Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State

By Eugene Huskey | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Eugene Huskey

By the summer of 1991, Gorbachev's policies of glasnost' and demokratizatsiia had fundamentally transformed the central institutions of the Communist Party and the Soviet legislative system. But the central executive institutions of state, known collectively as the Government (pravitel'stvo), remained largely unreconstructed. The Government's vast network of ministries and state committees, which had always functioned as the institutional core of the Soviet political and economic system, continued to employ the population, to administer the economy and society, and to function as a key source of information and influence in the shaping of policy. The reforms of the Gorbachev era revealed that remaking the party's "power over words" was easier than remaking the Government's "power over things." 1

The Government became, in effect, the last line of defense against a new order. In August 1991, leading members of the Government launched a coup to reassert executive authority amid the decline of the Communist Party and the rise of social movements and independent-minded legislatures. Although support for the coup came from conservative elements in party and legislative bodies as well as officials in the machinery of Government, it was the Government's Cabinet of Ministers that served as the coup's "general staff." Ranking members of the Government emerged as the central figures in the short-lived junta, the State Committee for Extraordinary Events. Standing behind the junta's constitutional prop, Vice-President Gennadii Yanaev, were the prime minister, Valentin Pavlov, the minister of defense, Dmitrii Yazov, the minister of internal affairs ( MVD), Boris Pugo, and the head of the Committee on State Security ( KGB), Vladimir Kriuchkov. The failure of the coup crippled the Government's economic and repressive institutions, which had given cohesion to the Soviet

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Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xiii
  • The State in Imperial Russia and the Ussr 1
  • 1: The Government in the Soviet Political System 3
  • 2: Party-State Relations 49
  • 3: Executive-Legislative Relations 83
  • Notes 98
  • 4: The Rise of Presidential Power Under Gorbachev 106
  • The State and the Economy 127
  • 5: The Ministry of Finance 129
  • 6: The Industrial Ministries 143
  • 7: The Agricultural Ministries 161
  • The State and Security 179
  • 8: The Ministry of Defense 181
  • 9: The Ministry of Internal Affairs 202
  • 10: The Administration of Justice: Courts, Procuracy, and Ministry of Justice 221
  • The State and the Future 247
  • 11: The Rebirth of the Russian State 249
  • Index 271
  • Contributors 281
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