Perestroika From Below: Social Movements In The Soviet Union 0813380685

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Perestroika from Below

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Perestroika from Below Social Movements in the Soviet Union


Judith B. Sedaitis and Jim Butterfield

Westview Press BO U LD ER



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This Westview softcover edition is printed on acid-free paper and bound in library-quality, coated covers that carry the highest rating of the National Association of State Textbook Administrators, in consultation with the Association of American Publishers and the Book Manufacturers’ Institute. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval System, without permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © 1991 by Westview Press, Inc. Published in 1991 in the United States of America by Westview Press, Inc., 5500 Central Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80301, and in the United Kingdom by Westview Press, 36 Lonsdale Road, Summertown, Oxford 0 X 2 7E W

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Perestroika from below : social movements in the Soviet Union / edited by Jndith B. Sedaitis and Jim Butterfield. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8133-8068-5 1. Social movements— Soviet Union. 2. Perestroika. 3. Soviet Union— Poiitics and government— 1985. 4. Pressure groups— Soviet Union. I. Sedaitis, Judith B. II. Butterfield, jim , 1955. H N 523.5.P44 1991 3 0 3 .4 8 '4 '0 9 4 7 — dc20

Printed and bound in the United States of America [OO)

The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z 39.48-1984.











91-13389 C IP

Mano tevéliams Emmi ir George Sedaitis and

to Sarah Butterfield, who wonders why her father spends so much time in front of the Computer

Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2015

Contents Acknowledgments About the Contributors

ix xi

1 T h e Emergence of Social Movements in the Soviet Union, Jím Butterfield and Judith B. Sedaitis 2

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots,

Judith B. Sedaitis 3


Worker Activism: T h e Role of the State,

Russell Bova 4


Politica! Mobilization in the Russian Countryside: Creating Social Movements from Above,

Don Van Atta


5 T h e Prospects for a Soviet Womens Movement: Opportunities and Obstacles, Carol Nechemias 6

Perestroika for Women, Laurie Essig and Tatiana Mamonova

1 Environmental Politics and Policy under Perestroika, Charles E. 7Jegler 8







T h e Greening of Ukraine: Ecology and the Emergence of Zelenyi svit, 1 9 8 6-1990, David R. Marples


T h e First Independent Soviet Interest Groups: Unions and Associations of Cooperatives, Darrell Slider


Nationalism, Movement Groups, and Party Formation, Paul A. Goble



Contents 11


Unofficial Social Groi^ps and Regime Response in the Soviet Union, Jim ButterfieFd

and Mareia Weigle


Social Movements and Civil Society in the Soviet Union, Andrew A rato


Acknowledgments O n November 28, 1989, the Nationalities and Siberian Studies Program of the W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union held its first Symposium on Social Movements in the Soviet Union. T h e gathering brought together many scholars of various disciplines to discuss this newly important phenomenon and in so doing provided the inspiration for this book. T h e editors are especially grateful to Professor Alexander J. Motyl, Director of the Nationalities and Siberian Studies Program, for his dynamic encouragement and helpful advice, without which this project would not have come to fruition. In addition, we would like to thank Professor Robert Legvold, Director of the Harriman Institute, for his unflagging support of the Nationalities and Siberian Studies Program, and the Mellon Foundation for having made the Program possible. W e. also thank the Department of Political Science at Western Michigan University for various forms of logistical support. Finally, Rebecca Ritke of Westviews editorial staff is deserving of our gratitude for the professionalism of her advice and the patience with which she dealt with two novice editors.

Judith B. Sedaitis New York, NY Jim Butterfield Kalamazoo, M í


About the Contributors Andrew Arato is Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York. He has published extensively on civil society and Eastern Europe, and his newest book, Civil Society and Political Theory, co-authored with Jean Cohen, is forthcoming. Russell Bova is Associate Professor of Political Science at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and has written on workers and on the relation of the Soviet military to reform. Jim Butterfield is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, M I, and has published articles on agricultural policy and on social movements in the Soviet Union. Laurie Essig is a graduate student in the Harriman Institute for Advanced Study o f the Soviet Union at Columbia University in New York. She has written on military conversion and disarmament and has published numerous articles on Soviet gender issues. Paul A. Goble is Special Assistant for Soviet Nationality and Baltic Àffairs for the Department of State in Washington, D C . He has published regularly in Radio Libertys Report on the USSR. Tatiana Mamonova is Scholar-in-Residence at the C U N Y Graduate Center in New York. She was ousted from the Soviet Union for her feminist agitation, which included the publication of the samizdat journal Women and Rússia. She has published Women and Rússia (1984) and Russian Womens Studies: Sexism in Soviet Culture (1989). David R. Marples is Director of the Program for the Study of Contemporary Ukraine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. He is the author of

The Social Impact o f the Chernohyl Disaster (1988) and Ukraine under Perestroika (1991).

Carol Nechemias is a professor in the Department of Public Affairs at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg and has published articles on Soviet regional development and social policy, including housing and consumer welfare. Judith B. Sedaitis is a graduate candidate in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University in New York. She edited a special issue of Nationalities Papers on the issue of Soviet social movements. Darrell Slider is Associate Professor of International Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, F L . He has written extensively on political and XI


About the Contributors

economic reform and is the-^ditor of and a contributor to the forthcoming anthology,

Elections and Political Change in the Sòviet Republics. Don Van Atta is Assistant Professor of Government at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. He has published numerous articles on Soviet agrarian policy Mareia Weigle is Assistant Professor of Government and Legal Affairs at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, M E . She has published chapters and articles deaíing with Soviet political reform and comparative polities in Western Europe. Charles E . Ziegler is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville and has authored Environmental Policy in the USSR (1987, 1990) and several monographs.


The Emergence of Social Movements in the Soviet Union Jim Butterfield and Judith B. Sedaitis

One of the outstanding characteristics of perestroika and glasnost, the twin policies introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev shortly after his selection as General Secretary of the Communist Party in May 1985, has been the rise of social movements. They are particularly notable considering that most forms of autonomous social expression had been ruthlessly suppressed since the dark days of the Stalinist period.1 Social movements have come to occupy virtually every position on the political spectrum, and by 1990 have wrested policy initiative avvay from Gorbachev and the reformist leadership that produced the conditions within which the move­ ments were spawned. Today they define much of the policy making agenda and virtually the entire scope of political discussion, offering many different perspectives on the development of reform, including the demise of the Soviet Union as we know it. Social movements started with a trickle of group activity in the two vears that followed Gorbachev s April 1985 announcement of reformist policy departures. By the summer of 1987, the number and variety of “ informal” groups were burgeoning.2 By the beginning of 1988 one offhand estimate put their number at 3 0 ,0 0 0 ;3 a year later the estimate had risen to 6 0 ,0 0 0 .4 W hile neither of these estimates could be confirmed, given the absence of scientifically gathered data, and many groups formed, fiourished, and disappeared with regularity, the scope and growth of group activity is still impressive by any historical standard, especially considering the challenge it poses to traditional policy-making patterns. T h e groups are most notable because they have stood outside the official process of political participation, at least for most of the duration of the emergent phase of 1 9 8 7-1989 that this volume covers. Groups have nonetheless been successful at mounting an “ insurgency” into both the agenda-setting process and the policymaking process, often co-opting official organizations or even supplanting them with alternative, more independent structures.5 Impinging on both these processes 1


Perestroika from Below

from the margins, they have already been influential across a wide range of issues important in Soviet politics tpday, from economic reform to ecological preservation and national relations. By 1990, the emergence phase of spontaneous, informal politics had come to an end. In the first four months of that year, elections were held at the local, regional and republic leveis involving millions of candidates for public office. Unlike the first competitive elections in 1989, this election campaign saw movement groups attack electoral politics with vigor. By this time, the nature of their activities and organization had changed. Whereas previously, collective action had frequently taken the form of emotional, often spontaneous demonstrations, by 1990 the political experience gained in the initial phase was reflected in more rational, planned action. Movement groups gathered and disseminated information, usually by means of their own publications, and their strategic decision-making became more sophisticated. They developed their own platforms, ran or supported candidates for office, and offered policy alternatives to decision-makers at all leveis, sometimes even supporting lobbies in Moscow. T h e degree to which they had developed organizational complexity, the increasing sophistication of their tactics, and the routinization of their participation in the political process marked the end of the emergence phase.

Prelude to Civic Participation W hat brought about the dramatic rise in social movement activity? W hat conditions changed that permitted, and indeed, induced their appearance? It must be noted from the start that what didn t change, for the most part, were the issues involved. T h e grievances expressed by the social movements five years into

perestroika were long-standing. First, the dissident movement of the late-1960s to the early-1980s contained in one form or another the themes that social movements have addressed since the advent of perestroika. Andrei Sakharov and other members of the various Helsinki human rights groups championed liberalization of social expression and Western-style participation. T h e socialist legality movement, of which Vladimir Bukovsky was the most famous activist, called for the rule of law in the wake of the famous dissent trials of the mid- to late-1960s. Roy Medvedyevs attempt to publicize Stalins abuses and crimes predated by almost two decades the widespread public discussion of Stalinism that became one of the first topics of the glasnost era. T h e Russian nationalist movement has espoused many of the ideais contained in the political writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Gender issues were raised in the late seventies by, among others, Tatiana Mamonova, one of the contributors to this volume, who was pushed into exile for her efforts. Finally, during the dissent era many nationalists from the Baltic, Ukrainian, Belorussian and Caucasian republics were repressed; their claims differed little from the nationalist movements of these republics in the late 1980s. T h e only new issue

The Emergertce o f Social Movements


that came to light was the state of the environment, and it too was not truly a new issue, but one that received no public attention during the Brezhnev years. Secondly, evidence of mounting problems during the “era of stagnation ’ came from the growth of the shadow economy.6 As products became increasingly scarce on the shelves of State Stores, they became available on the black market. Indeed, the most important household consumer goods, including non-staple food products, shoes, gasoline, automotive spare parts, and materiais for household repair, could be obtained much more easily through “channels” than in the state Stores. In the Stores, lines increased in length as high-quality goods appeared less often. T h e problems with availability and quality of consumer products directly contributed to a third issue, the extent of cvnicism and apathy that Soviets heíd regarding their own social System. This could be seen in the political jokes that were widely circulated; it could also be witnessed frequently in direct conversation with Soviet citizens. It was not only the lack of consumer goods that contributed to the cynicism, but the unrelenting propaganda to the contrary. T h e Soviet media consistently claimed that Soviet production leveis and living standards were increasing. Every autumn, television would be replete with footage of the harvest, with proclamations of how the grain harvesters of one region or another were fulfilling and over-fulfilling the plan. Yet consumers could see the real results in daily shopping trials. This “gap between words and deeds” as it has come to be called, -frustrated the population.7 Another similar source of cynicism was the staged elections. Voters were encouraged, enticed, and sometimes intimidated into turning out at 9 9 + percent leveis each election in order to cast a ballot (usually dropped into a box unmarked, signifying a “yes” vote) for a single, regime-selected candidate. By the time Gorbachev came to office the population had a very cynical view of Soviet politics, and in fact it took some time before they were willing to accept Gorbachev as a proponent of genuine reform.

