Regional Perspectives on Human Rights: The USSR and Russia, Part Two

Since 1991, there have been two major phases in Russian history, corresponding roughly to the decades of the 1990s and the 2000s.  Under President Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), Russia attempted a rapid transition to a market economy and liberal democracy.  Economic “shock therapy,” the transition from a planned and centralized economy to a privatized market economy in one leap, proved to be traumatic for most of the population of the Russian Federation.  On the positive side, these initial years of post-Soviet Russia saw the creation of a new system of laws, a dramatic rise in political participation, the birth of new human rights institutions at the national level, and the establishment of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  Yet, the political transition, liked the economic one, proved to be very turbulent, perhaps inevitably in a situation where a country with Russia’s authoritarian past attempts to introduce a multi-party democracy.  The country’s political culture seemed a poor fit for its new democratic constitution.