The Soviet System: From Crisis to Collapse

By Alexander Dallin; Gail W. Lapidus | Go to book overview

53 Speech to the RSFSR
Congress of People's Deputies
and to the Citizens of Russia,
October 28, 1991

BORIS YELTSIN

... The present time is one of the most critical moments in Russian history. It is now that the future of Russia and of the country as a whole in the years and decades to come is being decided. We must unreservedly embark on a path of thoroughgoing reforms, in which the support of all strata of the population is needed. The time has come to adopt the main decision and to begin to act. Specific measures for carrying out a package of reforms have now been worked out. The situation in Russia is difficult, but it is not hopeless. There is no reason for panic. The period of moving in small steps is over. The field for reforms has been cleared of mines. There is a unique opportunity to stabilize the economic situation over several months and to begin the process of improving that situation. Under conditions of political freedom, we must provide economic freedom, lift all barriers to the freedom of enterprises and entrepreneurship, and give people the opportunity to work and to receive as much as they can earn, casting off bureaucratic constraints. However, given the extremely acute crisis, it will not be possible to conduct the reforms painlessly.

If we embark on this path today, we will obtain real results by the autumn of 1992.

...

The most important, most decisive actions will have to be taken in the sphere of the economy. The first area is economic stabilization. It will be based on a tough monetary, financial and credit policy, a tax reform and the strengthening of the ruble. But the most painful measure will be a one-time unfreezing of prices in the current year.

The second area is privatization and the creation of a healthy mixed economy with a powerful private sector. Giving greater dynamics to land reform and creating a fundamentally new situation in the agrarian sector by the spring of 1992 are of special significance for Russia.

Free prices are to be an instrument of production growth, something that will put a limit on price increases in the future. Moreover, Russia is a traditional supplier of raw-material resources to the other republics. In the present confused sit

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