The Gorbachev Era Opportunity Structure Thus, the discontent that was to erupt into widespread social movement activity was long-standing and was, for the most part, not new to the Gorbachev era.8 W hat is unique to the Gorbachev era is the opportunity to express discontent virtually without fear of retribution. T h e structure of opportunity came in two stages: the first was the advent of glasnost, and the second was the institution of competitive elections. Glasnost

Glasnost was introduced as part and parcel of perestroika in the months following Gorbachev s selection as Party leader. In a series of Party meetings and public speeches, he indicated that society and economy had stagnated and that there must be an acceleration (uskorenie— a “slogan word" which for some time


Perestroika from Below

was heard as frequently perestroika and glasnost) of social and economic development.9 An acceleration would require more than a re-invigoration of the policies of the past, he stated; the economy would have to be restructured (perestroika means “ restructuring”). Eventually, Gorbachev began to argue that the restructuring process could not take place without social input; indeed, who better to identify the problems in the Soviet economy than the masses, the local managers, and the intelligentsia, all of whom could see clearly what those problems were from their respective vantage points? Each of these groups had been denied a voice during the Brezhnev era; their collective voice was solicited by introducing glasnost.10 Gorbachev exhorted the media to take up the glasnost banner, and he encouraged earlv moves in that direction by taking up a very controversial topic himself: the legacy of Stalinism. By raising the issue and calling for a public discussion, Gorbachev convinced the many elements in society who also wanted to address the Stalinist period that he was serious about glasnost. In fact, by the end of 1987 Gorbachev dropped the issue and has rarely discussed it since, but by then the media were full of exposures of Stalins crimes. Relatively uncensored expression of nationalist sentiment also helped convince Soviet society that glasnost was genuine. By summer 1987 mass demonstrations in each of the three Baltic republics raised their respective flags from the independence era and sang nationalist hymns. These demonstrations were only lightly harassed, and by mid-1988, they were taking place with virtuallv no reaction from authorities in Moseow. Even the most radical of the early political groups, the Democratic Union, suffered comparatively little harassment. Activists from the group gathered regularly on Pushkin Square in Moseow and declared their support for human rights, democracy, a multi-party system, the rule of law, and an end to communism. They were occasionally subject to administrative detainment for several hours or days, but they were not arrested and sent into the camp system as dissidents during the seventies were, despite the radical anti-regime character of their demands. T h e reaction from authorities— ignoring much of the early social activity and only minimally harassing the balance— served as important information to discontented elements of Soviet society: the rules of the game for interest articulation had changed, and the regime was serious in its espousal of glasnost. T h e result was not surprising; social movement activity began to flourish by the end of 1987. Although it required over two years to take root in Soviet society, glasnost provided the first strueture of opportunity to incipient social movement activity.

Competitive Elections In a Central Committee Plenum called in january 1987 in order to discuss progress on reform, Gorbachev dropped a bombsheil by introducing a new “slogan word” into the reform debate: demokratizatsiia (democratization). During the Plenum and in public discussions in the ensuing month, he produced a vague

The Emergence o f Social Movements


concept of democracy; at the very least it was to include competition among candidates and election by secret ballot. T h e reaction throughout the Party hierarchv was evidently one of shock and avowed disapproval, because Gorbachev soon dropped the more radical elements of democratization altogether, confining his discussion of Soviet democracy to such generic and time-worn suggestions as giving the soviets (the elected councils at all leveis of the State hierarchy) more power vis-à-vis the State bureaucracy and (by implication only) the Party. By the 19th Party conference held in June 1988, Gorbachev had zestfullv returned to the topic. He claimed that democratization, including the radical elements discussed in the period shortly after the January 1987 Plenum (but not including any discussion of multiple parties yet), was an essential element of perestroika, and in fact, the only way to assure the irreversibility of the latter was to actively pursue demokratizatsiia . n By introducing some degree of consent and accountability into the system, he argued, the people would push the reform process by selecting competent and responsive leaders, which would prevent any backsliding. At this stage Gorbachev acknowledged the need for representation and involvement of all social groups and classes in the policy-making process. Although it was left vague at this point what he meant by ‘'social groups,” advisors close to him, most notably Tatiana Zaslavskaia, were openly acknowledging that the old paradigm of representation was invalid. T h e long-standing Party position on interests and representation was that two classes (workers and peasants) and one stratum (the intelligentsia) coexisted harmoniously in society and were fully represented by the Communist Party. Zaslavskaia dismissed this notion as virtually ridiculous and claimed that not only did many interests exist in Soviet society, but that they regularly conflicted with one another.12 In his speech to the June 1988 Party conference, Gorbachev indicated that a restructured political system based on basic democratic values would properly represent all those interests. By the end of the year he had pushed through the constitutional amendments that would set the legal basis not only for competitive elections,13 but also the newly revamped central legislature.14 T h e stage was set for the historie elections that took place in March 1989. In what were evidently reasonably fair elections, the Deputies to the new Congress were elected, with significant victories going to grass-roots groups who mobilized and engaged in electoral activity.15 T h e most successes were gained in the Baltic republies, where popular front candidates (or candidates supported by the fronts) scored overwnelming victories. T h e Latvian Popular Front candidates won 26 out of 34 races they contested,16 while the Lithuanian Sajudis group claimed 34 of 42 seats.17 In several cities groups sponsored public forums in sports stadiums in which they engaged in a policy of “open microphone” ; anybody who indicated an interest was allowed to speak and candidates for office were called upon to elucidate their positions on the issues. In localities where groups were still new and organizationally weak, often their leaders, usually members of the local or native intelligentsia, ran as independent candidates and


Perestroika from Below

frequently won.18 Thus, thç groups who actively took part in the elections scored impressive results, and mány figures who represented the new social movement activity throughout the country were elected as deputies. Moreover, the defeat of key nomenklatura candidates, especially in Leningrad (where the Party first secretary, a member of the Politburo who ran without opposition and still lost), demonstrated the incapacity of the Party elite to attract public support and signified the rise of some semblance of “peoples’ power.” T h e degree to which the electoral process and the victories scored by movement groups (as well as independent candidates who represented popular causes and movements) energized social movement activity cannot be overstated. Groups realized the vulnerability of the elite, the potency of the electoral process, and the value of gaining representation. Elections proved to be an enormous resource to groups, and greatly stimulated social movement activity in the political arena. Roughly one year later, in a period running from Decem ber 1989 to April 1990, the scene repeated itself in the elections held at sub-center (republic to municipality) leveis. This time, however, not only the highly visible groups in the Baltic republics and several major cities took part, but thousands of groups participated, some of whom mobilized for the expressed purpose of engaging in electoral activity. As noted above, they were commensurateíy more sophisticated in their strategies and use of resources than groups had been a year earlier, and once again they scored impressive victories. By introducing glasnost in the earíy stages of reform, Gorbachev gradually elicited participatory activity out of a quiescent population, thus spawning the emergence of social movements. T h e elections of 1989 and 1990 led to dramatically increased social movement activity by giving individuais and groups an entree into policy-making arenas and by demonstrating the vulnerability of the nomenklatura. As a result, by the fifth anniversary of perestroika in mid-1990, one could argue that one of its most significant characteristics was the development of widespread and varied social movement activity.

Mobiiization and Organization of Movement Groups T h e structures for mass mobiiization have been a quintessential element of Soviet public life since the inception of Communist state power. índeed, the concept of the Communist Party as a mass organization became a criticai element in the definition of the totalitarian state.19 A number of other ofhcial organs, including the mass youth organization Komsomol,20 and peasants’, workers’ and womens councils, together created a net of state institutions that left no major social group unintegrated. It was their exclusive responsibility not only to create and channel civic action but to contain it as well. In the West, researchers have found that the formation of social movement organizations is largely determined by the prior existence of such organizational ties. By providing solidarity and a network of communication, pre-existing or-

The Emergence o f Social Movements


ganizations significantly increase the potential of a new group to mobilize needed members.21 In the Soviet Union, however, these pre-existing social organizations acted as transmission belts from the state to society. Bureaucratic and hierarchical, they responded more to the needs of the regime elite that to interests in society. Thus, grass-roots activists who wished to pursue independent social action were forced to either mount an insurrection vvithin the official structures, or to attempt to displace them from outside. A key element in the success of movement group activity is the ability of a group to mobilize and develop a potential membership. W here early theories of mass mobilization denigrated activists as unsuccessful, unhealthy members of society, more recent studies indicate that the reverse is true. They show that most Western movement group participants tend to be active members in their own communities with discretionary resources and strong interpersonal ties with others.22 T h e same appears true in the Soviet Union, where leaders of the opposition, even among working-class organizations, tend to be well educated and pivotal members of their particular social group. With restricted access to the material goods that are necessary for successful agitation, the quality and number of a groups membership is especially important in the Soviet Union. Groups with the broadest social appeal and largest membership, such as nationalist and environmental organizations, have had the most consistently successful impact on social policy. The- introduction of competitive elections only heightened the advantage of mass membership, and in turn imposed (viz. Michels) a more unified, formal organizational structure on contending movement groups. T h e loosely organized pockets of support for the popular fronts in the Baltic were developed into centralized, bureaucratic structures in the face of popular elections. Similarly, the disparate groups that constitute the Russian democratic opposition coalesced, however temporarily, into more unified coalition groups such as Demokraticheskaia Rossiia and “ Elections ’9 0 ” . T h e pull to electoral participation became almost irresistible for many mobilized movement groups, even among those who consciously planned to avoid political institutionalization. As David Marples explains in Chapter Eight, members of the popular Ukrainian ecology group, Z elenyi svit pushed its leadership to define the group as a political party even against the latters own more cautious inclination. Even the Anarcho-Syndicalists, who are opposed in principie to representative government, made a bid for Moscow city council seats. A mass-based organization can partially overcome difficult material and political circumstances by the power of sheer numerical strength, which also supplies an important edge in the transition to competitive electoral politics. For organizations of more limited appeal, however, such as coop workers’ or womens groups, the road to independent social action is more complicated. Mass support has not even been an issue for cooperative unions. Because of their extreme unpopularity, Soviet cooperative workers engage in strategies that are similar to those of Western style lobbyists rather than in the more “unorthodox” methods that distinguish social movements in the West, such as demonstrations and boycotts. As Darrell


Perestroika from Below

Slider explains in Chap ter.Nine, they compensate for their lack of popular appeal by exploiting the particular resources at^their disposal, such as sympathy among reform-minded activists and'substantial financial resources. Other sectoral movement groups, such as workers’ or womens groups, have enjoyed neither the special resources of the coop unions nor the wide support that is enjoyed by nationalist or environmental groups. In addition, they have often faced an official organization whose conservative leadership has exclusive contro! over the goods and privileges in contention. W here such leadership has shown resistance to change, insurgent members have had to rely on creating their own limited resources and networks of support. T h e greater the disparity over command of organizational resources between the leadership and members of a pre-existing official structure, the more difficult it has been for the challenging force to usurp control. For women, workers, peasants, and other emergent Soviet special-interest groups attempting to achieve independent representation, the levei of cohesion and solidarity within their own ranks has proved a most criticai resource. In response to the ineffective reforms of the official trade unions, Soviet workers began to create their own alternative organizations, like the independent strike committees of the dramatic summer 1989 coal miners’ strikes. It was no accident that coal miners provided the most powerful example of wildcat worker activity. Because of the dangerous nature of their work, coal miners are historically one of the most cohesive groups within the working class. Soviet miners enjoy an additional advantage over their countrymen because they mine a precious commodity, marketable worldwide, that they can take hostage. Broadcast across the nation, their strike was a vivid example to all Soviet workers of the potential in alternative workers’ organizations. In turn, the growing assertiveness and independence of the many workers’ organizations has provoked a quicker internai reform of the official union. Soviet peasants, on the other hand, enjoy less solidarity among themselves, have a lower standard of living and less access to resources. Thus, their ability to organize among themselves is thwarted. Without an independent social network, as Don Van Atta demonstrates, it is difficult for them to wrest control from a conservative leadership clinging to its slippery foothold on power. With no indigenous peasant organization, political activity in the countryside is dominated by a struggle among an educated elite pursuing its own agenda. Organizers of Soviet women— unlike workers or peasants— face no overtly hostile institutions. Yet the official womens councils recently re-activated by the current regime retain a bureaucratic structure and overly narrow focus on workplace issues consistent with the past practice of addressing the needs of the state rather than the concerns of Soviet women themselves. As Carol Nechemias notes in Chapter Five, tnese limitations of the official womens councils have yet to be challenged. W hile individual women have created isolated pockets of independent activism, women in general, she argues, have been slow to mobilize. A whole series of

