Democratization in Russia: The Development of Legislative Institutions

Democratization in Russia: The Development of Legislative Institutions

Democratization in Russia: The Development of Legislative Institutions

Democratization in Russia: The Development of Legislative Institutions

Synopsis

The development of Russian democracy has been a gradual process of maturation punctuated by dramatic events. This text examines events such as the first free elections, the Russian parliament's resistance to the 1991 coup, and the bloody confrontation with the military in 1993.

Excerpt

The genesis of this book can be traced to a conference held at the faculty club of Harvard University on October 29-31, 1993. The theme of the conference was to consider the prospects for democracy in Russia by focusing on the development of its legislative institutions at the local and national levels. The conference itself represented the culmination of a four-year research project begun in 1990 and involving American and Russian scholars, which was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The first and second sessions of the conference were devoted to reports by the principal participants in this project of their findings related to legislative development in Russia on the national and on the local level, respectively. The third session, however, was given to a roundtable discussion among the fifty or so specialists who had been invited to the conference and who were asked to comment on the findings presented earlier. These included not only experts in Russian studies, but political scientists from the field of legislative studies (a list of conference participants is appended). The goal of the third session was to explore how findings from the Russian case could be integrated into broader concerns of comparative political theory.

The organizers of the conference had no way of knowing that a few weeks before the date set for the meeting, Russian president Boris Yeltsin would abolish Russia's legislative institutions (then called "soviets," or councils). As it happened, on September 21, 1993, he dissolved the national parliament, the Supreme Soviet, and in early October he permanently suspended the authority of the local soviets.

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