was surprised when he failed to win some key votes. Yeltsin will probably attempt to line up tbe necessary lupport before bringing key issuesote
At the local level. Ibe Russian Republic legislature is currentlyaw on councils designed io give tbe popularly electedirm legal basts and more control over bwldiag their own tax bete. Members of the drafting cceami tlee told
thai thearry to include many ot >ne pomes ia the Mcacow council's rsropoaal for restructuring use Moscow city- primarily strengthening tbe council's authority over economic, administrative, and cultural decisions In tome cases, however, reformers may risk setting back "deiivprocesses in order to make the councib more -" lent. Reformers in Leningrad and Moscow have called for ttrearrdinistg tbe size of the councils and strcngibcning the powers of tbeBut, by ttrcagthening the executiveprimarily Ibc powers of therisk weakening Ibc powers of elected conaetlt. Plans that strengthen ibc executive structure under the current system may abo hurt prospects for reform ifscross the republic, since ia many local areas, councilsigh proportion of reformers still have traditionalist mayors. This would change if other cities follow Moscow's lead in holding refecendums on creating directly elected mayoral positions
A. third test for reformers la their ability ta eflectlrety counter Ihe catnpalgv by (be CPSU aad the coster lo Citeirdii Cheat and place obstacles bt the way of reform legislation. Both reformers ia perwer aad Ihe deenocttlk parties will face serious oUtarjetesult of the central government'i tura toward more authoritarian policies The renewed asscrdvcncsi of the Russian Communist Party and lhe more reslrio-
Mcocsrwi Council Structure: The Problem' of Democracy
Witt, thtir takeover of the Mot cow etty council Inemocratic reformer! tit out toihe cityodel of democracy and ecorvMtt-lc reform that could be held up at an example for the rest of the country. The reformers'goal was to transform the council, whick had previously operated as tke party's rubberstamp.enuinebody. The inertia caused by the uitvrltldy site of the councils and lack of experience In formulating comprehensive reform plans have contributed tothat what Moscow needs Insteadtrong executive to deal with ihe acute economic problems the dty facts. The city council alone It composedeputies, and Moscow has overayon-level councilso ISO members each.'
Popov's proposal In fanuoryfor restructuring ihe council system would concentrate power In the handsirectly elected mayoruch smaller city-level 'municipalhe municipal council would be elected by the cityto only one or more meetings awouldas the city's primary legislative organ. His proposal would also streamline district-levelreducing the numberolicymaking roll In the city government. Both traditionalist and more radical reform deputies in the council nave resisted changes It thg council system. Radical reformers accused him of curtailing the democratic process by diminishing the powers of the council, and ihetr subsequent proposal for restructuring ihe system retained the size and powers of the dty council. Popov, ruywever,ublic mandate In thearch referendumopularly elected mayor.
live media environment will hinder Democraticability to sustain the momentum it sained after tbe crackdown in the Baltic republics. The parties will also have difficulty attracting new members,in outlying areas where the media are stillprimarily by the CPSU
Reformers are trying to increase tbeir control over the media in order to counterist criticism, publicize accomplishments, and endorse reformand platforms for future elections. Republic ceTicHab have continued efforts to ensure theof tbeir media from the center. These efforts have concentrated on ncouiring the money, expertise, and equipment necessary to run republic print and broadcast media. The Russian Republic reportedlyty and oblsst newspapersnes over the past year. Although the center has cut the air time of the republic's re-Coi mist program Radio Rossli byercent and relegated itrequency that cannot be received throughout the Russianit continues to transmit reformist news and editorials and actrxmterwrigbt to centraluna bashed antidemocratic stance. Members of the Russian legislature arc discussing the feasibility of setting up an independent radio and televisioninfrastructure, but one republic cffidal eatimated it would cost theillion rubles just for radio.
Democratic Russia and the new political parties will also continue to hold large-scale demonstrations to sustain their momentum and build local partyin tbe provinces. Without high-visibilitythe parties will not be able to combat the stiff media campaign against them. Democratic Russia was instrumental in organizing pro-Yd'tsinto counter the barrage of criticism Yd'tsia faced after his call for Gorbachev's resignation and, before thearch referendum, largethroughout Russia calling for tbe public to vote "yes" for the republic presidency. The democrats' party organizations in outlying areas may aboefforts to combat the center's accusations by publicizing thdr own agendas and by eioosingpractices of local CPSU leaders
Reformers al tbe republic level are trying to increase tbdr support within tbe miliury and securityto bolster ibdr positionis ibe center. Yd'tsln has already sought to limit the center's ability to use force against his republic by insisting thai
Russia hat the right to participate in military policy ddiberatrons because it contributes the lion's share of tbe national military budget. He has also pushedepubh'c-kvel KGB. The legislature recentlyesolution calling for republic leaders to be included on the national Defense Council.
The passage of the republic's proposal toopularly elected Russian presidencyatershed event for reformers in Russia and the union. Ydisin's immediate task is to get th+ Supreme Soviet to draft an amendment that givestrong presidency and then to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority when the Congress reconvenes. He must keep up popular pressure on the Congress from the miners and Other supporters and also -ir over centrist deputies, perhaps by compromising on tbe powers he seeks for the new post. Yd'tsin't victory lairectly elected presidency will also bolster support for new rswBarnentary dections that would probably resulture reformist Congress. He has already called for new elections for leadership posts of local councils lo follow the presidential election
In cxerdsing his new powers over tbe coming weeks, Ycl'tsin will try to reassure potential supporters in the Congress that he can handle power ropomibJy. while dcrrsonstrating that with his new authority he can improve Russia's economic performance. He Is likely to focus on less controversial, high-risibility issues sttoh as the distribution of garden plots called for in land reform legislation passed last December but delayed in implementation.
If Yd'tsin wins tbe prcs idency-^rtich is likely at thisbattle with Gorbachev and the center will probably intensify. He will undoubtedly use his new position to push even more assertively for radical economic reform programs and Russian sovereignty. The center will also step up iu campaign to discredit him although some local Communist Party officials areore sophisticated approach instead of direct attacks on Yd'lsin. which they believe are backfiring in many areas. The center will most likdyOriginal document.