The Emergence o f Social Movements


obstacles stand in the way of their becoming politicized, not the least of which is cognitive. Their limited gender consciousness impedes the solidarity and commitment necessary for women to have any significant impact on social policy. Having passed the initial formative stage, many seasoned informal groups are moving toward institutionalization. Many of the popular fronts and environmental groups have produced or themselves have become political parties. As both Judith Sedaitis and Russell Bova discuss (in Chapters Two and Three, respectivelv), the coal miners’ strike committees of summer 1989 have turned into important structures of formidable local power. Yet the road to political maturity is far from ended. Movement groups continue to form, dissolve and reconstitute themselves spontaneously. After 70 years of stunted self-expression, social cohesion has exploded into a fragmented multiplicity of dissenting voices. In order for Soviet social movements to give order and direction to the cacophony of todays emergent civil society, they need to become responsible advocates of real and stable constituencies, a difficult task as distinctions between Soviet social groups and their various interests have yet to fully emerge. W hile chaotic and seemingly ineffective, the decentralized, segmented structure of Soviet social movements is actually the best suited to its current need for self-definition and consolidation. Diffuse organizational structures may not be the most efficient form of establishing institutions, but they are most appropriate for the development of a new political culture.23

W hat Is at Stake? W hy Study Social Movements? How does the dramatic rise of social movement activity in the Soviet Union fit into the social and political scene? T h e contributions to this volume address this issue within the confines of specific sectoral activity, but what does it mean to the developmental pattern writ large? On the one hand, it is obvious that an definitive answer will be possible only with the insight of historical retrospection some years down the road. On the other, some general effects are evident now. In the period that followed Gorbachevs accession to office, he introduced the reform package of perestroika and glasnost and was its primary salesman to both a recalcitrant hierarchy of political office-holders and a cynical public. He was initiator and instigator, providing the tremendous political energy needed to define a complex set of reforms and to do the daily proselytizing required to maintain momentum. By 1 9 8 8 -1 9 8 9 , the economv was steadily deteriorating, nationalist sentiment was resulting in calls for independence in some areas and in violence in others, and Gorbachevs popularity was dwindling as perestroika not only failed to provide any visible results in the form of consumer goods and Services but seemed to make things worse. Gorbachev was increasingly on the defensive, and in the face of pitched political battles over policy (as well as his continued tenure) and the preservation of the Union, he lost the initiative and began to play a


Perestroika from Below

reactive role. He was no jonger as en^aged in defining and pushing reform as he was in continuous crisis^ management. Gorbachev began to lose initiative because he had introduced broad parameters of reform without clearly delimiting what his vision of the future Soviet Union was. His clearest accomplishment may best be defined in negative terms: he moved the country to a position of rejecting the Stalinist social, economic and political order which had survived with little attenuation since Stalins death in 1953. Some changes in the intervening period were undebatable: arbitrary terror gave way to virtually unlimited tenure amortg political (particularly party) elites; education leveis and the degree of social and geographical mobility rose; and corruption and black market activity grew to enormous proportions by 1985. Yet the basic structure of the order remained unchanged, particularly regarding the realm of state-society relations. T h e regime attempted to mobilize and control all social participation, effectively channelíing it in harmless directions that coincided with its policy objectives. índependent civic initiative was proscribed, and when it was attempted, the regime usually responded with harassment, arrest and imprisonment of the instigators. Central planning, pricing and supply reigned supreme, and autonomous economic activity was either illegal or, in the case of the black market, ignored. Society was dominated, indeed virtually subsumed, by the state. As a result of Gorbachevs espousal of glasnost and competitive elections, as well as the regimes general willingness to tolerate vigorous social movement activity, Soviet society has emerged as a viable counterweight to the state. In so doing, it has cast aside significant aspects of the Stalinist social order.24 Some elements in society have an interest in maintaining parts of it; for example, Russell Bova notes the reluctance of workers to give up the basic goods package, including job security, that they enjoyed under the old order. Other elements are in favor of rejecting it Wholesale, although they diverge greatly as to what should replace it. And here is the rub: while the old order is in the process of being resolutely cast aside, there is absolutely no consensus as to what should follow. Gorbachevs lack of a clearly expressed vision has only exacerbated the situation. Thus, as the old order has come crashing down, Gorbachev and his reform coalition have simultaneously lost initiative in defining the policy agenda. Social movements have marched into the vacuum, wresting initiative away from the leadership and articulating competing visions of both immediate and long-term import. They are seeking to participate in the redefinition of the new social order, either preserving or carving out their interests as new laws are passed, new structures are erected, and new institutions are developed. In the process of engaging in competition in various arenas of decision-making, they implicitly (sometimes explicitly) demand a recognition of the principie of civic initiative, in the formation of whatever social order is to come. By toíerating widespread social movement activity, even if at times begrudgingly, the state has legitimized such demands. So we return to the original question of this section: what is at stake? Nothing less than the future development of civil society. We proceed from a simple

The Emergence o f Social Movements


definition of civil society based on a state-society relationship in which independent civic initiative exists and is respected, at least in principie, by the state. In such a society, social movements will inevitably thrive and play an important role in defining the political agenda. A fully institutionalized civil society is by no means yet developed in the Soviet Union (such important elements as the rule of law and the unhampered distribution of resources are absent). But as Andrew Arato argues in the concluding chapter to this volume, the advent of social movements which demand and seek to legitimize civic initiative is a necessary, if insufhcient, condition for the development of civil society. Thus social movements will not only be an important ingredient of a future civil society; they are a crucial element of its development in todays Soviet Union.

Notes 1. There was a brief and very limited period of liberalization under Khrushchev, confined almost exclusively, however, to the arts. 2. The term “ informal” (neformaVnye) has become accepted Soviet parlance to describe these groups, replacing the “grass-roots” (samodeiateVnye) designation that was more common when they first appeared. In fact, many of the groups have developed very formalized organizations and procedures, and the term “ informal” is called into question by the authors and by several Soviet scholars with whom they have conversed. This volume will simply use the term “group” or “ movement group” , intending that they be understood as constituent organizations of broader social movements. In that sense, we utilize the same meaning as McAdam, M cCarthy and Zald use in their definition of “social movement organizations.” “ Social movements,” in Neil Smelser (ed.), Handbook o f Sociology (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1988), 6 9 5 -7 3 7 . 3. O. Shenin, “Za stekliannoi stenoi,” Pravda (February 5, 1988), 3. 4. “ Demokratiia ne terpit demagogii,” Pravda (February 10, 1989), 1. 5. This very descriptive term has been utilized by Jenkins and Perrow to describe the farm workers’ movement in the United States. J. Craig Jenkins and Charles Perrow. “ Insurgency of the powerless: farm worker movements (1 9 4 6 -1 9 7 2 ),” American Sociological Review , 4 2 :2 (April 1977), 2 4 9 -2 6 8 . 6. The Russian phrase vretnia zastoia (time of stagnation) has become a euphemism for the Brezhnev period, in which it was claimed by Gorbachev that social and economic development carne to a halt. 7. Indeed, Gorbachev recognized this and called for the “ unity of word and deed” as early as April 1985, one and one-half months after coming to power. “On convening the regular 27th C P S U Congress and the tasks connected with preparing and holding it,”

Current Digest o f the Soviet Press, 37:17 (May 22, 1985), 8. 8. As a caveat, it must be repeated that the ecology movement is the most recent movement, one that jelled after the Chernobyl disaster of April 1986. Also, the declining economy that has paralleled reform has certainly added to the degree of discontent. 9. He stated, “ . . . we must achieve a substantial acceleration of social and economic progress. There simply is no other way.” “ On convening the regular . . . ,” 4.


Perestroika from Below 10. Usually translated as^openness” , glasnost is derived from the root-word golos,

which means “voice” .


11. He titled one section òf his speech to the conference, “ Reform of the political system— the most important guarantee of the irreversibility of ‘perestroika’

published in

Pravda (June 29, 1988), 4 - 6 . 12. She wrote in 1988 that “ . . . the social structure of our society during the whole period of its existence has been and remains considerably more complex than the traditional model of ‘workers-peasants-intelligentsia.’ And there has always been a struggle of group interests.” “ Urgent problems in the theory of economic sociology,” Soviet Sociology, 27:2 (1988), 7 - 2 7 . B . “ O vyborakh narodnykh deputatov SSSR,” Izvestiia (December 4, 1988), 1 -3 . 14. The old Supreme Soviet, which consisted of 1,500 members and met twice a year for only 3 - 4 days each time, was abolished and replaced with a two-tier parliamentary system. T h e first tier is the Congress of Peoples’ Deputies, a 2,250-m em ber body that meets twice yearly for several weeks. From within its own membership it selects the newly restyled Supreme Soviet, which now has around 4 5 0 members and meets in two sessions yearly for several months at a time. T h e new format allows for informed discussion of the issues and real deliberation on policy, instead of the old format in which the delegates listened to speeches and unanimously ratified Party and administrative legislation that was usually already in place. 15. At least the election stage was reasonably clean. However, in some localities authorities subverted the nomination process to put their candidates, and usually themselves, on the ballot with either no opponents or weak ones at best. 16. Fox Butterfield, “ Latvian Front sees ballot victory,” New York Times (April 23, 1989). 17. Komjaunimo Tiesa (March 2 9 , 1989). 18. The term “ independent” here does not signify non-Party candidates, since over 80% of the candidates were Party members. Instead it refers to candidates who openly espoused reform, usually posited in more radical terms than the Gorbachevian line, and who clearly identified themselves in opposition to the traditions and policies of the preceding decades. Many such candidates were in fact Party members. 19. See C . Friedrich and Z.K . Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press: 1956). 20. The “ Lenin All-Union Committee of Soviet Youth.” 21. Charles Tilly, From Mobilization to Revolution (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1978), 6 2 - 3 . 22. Zurcher and Ekland-Olson (1980), as noted in J. Craig Jenkins, “ Resource mo­ bilization theory and the study of social movements,“ A nnual Review o f Sociology, 9 (1983), 529. 23. L . Gerlach and V. Hine, People, Power, Change (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970), 3 4 -5 6 . 24. This is less the case in the realm of economics than with civic initiative. Even though central planning has gradually given way to cooperatives, leasing arrangements and private entrepreneurial activity, the economy is still highly centralized. Attempts to embark on a massive privatization/marketization drive (for example, the 500-day “ Shatalin” pían, named after its author, which was widely discussed in October 1990 and, in fact, passed by the Russian Republic) were still stalled as of the time of this writing.

