Economic Reform In Russia Essay

1304 words - 5 pages

Economic Reform in Russia

Formerly the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Russia has been an independent nation since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Because of its great size, its natural resources, and its political domination, the Russian Federation played a leading role in the economy of the Soviet Union. In the years preceding the disintegration of the union in 1991, the economy of Russia and the union as a whole was in decline. In 1992, immediately after the separation, the Russian government implemented a series of radical reforms. Price controls were abolished as the beginning of a transition from a centrally controlled economy to a market economy. An immediate series of sharp price increases caused extreme hardships for the Russian people. Inventor of the fictional five-year plan, the fake harvest, Russia introduced another novel economic concept in 1996. It was a society modeled after the capitalist society. High expectations of economic growth even with “shock therapy”--unemployment, social discontent and opportunities for corruption; influence of western politicians and the U.S. policy; and failing to completely reform the communistic system were some factors to why some became rich but led many to misery and an early death. Despite the huge infusions of Western money, millions of ordinary Russians struggled to survive in an economy neither capitalist nor communist, but something brand new and strange, which ultimately led to the failure of economic reform in Russia.

In the fall of 1996, Boris Yeltsin won the presidential election in Russia. He was viewed as the personification of reform in Russia.... who had vanquished the Communist dragon during the hard-line coup attempt of August 1991 -- and the leader best placed to introduce democratic, market-oriented reforms. In the same year Yeltsin became the President of Russia, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Thomas R. Pickering, predicted by the fall of 1999, Russia would be one of America’s top trading partners. But in fact, three years after Pickering addressed his farewell speech to the American Chamber of commerce in Moscow, Russia ranked thirtieth in the list of American trading partners. In 1998, Russia’s gross national product plummeted by nearly fifty percent over the last decade. More than sixty million Russians, which is nearly half of the population, lived below a very low official poverty line. A steep fall in prices of their natural resources --oil, gas and gold consequently led to reducing both the export revenues and tax collection in Russia. Almost an article of faith for Russian reformers and their Western supporters, an assumption made was that Russia's salvation lay in tight monetary discipline, rapid economic liberalization and a massive privatization program. According to Richard E. Rawles, head of the Russian Psychology Research Unit, in University College London, western financial institutions were unaware...

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