2 Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots Judith B. Sedaitis

Politically conservative groups have made concerted efforts to organize grassroots support in order to maintain the old Communist Party/working class nexus. W hile raising a lot of attention and concern, the efforts of these hardliners have been largely unsuccessful, in part because of substantial support among the workers themselves for economic and political pluralism. T h e portrayal of Soviet industrial workers as posing the greatest threat to reform ignores the diverse character of the many unofficial workers’ groups that have recently emerged and overstates their interest in political affairs. Certainly workers have also been courted as potential constituents by both conservative and reform-oriented politicians, thus turning their power struggle into a competition over who gets to represent the Soviet working class. Workers themselves, however, have had their own agenda. Many worker-activists have simply turned their back on the larger political arena in order to concentrate on labor issues. With an ever-worsening economic situation, many workers have felt that political debate on the nature of reform has often bypassed their more pressing and immediate problems. They established unofficial labor unions and workers’ clubs throughout the mid-1980s to protect their rights in light of the shifting economic priorities of perestroika.

The Shifting Social Contract Gorbachevs new economic policies mark a distinct shift in economic and social privileges away from the industrial working-class. Throughout the Brezhnev era,

The author would like to acknowledge helpful conversations with Walter Connor. Debra Milenkovitch and Peter Rutland concerning issues raised in this chapter, and would like to thank Rachel Denber for her insightful editorial assistance.



Perestroika from Below

Soviet workers benefitted most from what some call the unwritten “social contract” of that time. In exchange for their political support, workers enjoyed solid job security, stable prices and \Vage increases that were higher, for the most part, than what other sectors received. In comparison, Gorbachev s reforms appear anti-labor in essence. By promising to abandon the administrative-command system in favor of a free market, Gorbachev has restructured the social contract. His emphasis on profít and efficiency signals a rise of the traditionally “bourgeois” values of initiative and competition while throwing into question the commitment to equal wages and total State welfare that Soviet socialism assumed and that workers had come to expect. Guaranteed employment is probably the most cherished example of socialist entitlements now open to attack. In a controversial essay, the economist Nikolai Shmelev suggested that “ it would be cheaper to pay the unemployed sufficient aid for several months than to support the mass of loafers in factories who are afraid of nothing and who will ruin any self-management.” 1 W hile Gorbachev was quick to quell rumors of impending joblessness, he has taken clear aim at the “ indulgent” wage structure heid over from the Brezhnev era. Pushing aside socialist egalitarianism in favor of a competitive meritocracy, Gorbachev complained that enterprises which have the power to “cut down the incomes of those who are lazy, wasteful, and idle, are using it much too timidly in fear of offending anyone.”2 Most important politically, perestroika has included a shift to competitive representation and an end to the appointment of candidates. As a result, tnis competition has meant the loss of workers’ formal edge in the legislature. Although 7 50 seats in the Congress of Peoples Deputies were set aside for official Party organizations, the traditional quota that guaranteed a high percentage of workers in the Supreme Soviet was abolished. Consequently, the actual percentage of worker deputies fell from 35.2 percent in the 1984 Supreme Soviet to only 18.6 percent in the Congress of Peoples’ Deputies.’ W hile conservative worker-activists have used this decline in formal political participation in attempts to stimulate a resentful resurgence among the rank-and-file, a significant sector within the working class has instead joined with reformist forces to construct a new political order. Thus, workers’ limited political involvement spans the ideological spectrum, from the conservative, “statist” camp to the reform-oriented “pluralists.”

The Pluralist Political Sphere Reformers and radical democrats enjoyed substantial gains in the spring 1990 local elections. Democratic coalitions took control of the city councils in Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev and they now constituted 55 of the 65 Peoples Deputies from the Russian Republic.4 T h e Lithuanian umbrella group Sajudis won 80 percent of the seats to the republican Supreme Soviet in the first round of elections

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


in March 1990, and members of the Ukrainian movement group Rukh made strong gains in the republic Supreme Soviet, vvhile taking control of half the city council seats in Kiev. Even in Belorussia, where the apparat did its best to obstruct pluralist candidates by such methods as running smear campaigns and not allowing the Popular Front to formally register, the Front attained impressive results.5 Popular sentiment clearly supported the new, reformist forces, and a number of workers’ groups allied their specific interests with them. Reform-oriented officials and politicians have not organized among workers to the same extent that conservative Party members have, in part because the pluralist wing in Soviet politics itself is only just emerging. T h e most viable democratic opposition organizations have appeared as loose umbrella coalition groups, the earliest and most cohesive of which have been the popular front groups in the European periphery. W hile Russian workers in some republics have constituted the strongest counter-force to the local popular fronts, in republics of fairly homogeneous ethnic composition, workers have created their own sister organizations in tandem with the republican popular fronts. As the most organized force against the entrenched Communists apparatus, these broad-based popular front groups have provided both inspiration and an organizational base to workers’ support of pluralist politics as a means to further their own interests. Strongest in the Lithuanian and Belorussian republics, working class affiliates to the popular front organizations also exist in the two other Baltic republics, and in the mining regions of Rússia and in Ukraine.6 T h e Lithuanian and Belorussian Labor Unions, the Ukrainian Terkom, the Vorkuta miners’ organizations and others share with respective Popular Fronts the demands for decentralization, market competition, various for ms of ownership and a multi-party System. Like the majority of young political currents in the U SSR , most of these labor organizations have not presented themselves as distinct political parties with their own slates of candidates. Instead, the majority have grabbed the coat-tails of success by participating in elections under the umbrella of their respective popular front group. In the Russian republic, no single popular front has come to the fore. Instead, a number of coalitions and popular fronts exist side by side. W hen the need arises, groups unite to create an even wider umbrella organization, such as the coalition “ Democratic Rússia,” established as a voting bloc for the spring 1990 elections. Inevitably, different unofficial workers’ organizations were represented in the different coalitions. W hen progressive Communists, for example, formed a new “ Democratic Platform” pressure group in preparation for the March 1990 elections, workers’ groups in the Kuzbass and Vorkuta sent delegates.7 Similarly, the nucleus of a new Socialist Party in Rússia claims to involve representatives from most of the active unofficial workers’ organizations.8 Only a few of the smaller, unofficial Russian workers’ groups directly participated on their own in the electoral arena, espousing various and often vague political programs. Unofficial organizations in the Vorkuta area have been an especially politicized and radical voice of labor in Rússia. They have evolved from miners’ strike


Perestroika from Below

committees in summer 1989 into organizations such as the “ Democratic Workers’ Movement” and the “ Party of Labor Council,” which support a radical shift to a multi-party, free-enterpriâe system. T h e only other Russian pluralist labor organization that participated in the 1990 elections vvas the “Conference of AnarchoSyndicalists” (C A S), which conversely presented a utopian socialist program in its bid for seats on the local Moscovv city council. It argued against representational, electoral politics and a capitalist market in favor of direct participation by all in political and economic aífairs. Workers alone would have the right to distribute the fruits of their labor with no intervening “ middlemen.”9 T h e Anarcho-Syndicalists’ politics of complete workers’ control leaves many issues unresolved, such as the role of foreign trade and competition. They address other issues somewhat naively— for instance, requiring that price hikes pass a popular referendum. Nonetheless, the syndicalist politics of C A S represent a major trend among the many unofficial workers’ clubs that are not involved in electoral politics but have their own vision of the future. Their fear of the potentially negative effects of a competitive market system provides substantial fodder for defensive, conservative campaigning.

The Statist Political Sphere W hen the first contested elections in 70 years galvanized the electorate in the spring of 1989, the official workers’ organization— the All-Union Central Council of Professional Unions (the V T sS P S )— stayed above the fray of competition. As an official organization, it was guaranteed 100 seats in the new Congress of Peoples Deputies and therefore felt little pressure to acknowledge the new significance of electoral politics. Instead, at its Fourth Plenum, the V T sSP S conducted business as usual and proposed a slate of 114 names for its 100 slots to the Congress of Peoples Deputies.10 Only seven of its officials were elected to join the Supreme Soviet. Known as the dumping ground for Party bureaucrats on their way to retirement, the V T sSP S has never enjoyed a prestigious reputation among the workers it claimed to represent. A top-heavy, giant umbrella organization to which virtually all Soviet working people belong, it responded to Gorbachevs “ new thinking” slowly and cautiously. Throughout 1 9 8 4 -8 5 , it gradually cleansed itself of the “stagnation” era leadership, although Stepan Shalaiev was retained, one of the few Brezhnev appointees still in power. In response to the Kremlin policy of “democratization,” the V T sSP S began to prune its top-heavy bureaucracy and encouraged middle-level committees to do the same.11 At the same time, it also somewhat loosened its rigid, hierarchical control over union decision-making; local union committees were allowed to control some of their own finances. However, the demand for greater local control, especially over health and recreation funds, was only whetted and continued to escalate in 1 9 8 8 -8 9 .12 Contested elections for union officials, another important indicator of democratization, were formally

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


encouraged by the top leadership, but those middle-level officials most at risk publicly proclaimed their resistance to such innovations.13 In response to the fali of the workers’ “leading role” in government after the March 1989 elections, the V T sSP S reacted with typicai impotence. Its official organ called for preferential treatment of worker deputies in the election to the Supreme Soviet, but the union leadership did not press th is demand on the legislative floor or in the streets.14 In turn, the workers themselves were initially apathetic. For too long, the legislature and the workers' role within it had heen an empty formality. As one metallurgical worker explained, “T h e workers themselves dont organize electoral candidates. Most of them are used to the fact that they don’t decide anything in government and manage nothing.” 15 In fact, those workers who did compete in the spring 1989 contested elections may have found that their class standing worked against them, especiallv if they were no longer actual laborers but officials representing labor interests. Discredited as apparatchiks willing to work with the bureaucracy, they suffered the same fate as many of the conservative Party members.16 Nonetheless, the V T sSP S and the United Workers’ Front, a newly-created unofficial workers’ group, both decided to channel labor interest into a workers’ voting bloc for the spring 1990 elections. T h e dramatic coal miners’ strikes in summer 1989 sent a shock wave through the official labor establishment and Shalaiev knew that drastic action was necessary for his òrganization to keep even the most superficial appearance of legitimacy. In September 1989, he broke the news that the trade unions would be entering the arena of contested territorial elections, admitting that they “must draw conclusions from the mistakes made during the period of election of U SSR peoples’ deputies.” 17 This time, trade union committees at all leveis and in every region were encouraged to field their own candidates in upcoming elections to local soviets. Since the onset of reform, workers and social critics alike had urged the official union to break its subservience to the Communist Party.18 Emboídened by the fight for its survival, the V T sSP S produced a populist program it hoped would draw support even at the risk of thwarting Gorbachevs policy of democratization and economic reform. Little attempt was made however to formulate the new “labor platform” in a democratic fashion. Instead, the councils traditional topdown decision-making pattern was employed once again. Shalaiev simply presented labors position at a plenum of the V T sSP S in December as a fait accompli: a “law and order” platform that in particular would capitalize on resentment toward the cooperatives and other “speculators.” T h e platform supported the liquidation of “ negative social processes” (i.e., economic differentiation), a crackdown on crime, and the stabilization of order and discipline.19 Despite its apparent turn to electoral politics, the V T sSP S was forging neither a new, reformed union nor a labor party.20 In contrast to the earlier demand for preferential treatment of potential “worker” deputies, Shalaiev noted that while any contender in favor of his populist rhetoric could be supported by the V TsSP S,


Perestroika from Below

the organization itself wduld not promote a specific slate of candidates.21 Since most conservative Party members were soundly defeated in the spring 1989 elections, the V T sSP S leadership probably recognized that its sorry reputation as a bureaucratic vestige o f the past would only hurt like-minded candidates. So they formed a new organization, the United Workers' Front, in order to more aggressively pursue a Communist Labor campaign. Although the United Workers' Front (O F T ) enjoyed a grass-roots following that the V T sSP S lacked, it was also a product of entrenched political forces. It first appeared in cities across Rússia where conservative Party members had suffered defeat, and quickly became known as the vehicle through which these disenfranchised politicians could maintain a foothold on power.22 At the Fronts inaugural conference, held in Leningrad in June 1989, a list of anti-market labor demands was approved that included a reduction in the workday, an increase in leaves, and an equalization of work conditions (i.e., earnings) of state and cooperative workers.23 Most importantly, the organizers put forth a proposal to change the basis of local elections by giving two-thirds of the seats to large work collectives. T h e new voting scheme was again an attempt to exploit negative pubiic opinion of cooperatives and the fear of a growing upper class. According to Mikhail Popov, a member of the coordinating council, the O F T leadership was prompted by “ resentment towards the appearance of privileged persons, who, while working less, live considerably better, and take political power by putting their own representatives into the organs of power/'24 T h e voting plan was approved at the first Congress of the United Workers' Front of Rússia, convened in Sverdlovsk in September 1989. Attended by 110 delegates from 2 9 Russian cities, and with guests from Beíorussia and the Baltic, it appeared to have the support of high levei Communist ofncials as well. T h e Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic eventually approved the idea as a voiuntary “experiment." In the end, two regions outside Moscow gave residents the unprecedented choice of voting on either a territorial or enterprise basis.25 Election results showed that the attempt to privilege “worker" candidates and their bureaucratic repre­ sentatives backfired. Workers fared no better under a voting system ostensibly tilted in their favor and surprisingíy, worker-bureaucrats did worse. No officials were elected in the two experimental districts; while more workers were nominated there, more workers were actually elected to office in the regular territorial districts.26 In terms of substantive issues, the O F T clearly expressed the most conservative platform in the name o f the working class. W hile the official trade unions paid lip Service to the Party s emphasis on economic self-management, the O F T stood in unabashed opposition to the current dírection of reform. Its leadership opposed market mechanisms, decentralized state control and, especially, the use of profit as the primary indicator of an enterprises success. If it fails, asks co-chairman Deputy V. Yarin, “ W hat then? A changeover to private ownership? To capitalism ?"27 Instead of profit, he wanted to see “the extent of price reductions" become

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


a factory s primary goal, apparently making bankruptcy, as one journalist mused, the new model of reform.28 For all their sound and fury, however, both the V T sSP S and the United Workers’ Fronts promoted a statist program unpopular among the workers themselves. Implicitly acknowledging the failure of past policy, the official trade union abruptly announced the dismissal of its chairman and promised a radical restructuring of the organization into a confederation of republican unions, to take place at the October 1990 congress.29 T h e V T sSP S may at last be awaking to the fact that worker initiative lies outside its control, but more than structural decentralization is required to salvage its reputation. W hile some conservative leaders have been able to draw vocal crowds by playing on populist fears of inequality and chãos, Soviet pollsters have found that the majority of citizens (56 percent) support such radical notions as the right to private property.30 Workers clearly have rejected the official trade unions and the traditional Communist-worker power bloc as a model for future political campaigns. Workers within the pluralist camp now tend to join in the efforts of other reformist forces. Thus, the possibility of an independent and exclusively labor-oriented political organization, such as a proto-labor party, is unlikely in the near future. Considering that up to three times as many voters prefer the intelligentsia over working class candidates, the strategy of pursuing workers’ interest in the labor rather than electoral' arena is well placed.*1 After 70 years of fictitious State power, workers are politically tainted as the facade behind which the Communist apparat has ruled.

Activism in the Labor Sphere Many unofficial labor groups learned that their workplace concerns get lost when democratic coalitions debate larger political issues. T h e Leningrad Peoples Front (L P F ), a powerful group that has unseated much of the old guard, shocked its working-class members by refusing to support the October 1989 Vorkuta miners’ strike. A resolution banning labor strikes for 15 months had been approved by the Supreme Soviet, and the L P F thought it politically expedient to stay within the law. In response, its worker members quit the group to form their own “Council of Workers’ Committees.” Like many unofficial workers’ clubs, they decided to turn their back on “politics” in order to concentrate on issues internai to labor.’2 This sphere had traditionally been the exclusive preserve of the official trade unions, and any dissatisfaction or challenge to its monopoly was repressed. Under the new freedom of speech and autonomous action however, Soviet workers struck out against their ineffective formal union to pursue their interests on their own. Nowhere was that insurgence more dramatic and formidable than in the massive coal miners’ strike of July-August 1989, which belied that any significant reform internai to the unions had taken place.


Perestroika from Below

Grievances over wage^ pensions, local investment and other issues that led to the summer strikes werè long known to tHe local trade union. Ineffective in preventing the strike, the trade union remained powerless after workers took control. T h e impetus, direction and control of the strike were maintained entirely by the workers themselves, who created municipal strike committees from within their own ranks. Portrayed as symbols of perestroika , their far-reaching demands and “ responsible” behavior won them praíse throughout the Soviet press and catapulted them into positions of local authority and national fame.33 By raising concerns over lack of city Services, including hospitais, schools, road repair and consumer goods, the strike committees soon became the rallying-point for entire communities.34 In some areas, local government officials actually Red the scene and the strike committee became the de facto city government. T h e feeble contribution of local union leaders, who were generally bypassed in elections to the strike committees, primarily consisted of providing free hot meais or refreshing drinks to the striking miners.35 T h e unions humiliating performance underscored the depth of its illegitimacy and prompted a new tum towards electoral strategy and, more importantly, brisker attempts at internai reform. In the aftermath of the strikes, the presidium of the official coal miners’ union met with representatives of strike committees and boasted that one-third of its member unions were now headed by new chairmen, who were mainly former strike activists.36 Aftereffects of the miners’ strike were felt in a number of other republics and industries as well. T h e republican union committees in Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and elsewhere made refreshed attempts to draw new talent into their management.37 In Rússia, a new regional trade union committee was created for the first time. T h e Russian members of the Inter-City Workers’ Club, a prominent unofficial workers’ group, decided to improve from within the existing union system. Their primary concern was the “ top down” hierarchical structure of the V T sSP S that precluded any special attention to the particular circumstances of the R S F S R . They proposed a more decentralized union structure sensitive to regional differences and promised that their own new Russian republican committee would focus attention on the local levei.38 In the end, however, the drastic measures demanded by some of the newcomers often crossed the borderline between reform and demolition of the official structure. T h e Lithuanian republican trade union committee, for example, dismissed its entire top-level leadership at their January 1990 Plenum. In its place, the membership created a temporary coordinating committee consisting entirely of local workeractivists and charged it with establishing a whole new model for the organization.39 Similarly, a radical fraction of coal miners urged their unions Presidium to break completely from the V T sSP S structure and function autonomously as an independent trade union. T h e measure failed in what proponents claim was a “fixed” vote, but it reflected the negative attitude o f the new participants toward the old trade union framework that make its resuscitation highly unlikely.

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


As T Avaliani, a worker-deputy to the U SSR Supreme Soviet explained, even were the V T sSP S to completely reform, it wouldnt have ‘‘the power to influence political questions.”40 For too long, it had been staffed by “weak” personnel and carried little weight with government and other Party officials. To turn ones back on the V T sSP S and create an autonomous union is not without cost, however. T h e V T sSP S has a monopoly on most of the fringe benefits often centrai to labor disputes. They alone determine vacations and sick pay, and often distribute housing and other precious goods. Thus, new activists have to face the sometimes difficult choice of cutting themselves off from the very resources that constituted the heart of their disputes. T h e coal rniners’ strike forced certain V T sSP S leaders to pursue more radical internai reform, and it Hnally acted on the request of workers and social critics to separate the union from Communist Party control. T h e V T sSP S broke from its traditional subservience at the September 1989 Plenum when it announced a “sharp turn” toward its independence from State and management organs and made another important change with its radical decentralization in October 1990.41 W hile the union holds little promise as a formal political force, therefore, it may still remain important as the distributor of scarce goods and benefits, such as unemployment compensation, especially as the economic situation for industrial workers worsens. Despite its obvious material resources, the V T sSP S is still distrusted and often scorned by many worker activists who have been unwilling to simply disappear into its ranks. Instead, they have chosen to create and develop their own autonomous labor organizations.

Independent Labor Unions and Organizations Most of the new, unofficial labor organizations are small; they represent single factories or groups of factories and so have few material benefits to offer their membership. instead, their attraction comes from their single-minded focus on the exclusive interests of the workers. T h e new groups vary in their strategies. Some hold a “socialist” commitment to strong State welfare, social equality, full employment and controlled prices. Others, most notably in the Baltic, promote private property, the value of competition and other “capitalist” measures. They all hope to play a defensive role in protecting workers from undue economic hardship as the Soviet command system disintegrates, although few have attempted to present economically sound platforms that balance the contradictory demands of social justice and economic efficiency. These new organizations can, however, be distinguished broadly by their support for worker participation in the settling of such strategic issues. Some breakaway labor groups emphasize worker involvement in factory man­ agement, following a Western European trade union model. Typically, groups like the Lithuanian Workers’ Union and Solidarity of the Kaliningrad oblast call for more decision-making power to the workers’ collectives, including the election of


Perestroika from Below

management staff by worjkers— a right guaranteed them by law. Consistent with their collective emphasis; these “syndicalist” labor groups support only socialist ownership and limited market mechanisms. Elements that remove direct control from the producer of goods, such as private property or retail sales, are rejected as forms of exploitation.42 Another type of unofficial workers’ group represents a more “ hands o ff” approach like that which is typical of American industrial trade unionism. W here the “syndicalist” type of unofficial trade union would synthesize worker-management positions, the industrial trade unionists sharpen the distinction by their focus on greater legal and administrative defenses against potential abuse by management. In that sense, they take up the aborted, defensive tradition of the independent workers’ union that emerged in the 1970s. Groups such as the “ Free InterProfessional Association of Workers” aimed to provide members with benefits and Services, such as credit unions, but were all quickly suppressed and their leaders jailed or hospitalized.4’

Spravedlivosf (Justice), a breakaway group from the Leningrad city trade union, and other industrialist unions, leave broader theoretical questions aside and concentrate on expanding the rights and wages of workers on the shop floor. They want to de-politicize the workplace and abolish any political or social prerequisites not directly related to job performance.44 Few demands are made that would expand worker democracy or give greater decision-making power to the work collective. A founding member of Justice, I. Dashkevich, explained that his group understood the necessity for a democratic political system and viewed a market economy and private property as “ inevitable.”45 Yet he stands against the syndicalist approach of workers’ control as naive in assuming that workers could distinguish arnong the best candidates for a factory s management positions. As workers, he argues, they simply want guarantees against the economic hardships that they fear will be possibíe under a capitalist system. T h e largest of the industrial trade union organizations, Sotsprof an “Association of Socialist Trade Unions,” similarly eschews the political issue of workers’ democracy in favor of more defensive structures and material benefits. Formed in mid-June 1989 at a meeting attended by 30 representatives from 10 cities, Sotsprof now claims a membership of 15,000 workers.46 Initially denied official approvai and meeting space, Sotsprof hopes to become the most viable competition to the V T sSP S and already promises similar Services, e.g., to monitor health and safety standards, provide fringe benefits and free legal defense to workers in conflict with management.47 O n the other hand, the extent of its access to resources and its credibility with management remain unclear. T h e very source of its attractiveness— autonomy from the Communist Party—-may in the end account for its weakness. Regardless of the viability of Sotsprof support for its goals defines the minimal position workers will accept as part of the new “social contract.”

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


Like their American counterparts, the industrialist type of independent Soviet unions are more effective the larger and more comprehensive they are. T h e syndicalist type, on the other hand, is typically more oriented to local concerns and less eager, or able, to form larger, hierarchical structures. T h e Inter-City Workers’ Club (sometimes referred to as the Organizing Committee), has been one of the largest syndicalist organizations, but neither its central leadership nor its main objectives have been formalized, even though it has enjoyed a fairly wide base of social support. About 150 workers from 23 cities attended the founding conference in July 1989, where the question of empowering workers in their local collectives emerged as a primary goal.48 T h e different members of the Club each pursued their own course of action, some more radically than others, and the organization concerned itself simply with publishing a newsletter in order to slowly, but democratically, formulate cohesion for future actions in concert. T h e strike committees established in all three of the major coal mining areas— the Donbass, the Kuzbass and the Komi regions— have been representative of the largest and perhaps most effective syndicalist-type labor group; they merit a full discussion that goes beyond the scope of this chapter. Unlike those of most syndicalist groups, their demands have transcended purely labor concerns and the local confines of their own regions. W hile many coal miners turned their energies toward reforming their official trade union, the regional strike committees continued to exist as autonomous organizations after the strikes were concluded. Forcing the replacement of many former Party and trade union officials, these committees rapidly became influential but independent power brokers in their regions.49 Initially, the strike committees fit the mold of a typical Western industrial trade union and focused on monitoring government compliance with the contracts they had negotiated, Miners wanted quicker action taken on the pension and night shift wage increases promised them. Their strike committees stood readv to launch future work stoppages in order to secure the negotiated concessions. Soon the miners' desire for greater control over company profits, which included hard currency, expanded their concerns beyond traditional wage and fringe benefit provisions. Their demands for greater economic self-management and control of local investment brought them into league with pluralist political groups as they began to more actively support “ radical" reform of the centralized commandadministrative system. Some miners went on to create their own political orga­ nizations and hoped to compete with Communists in local elections. T h e seemingly unimpeded success and authority of the various strike committees led some observers to question the role of the K G B among the coal miners' leadership.50 While such co-optation is impossible to rule out, the strike committees have consistently responded in support of the democratic opposition at every political turn. They supported the call for a radical economic program of reform against Prime Minister Ryzhkovs more cautious approach, and joined with other democratic groups in demanding his resignation and the depoliticization of State structures including television, education, the Army and the K G B .51


Perestroika from Below

In Vorkuta, the most^ radicalized of all coal miner strongholds, the strike committee surprised many ôfficials by sígning an agreement of mutual cooperation with the U SSR Union o f United Cooperative Members. T h e rhetoric of the V T sSP S and other conservative groupings created the stereotype that workers resented coops as inimical to their interests. Instead, the Vorkuta coal miners joined forces with the cooperateurs in support of radical reform and against “the monopoly of the bureaucratic administrative apparatus in the field of management, the distribution of resources, the division of profits and other areas. . . .” 52 Coal miners’ strike committees, the Inter-City Workers’ Club and other “syndicalist” labor groups relate the narrow questions of their own economic wellbeing to the larger issues of economic reform. In an effort to avoid “expíoitative” relations, they extend their grass-roots activity into the larger politicaí arena more readily than do Sotsprof and other U.S.-style industrial trade unions. Thus, this type of unofficial workers’ labor groups could provide fertile ground for recruiting new' members to left-of-center politicaí groupings such as the Social Democrats, the Socialist Party and others; however, the fear that they may lead a workingclass backlash in the face of radical reform is overstated. Like their more pragmatic counterparts, even “socialist” workers want to live better; increasingly, this desire has led to wary acceptance of the fact that drastic systemic changes are necessary

Conclusion Currently, a majority of the newly-formed independent workers’ groups can be broadly divided into two categories: those who have participated in the politicaí arena and those who have stayed more cíosely focused on workplace issues. Given the greater organization required for effective campaigning, worker involvement in electoral politics has been dominated by professional politicaí activists from both the progressive, “pluralist” and the conservative, “statist” groups. O n the other hand, the organizations that emerged more spontaneously from the working class itself have tended to bypass the more complex and difficult issues of reform, with some notable exceptions, and make favorable workplace conditions their primary concem. Contrary to their infamous notoriety as obstacles to perestroika , the majority of workers have not mobilized behind conservative forces. As Figure 2,1 indicates, most new workers’ groups do not support the traditional, statist, command-administrative system. O n the other hand, neither do they support a radical shift to a pure free-market economy. T h e most amenable to such drastic change are unofficial groups of the industrial trade union type, which focus primarily on workplace conditions and rights. As long as their labor demands on wages and fringe benefits are met, they appear the most prepared to work within a free market structure. W hile the remaining pluralist majority hold a principled commitment against what they see as the inherent exploitation of a free market, they lack the resources and ultimately the desire to block a restructuring of the Soviet economic system.

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


Figure 2.1 A Typology of Worker Activism in the Spheres of Politics and Labor

Sphere of Primary Concern Political

pluralist free market

Reform Orientation

pluralist socialist market

statist anti-market

Liberal Party Social Democrats Christian Democrats Democrats

Anarcho-Syndicalists Vorkuta Democratic Workers’ Movement Socialist Party Republic-level Labor Fronts

United Workers' Front (OFT) Official Trade Union Council (VTsSPS)


Industrial Trade Unions

Syndicalist Trade Unions

Official Trade Union Council (VTsSPS)

Syndicalist labor groups and the majority of worker-oriented political groups support a compromise reform toward a mixed, or “socialist” market. They support de-monopolization, competition and pluralism common to liberal, capitalist democracies. On the other hand, they oppose the loss of control by the direct producers over their product and prefer collectively held property rights over private property. This commitment to a middle path has been reflected in the Soviet governments own gradual program of reform, but as pressure builds for more resoiute and radical measures, workers may be forced to abandon their support for the best of all possible worlds to choose between the change or collapse of the system.

Notes 1. Nikolai Shmelev, “Avansy i dolgi” in Novyi mir, 1987:6 (June 1987), 149. 2. M .S. Gorbachev, “ O khode realizatsii reshenii 27-ogo s”ezda KPSS i zadachakh po uglubleniiu perestroiki,” in M .S. Gorbachev, Izbrannye rech i statei, Volume 6 (Moscovv: Politizdat, 1989), 335.


Perestroika from Below 3. Moskovskie novosti, 16 (1982), 2. 4. A nice summary of some elections results is in “ Gorbachev takes action to stop

Lithuania breaking away," Manchester Guardian (March 25, 1990), 1. 5. Key Belorussian Communist leaders, including the mayor of Minsk, the Party chief of Minsk and the republics head of ideology all lost their bids for places in the republican Supreme Soviet, while in the city of Minsk alone, 14 candidates from the Popular Front were elected to that body. “ My vybiraem,” Literaturnaia gazeta (March 21, 1990), 2. 6. Interview with activist coal miners by Ludmilla Thorne, “W hat Soviet miners want,”

Freedom at Issue (March/April 1990). 7. J. Wishnevsky and E . Teague, “ ‘Democratic Platform' created in C P S U ,” Report

on the USSR (Feb. 2, 1990), 7. 8. interview with Boris Kagarlitsky, a founder of the Russian Committee for a Socialist Party, April 4, 1990. 9. Obshchina (bulletin of the C A S ), 1, (May 1989), 3 -5 . 10. Trud (January 19, 1989), 1. 11. The Moscow city union committee, for example, boasted a two-thirds reduction in the size of its union apparat between 1 9 8 7 -8 9 . See F. Emchenko and A. Kozlov, “ Resheniia nado iskat* samym,” Trud (January 23 , 1990), 1 -2 . 12. “ V Prezidiume V TsSPS,” Trud, (May 21, 1989), 1, and “ V Prezidiume V TsSPS,”

Trud (March 15, 1989), 1. 13. Peter Hauslohner, “ Democratization Trom the middle out': Soviet trade unions and ‘perestroika',” Harriman Institute Forum Publication , 1:10 (October 1988), 3. 14. “ Vybory i Vybor,” Trud (April 7, 1989), 2. 15. M. Belousov, “ Vybor puti,” Trud (Sept. 10, 1989), 2. 16. M . Monusov, “ Listovkoi— po kandidatu," Trud (May 7, 1989), 1. 17. “Tekushchii moment i neotlozhnye zadachi professionaFnykh soiuzov,” Trud (September 8, 1989), 1 -3 . 18. Urging the VTsSPS to become a genuine guardian of workers' interests, the economist A. Auzan likened the organization to an old granny who “fusses a lot, interferes in everything, but to whom nobody listens.” Sotsialisticheskaia industriia as found in FBIS

Daily Report (May 11, 1989), 4 4 . 19. “ Za sotsiaPnuiu spravedlivost', za interesy naroda!" Trud (December 6, 1989), 1. 20. Calculated to reflect its renewed character and appeal, the VTsSPS organized a public rally, yet continued to employ old command-administrative methods. As one Soviet journalist ruefully noted, his own supervisors received a phone call instructing them that workers should be told to attend. M. Berger and I. Demchenko, “ Seeking the culprit?"

Izvestiia, (October 5, 1989), 1. 21. E. Stradze, “ I slovom i delom,” Trud (December 2, 1989), 1, and “ V interesakh liudei truda," Trud (December 3, 1989), 1. 22. For example, Iurii Solov'ev, the Leningrad regional Party boss who lost his bid to the Congress of Peoples’ Deputies, was soon speaking to worker collectives across the region. On the basis of this agitation, the social foundation for the United Workers' Front of Leningrad was apparently laid. Lev Karpinsky, Moscow News, 1989:21, 3, and A. Ozhegov, Leningradskaia pravda (April 25, 1989), 1 -2 . 23. M . Belousov, Trud (June 24 , 1989), 2, and T. Pitrenko, Literaturnaia gazeta (June 21, 1989), 2.

Worker Activism: Politics at the Grass Roots


24. Vladimir Kozhemiakin, ‘T h e Leningrad experiment,” Moscow News, 1989:34, 12. 25. See A. Gamov, “ Sostoiatel’nost’ eksperimenta,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (Jan. 5, 1990), 3, or D . Gafmakov, “ Po mestu raboty,” Sovetskaia Belorussiia (Feb. 6, 1990), 2. 26. T. Kariakina, “ Shtrikhovoi portret,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (Jan. 24, 1989), 3. See also Dawn Mann, “The R S FS R elections: factory-based constituencies,” Report on the USSR. 161/90, (March 15, 1990) 16-18. 27. A. Kozlov, “ My zashchishchaem interesv trudiashchikhsia,” Trud (October 15, 1989),

2. 28. Alexander Levikov, “Are Leningraders any worse?” Moscow News, 1989:32, 10. 29. From a Vremia newscast, in FBIS Daily Report (April 18, 1990), 59. 30. Statistics cited in a lecture at Columbia University, on February 13, 1990, by Iurii Levada, a leading researcher at the Center for the Study of Public Opinion in Moscow. 31. A. Gamov, “ Vashe nastroenie?” Sovetskaia Rossiia (Jan. 27, 1990), 3. 32. Interview with Igor Dashkevich, a founder of Justice, a Leningrad unofficial workers’ union, Feb. 2, 1990. 33. Miners were especially praised for curbing alcohol use and maintaining order. See A. Boganuk, “ Ne tak prosto,” Pravda (July 15, 1990), 6. 34. Filippov, “A passion for ultimatums . . . ,” Izvestiia (September 6, 1989), 3. 35. From Pravda, as reported in FBIS Daily Report (July 19, 1989), 70. 36. A. Pankov, “ Stachkom i Profkom,” Trud, (September 3, 1989), 2. 37. S. Vaganov, Trud (November 22, 1989), 2, and V. Savebev, “ Legko li byt’ boevym,” Trud (September 5, 1989), 1. 38. “ Bez povtoreniia proidennogo,” Trud (January 3, 1990), 2. 39. G. Konsius, and V. Kraiushkin, “ Na puti obnovleniia,” Trud (January 30, 1990), 2. 40 . “Test by strikes,” interview with T. Avaliani and S. Shalaiev, Moscow News 32, (August 6, 1990), 8. 41. “ O tekushchem momente i neotlozhnykh zadachakh professional’nykh soiuzov,”

Trud (Sept. 9, 1989), 1. 42 . Rabochaia gazeta, Organ of the Workers Club of the Yaroslav Motor Works Factory, (September-October 1989), and other unofficial publications. 43. Betsey Gidwitz, “ Labor unrest in the Soviet Union,” Problems o f Communism (November-December 1982), 2 5 -4 2 . 4 4 . The Leningrad Independent Trade Union “Justice” Statutes (no date), 1 -2 . 45 . Interview with Dashkevich. 46. Vladimir Volin, “Alternative trade union,” Moscow News 25 (June 26, 1989). 47. “ Profsoiuzy: Sovetskie i sotsialisticheskie,” interview with Sotsprof leader Sergei Khramov, published by Sotsprof (no date), 1 -2 . 48 . L. Grafova, “ Kakim byt’ soiuzy rabochikh,” Literaturnaia gazeta (July 19, 1989),

2. 49. The Regional Union of Strike Committees of the Donbass, for instance, forced out Party leaders in two cities whom they found recalcitrant. 50. Vera Tolz, “A new approach to informal groups,” Report on the USSR (March 9, 1990), 2. 51. “The last warning,” Moscow News 29 (July 29, 1990), 6. 52. From Izvestiia, “Co-op union takes up miners’ cause,” Current Digest o f the Soviet

Press, 4 1 :4 5 , 9 -1 0 .

3 Worker Activism: The Role of the State Russell Bova

In a July 1989 speech before the first session of the newly reconstituted Supreme Soviet, Mikhail Gorbachev referred to the wave of strike activity then sweeping key coal mining regions of the Soviet Union as “a very serious crisis” and as “our most serious test” in four years of perestroika.] W hile there is no reason to doubt that Gorbachev was genuinely and deeply concerned by the potential economic and political consequences of those strikes, the fact remains that his own policies are most responsible for the growth of a public activism of which labor unrest was simply one, very dramatic manifestation. Neither the well-documented failure of perestroika to improve the Soviet economy nor the equally well-documented success of glasnost in lifting the veil of fear is alone responsible for the resurgence of public activity. Gorbachevs most direct contribution to the politicization of the Soviet public is, instead, a conscious political strategy based on an alliance between the reform-minded leadership at the top and a newly assertive public at the bottom. Rather than viewing Gorbachev as a man attempting to respond to and contain the new activism of Soviet citizens, consumers, and workers, it is better to view him as the main promoter of such activity as he has attempted to channel it in directions which would suit his purposes. To be sure, Gorbachev s strategy has been a risky one. His loss of control over nationality politics and the summer 1989 strikes by Soviet miners represent only the two most obvious instances in which that political strategy appears to have backfired. Such cases clearly demonstrate that the totalitarian perspective on Soviet politics in which “public participation” could be completely orchestrated and contiolled from above is now obsolete. At the same time, it would be a mistake to jump to the opposite extreme and view contemporary activism as a purely spontaneous and autonomous challenge to the State and party apparat. T h e reality is more complicated insofar as representatives of opposing factions inside the



Perestroika from Below

apparat have attempted^ Jto mobilize popular pressures for their own purposes. T h e growth and evolution of working class activism in the Soviet Union over the past few years clearly reflects this dialectic of state control and public autonomy.

Gorbachev s Promotion of Worker Activism Gorbachevs efforts to promote worker activism can be traced back at least as far as the “ U SSR Law on State Enterprises (Associations),” which was adopted by the Supreme Soviet on June 30, 1987.2 That law provided for the creation of two new mechanisms for worker participation and influence in the management of enterprise affairs. T h e first and the more radical of the new mechanisms is the election of managers. According to Article 6 of the law, all members of the administration, from the enterprise director down to brigade leaders, must be elected by members of the labor collective. Secona, the law also provides for the creation of a new “council of the labor collective” (sovet trudovogo kollektiva). All members of the labor collective are eligible to elect and to serve on this body. T h e law further defines this council as the central organ of labor collective selfmanagement, and it identifies a substantial list of enterprise activities over which the council exercises binding authority. T h e purposes behind this effort to democratize the Soviet workplace were several. ít was, first of all, the logical culmination of Gorbachevs two-year-old campaign to address the “ human factors” which determine economic performance. Whereas Andropovs approach to those “ human factors” emphasized a neo-Stalinist labor discipline based on sanctions, Gorbachev, although initially adopting some of the Andropov approach (most notably in the campaign against alcohol), was to address that same problem of discipline through co-optation. He assumed that workers might begin to work more productívely if they could come to believe they had some voice in the affairs of the enterprise. As an editorial in Pravda suggested, workplace democratization would help create a sense of proprietorship and initiative among members of the work collective.5 Second, workplace democratization would also be useful in helping to alleviate the social tensions that would inevitably result from the implementaiion of G or­ bachevs economic reform agenda. To the extent that the principies of “economic accountability” and “self-financing” were to be applied to enterprises across the Soviet Union, the likelihood was that the job and wage security of many workers would now be threatened. T h e new mechanisms of workplace participation would provide officially sanctioned opportunities for adversely affected workers to air their grievances and would, hopefully, preempt the emergence of strikes and other more dangerous manifestations of worker discontent. Furthermore, employees themselves might now share in making the difficult and unpopular decisions related to the release of their fellow workers and to the distribution of wages and bonuses and, thus, deflect criticism from the official representaiives of the state apparat. This

Worker Activism: The Role o f the State


need to buy social peace through democratization of the Soviet enterprise was expressed very clearly by Tatiana Zaslavskaia. So if we follow through and make management increasingly compatible with glasnost , including the decision-making process itself, then people will perceive managerial decisions as participants— [they will view them] as decisions made together. By following this course, we can at least substantially reduce the social tension that arises in the process of radical restructuring.4

Finally, workplace democratization under Gorbachev may also be viewed as a means to apply pressure to the State and party apparatus at the grass-roots, enterprise levei where resistance to radical reform is strong. As noted in Pravda, “public monitoring is a reliable method in the struggle against excessive bureaucracy and formalism.” 5 Whereas the Brezhnev years represented an alliance of the top political elite with the vast party-state bureaucracy, Gorbachev s new political strategy involved an alliance of a reform-minded leadership represented by Gorbachev himself and a reform-minded public who would, in tandem, maintain the pressure for change on that bureaucracy from above and from below. In effect, the rank and file of the Soviet enterprise would act as Gorbachevs collective eyes and ears. D ecentralization of decision-making authority within the enterprise was, in a sense, largely intended to help Gorbachev re-assert central control over the enterprise. O f course, the danger for Gorbachev in all of this was that he might lose control over his public allies.6 To prevent this, certain safeguards were built into the design of the managerial election process and the labor collective councils. T h e “ Law On State Enterprises (Associations)” provided that all results of elections to the enterprise management be approved by the director of the enterprise or, in the case of the election of the director himself, by an appropriate “superior organ.” Similarly, while the labor collective council could, in principie, take up for discussion a wide range of enterprise-related issues, its binding authority is largely limited to issues connected with the promotion of enterprise productivity. Even without these formal restrictions, the limited jurisdiction of the new institutions of participatory management would probablv have been enough to restrict their effectiveness. Because this first attempt at democratization was limited to the enterprise levei, there was little chance that even the most effectively functioning organ of democratic management could have successfuüy addressed the range of important issues and decisions that continued, even in the context of efforts to decentralize the Soviet economy, to be made at leveis above the enterprise. As for those decisions that could be made within the individual enterprise, the dependence of workers on the goodwill of the troika of management, party, and trade union ofhcials which has traditionally ruled the Soviet workplace would have made active use of participatory institutions risky, no matter what range of powers workers had been formally granted. In an environment where managers were now being encouraged to shed redundant workers, the reward for worker activism might


Perestroika from Below

be the loss of ones job and of all the social benefits connected with ones employment in the Soviet Union. ' Contradictions were, thus, quite evident in this workplace democratization strategy. T h e impact of elections on managerial behavior was likely to be severely limited since managers, rather than the work collective, have the final word on the validity of election results. T h e effectiveness of Gorbachevs attempt to mobilize the rank and file to act as the agents of his reform agenda through the labor collective councils was also likely to be reduced by the limited authority of those organs. T h e initial failure to extend real democratic reforms outside of the work environment left the workers no power base from which to challenge the partv and state officials in the enterprise. At the same time, tension and contradiction may be exactly what Gorbachev had in mind, i.e. just enough “democracy” to stir up managerial interest in reform but not so much as to totally undercut the key institutions of the Soviet party-state. In trying to have things both ways, however, it seems that Gorbachevs strategy of workplace democratization failed to achieve its intended results. Early poli data suggested that managers were not enthusiastic about implementing more democratic forms of management.7 Workers complained that the labor collective councils were dominated by management.8 One survey of more than 11,000 workers conducted in m ia-1988 found that less than three percent believed that the new organs of enterprise self-management were actively functioning.9 T h e failure of Gorbachevs strategy either to satisfy workers or to induce much concern in management actually left Gorbachev facing the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, workers whose expectations had been raised by Gorbachevs participatory rhetoric were now disappointed and, perhaps, even more alienated from the state than they had been previously. O n the other hand, the limitations placed on the “democratic” organs of labor collective self-management greatlv lessened their utility to Gorbachev as a spur to the implementation of his economic reforms. By early 1988, commentaries in the Soviet media began to focus more and more attention on bureaucratic resistance to perestroika, and supporters of economic reform argued that new laws and resolutions had done little to alter long-established patterns of behavior.10 W hile much of the talk of bureaucratic resistance may have been an effort to find a convenient scapegoat for policies which were poorly designed in the first place, there is no doubt that some grass-roots resistance to perestroika was quite real. It was in response to this resistance and to the failure of workplace de­ mocratization to break it that Gorbachev, by m id-1988, was ready to raise the stakes and to launch his broader program of political democratization. This program was discussed at the June 1988 Party Conference and codified in a series of constitutional modifications ratified by the Supreme Soviet in the autumn of that same year. T h e logic and purposes of the 1988 political reforms were quite similar to the participatory reforms which had been introduced in the workplace a year earlier.

Worker Activism: The Role o f the State


In both cases democratization was intended to preempt and channel popular discontent at a time of economic hardship and social dislocation. Even more importantly, democratization was to be the whip with which reluctant members of the state and party apparat at all leveis, but especially at the local levei, were to be brought into line behind Gorbachevs program of economic perestroika. Gorbachev himself succinctly summarized his strategy in a February 1989 conversation with citizens on a Street in Kiev: “ You keep up the pressure. W e’ll press from the top, and you keep pressing from the bottom. Only in that way can perestroika succeed.” 11 T h e main difference between the workplace democratization strategy of 1987 and the broader political reforms of 1988 was that while the former required that the whip of reform be wielded inside the enterprise by workers potentially vulnerable to managerial retaliation, the 1988 political reforms allowed for an attack on the apparat from the relatively safe and anonymous position of the voting booth. On one levei, this political strategy has clearly been successfuh Elections at the all-union, republic, and local leveis put conservative members of the party and state apparatus on the defensive, and, consequently, Gorbachevs grip on the institutions of the Soviet party and state appeared, by mid-1989, to be at a peak. Indeed, the central paradox of Soviet political reform in the 1980s is the simultaneous diffusion and centralization of political power. This is not coincidentaí, but, rather, quite as Gorbachev intended. At the same time, there was an inherent danger in Gorbachevs political strategy. W hile attempting to use democratization as a means to further his own power and agenda, he has been running the risk of creating a Frankenstein that he may not always be able to control. Emboldened by the new atmosphere of openness, participation, and democracy, various groups and strata in Soviet society have begun to pursue their own agendas, many of which conflict with that of Gorbachev himself. W hile resurgent nationalism and ethnic feuding are probably the most criticai problems which Gorbachev has had to face thus far, the chalíenges posed by a newly assertive working class could also be a cause for concern.

The “ Unofficiar Workers' Movement Although the 1988 political reforms were not aimed at the workplace or at the Soviet working class per se, they did help contribute to the development of a genuine working class political movement in the Soviet Union. T h e emphasis on democratization in the Soviet media, the open and competitive (by Soviet standards) March 1989 election of the new Congress of Peoples Deputies, the rout of conservative party officials in Leningrad and in other Soviet localities, the victories of such well-known anti-establishment figures as Andrei Sakharov and Boris Ektsin, and the refreshingly frank discussions in the new legislative bodv created a new atmosphere in the country. Workers, according to one Soviet commentator reporting on the miners’ strikes that developed in sumrner 1989, felt “emancipated” as a


Perestroika from Below

consequence of the evertts associated with the election and performance of the new Congress.12 This sensç of political emancipation produced an increased levei o f worker activism that completely bypassed the officially established organs of worker participation. T h e singularly most important manifestation of an independent or unofficial workers’ movement in the Soviet Union was the outbreak of strike activity in key coal mining regions in July 1989. They involved hundreds of thousands o f workers in a key industry, they w'ere geographically widespread, and, perhaps most importantly, they had a political overtone which had not previously been displayed in such sharp relief. In addition to calls for better economic benefits, many of the demands included calls for local control over the mines, for the abolition of official privileges, and for the abolition of the leading role of the Communist Party in Soviet society.13 A new levei o f political consciousness, sophistication, and daring was also reflected in the organization of strike activity. Strike committees emerged as effective instruments of worker power not only in promoting and organizing the strikes themselves but in replacing discredited local and regional authorities. Rather than disband when the strike ended, many of the strike committees transformed themselves into permanently functioning workers’ committees that Boris EFtsin apparently referred to as “embryos of real peoples power.” 14 Standing in stark contrast to the life and energy bubbling up in these unofficial workers’ institutions was the lifelessness of the official institutions of worker activism. According to one observer, local union officials “appeared to be powerless” and their authority was “ insignificant compared with that of the strike committees.” 15 Similarly, what most distinguished the much ballyhooed councils of the labor collective was their almost total irrelevance throughout the coal miners’ strikes of 1989. These bodies apparently played little, if any, role in either the promotion, restraint, or resolution of the strikes. W hen asked by an Izvestiia correspondent why this was so, one striking miner from the Kuzbass region candidly responded that workers approach elections to those bodies guided by the old principie “just so it isn’t me.” 16 Based on interviews with numerous striking miners, that cor­ respondent thus concluded:

Frankly, there are only a few people who believe that the councils of labor collectives are to be taken seriously, that they are really full-fledged bodies. In addition, the elections were conducted as a mere formality and under supervision. The workers did not feel independent.17

Apparently, these workers saw little difference between the new Gorbachev era participatory innovations and the old production conferences and labor collective meetings that, though íargely devoid of any significant content, had to be repeatedly endured throughout the Brezhnev era.

Worker Activism: The Role o f the State


From Gorbachevs perspective, the emergence of a new activism among Soviet workers that bypassed official institutions was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he quickly moved to use the strikes as yet another excuse to push ahead with his agenda of reform and to attack opponents of restructuring. In a July 19 speech to the Supreme Soviet he argued that the strikes were a reflection of the fact that the implementation of perestroika at the local levei was proceeding too slowlv. While indicating that the strikes were the wrong way to go about changing things, Gorbachev, nonetheless, resisted the temptation to lash out at the striking workers. Instead, he praised them for resisting anti-socialist slogans and for behaving, in the context of the strikes, in an orderly and disciplined manner.18 T h e intensive coverage of the strikes in the Soviet media has been viewed by manv observers as a purposeful attempt by Gorbachev to use the strikes to his advantageT' On the other hand, this rapid politicization of the Soviet working class did seem to push events outside of Gorbachevs political comfort zone. T h e disruptions caused by the strikes and the possibility that they would spread to railway workers and other key sectors of Soviet industry threatened to paralyze an already crippled Soviet economy. Moreover, although Gorbachevs political reforms were intended to promote public activism and although he did use the strikes to his political advantage, Gorbachevs own control over this rapidly developing workers’ movement was limited. Having undammed a reservoir of political participation, he risked being washed aside by a current with a momentum of its own. Gorbachev moved quickly to reassert some control from above. This effort first required concessions to the striking miners. Although costly and although he ran the risk of setting a precedent of which workers in other industries would take note, dealing with the immediate crisis was the first priority. On August 3, a Council of Ministers Resolution was issued which set deadlines for meeting many of the miners’ demands, and most of the striking miners were, by early August, back at work. Having at least temporarily defused a potentially disastrous situation in this manner, Gorbachev then turned his attention to a longer-term effort to tighten his grip on the fledgling workers’ movement. T h e centerpiece of this effort was the new “ Law on Procedures for Resolving Collective Labor Disputes (Conflicts).” A draft version of this law was ready for publication in Izvestiia on August 16 and the final version was signed into law by Gorbachev less than two rnonths later on October 9 .20 Several notable concessions to the workers’ movement were incorporated in this new law. T h e right to strike was formally acknowledged (article 6), and the jobs and seniority of strikers acting in compliance with the law were guaranteed (article 14). Just as importantly, the law recognized the right of workers to form strike committees to lead and organize strike activity (article 7). W hile these are certainly radical departures from past policy, the fact remains that, short of efforts which might reverse his entire reform agenda, Gorbachev probably had little choice but to accept what was in fact happening all around him. These concessions to reality


Perestroika from Below

aside, the bulk of the neW Jaw was aimed less at relinquishing than at reasserting control over the workers’ movement. First, strikes in many sectors of the Soviet economy are flatly prohibited. These include strikes affecting the railways and municipal transportation, civil aviation, Communications, State agencies, defense production, or in cases vvhere a threat to Public health is posed (article 11). Strikes that are overtly political in character are also prohibited (article 12). Moreover, strikes in any industry can be suspended for up to tvvo months by a decision of the all-union or republic levei supreme soviet (article 9). Second, even in sectors where strikes are tolerated, all other avenues for resolving labor disputes must be exhausted before a strike can legally begin. Demands of the labor collective must be formally approved by the majority of its members and submitted in writing to management (article 2). Those demands rejected by management are then examined by a “conciliation commission” made up of management and labor collective representaiives who are empowered to negotiate a resolution of issues in dispute (article 4). Demands that remain at issue are then taken up by a “board of labor arbitration” (article 5). With the agreement of both parties to the dispute, this board is made up of peoples deputies, higher trade union officials, and representatives from the state organ dealing with labor and social questions. Although the law becomes a little ambiguous at this point, it appears to suggest that the strike option can then come into play only if the board itself is unwilling to impose an agreement on the parties (article 6). Otherwise the decision of the board is binding and a strike would be illegal. Thu s, the blanket right to strike which the law appears to grant is thereby reduced to a right determined on a case-by-case basis by officials not directly accountable to workers at the enterprise levei. Finally, in legalizing the role of strike committees the law attempts to rein them in as well. According to article 8, the role and powers of the strike committee must end once the strike is settled or if the strike is judged illegal. Monitoring the fulfillment of the terms of any agreements achieved as the result of a strike is left to the unions, to state bodies, and to other permanently functioning public and labor collective organizations. As important as the content of the strike law is the fact that it has been ratified and endorsed by the newly reformed Supreme Soviet. Although the Supreme Soviet did, in October 1989, resist Gorbachevs proposed fifteen-month ban on strike activity and although debate in the Supreme Soviet on the strike law itself was intense, Gorbachevs attempt to rein in strike activity through the law was ultimately supported by the overwhelming majority of deputies. Despite the new law, the coal mining regions of the Soviet Union have been marked by continued tension. Strikes have broken out again, especially in Vorkuta in the Soviet far north, but on a smaller scale than those of summer 1989. There has been debate over the governments progress in implementing the concessions granted to end the summer unrest,21 and the interpretation and application of the

Worker Activism: The Role o f the State


strike law has also been a source of contention. For example, the Komi Autonomous Republic Supreme Court ruled in late October 1989 that renewed strike activity by Vorkuta miners vvas illegal insofar as it did not follow all the preliminary steps laid out in the law. T h e strike committees had argued, however, that the autumn 1989 work stoppages were simply a continuation of the summer strike and were necessitated by the failure of the government to fulfill the promises it had made in getting workers to go back into the mines. As such, they argued, there was no legal requirement to follow the steps in the strike law.22 T h e fact that miners have remained defiant, that they have engaged in or threatened new strikes arguably in violation of procedures laid out in the new law and that they have resisted pressures to disband strike committees is not entirely a defeat for Gorbachevs policv. On the contrary, armed with a legal basis for action against strikers that has been endorsed by the Supreme Soviet, Gorbachev could afford to allow militant workers some slack as they did battle with his political enemies. In early March 1990, for example, angry Donbass miners gathered outside the building of a local party committee, demanding the resignation of conservative party officials. W hile the officials resisted the pressure to resign, they did speed up party report and election conferences in a fashion that was arguably quite consistent with Gorbachevs wishes.23 In effect, the well-regulated political tension that Gorbachev had tried but failed to create in the participatory reforms of the 1987 “ Law on State Enterprise” had now been attained in a different, certainly riskier, but also much more successful way.

The A p p a ra t Strikes Back Initially, the States involvement in the politics of the workers’ movement in the Soviet Union consisted largely of attempts by Gorbachev and his reformist supporters to promote and respond to an increasinglv assertive and independent-minded working class. By mid-1989, however, it was clear that a third player, i.e. conservative State and party officials, had actively entered the fray in an attempt to turn the politicization of the Soviet working class to their advantage. Following Gorbachevs example, both official and “unofficial” workers’ organizations have been employed to this end. As for the former, the previousíy moribund trade unions appear to have suddenly sprung to life as the champions of workers’ interests against the “anti-working class” policies of the Gorbachev regime. As for the latter, conservative “united fronts” of workers have been created in various Soviet cities, including Moscow and Leningrad, and in September 1989 the United Workers’ Front of Rússia was founded as an umbrella organization linking the various local fronts.24 Conservative officials have attempted to forge an anti-reform alliance with workers through the trade unions and the “workers’ fronts” on two leveis. First, these organizations have attempted to prey upon workers’ fears and uncertainties regarding the impact of radical economic reform. T h e all-union trade union


Perestroika from Below

leadership has sought to $>peal to workers’ fears of inflation and unemployment by calling for a price freeze on basic consumer goods and Services, restrictions on the export of scarce consumer goods, and the maintenance of a guaranteed right to work.25 A government decision to raise fuel, electricity, and freight prices as of January 1, 1990, was actually suspended in the face of trade union pressure.26 A second, more general appeal to working class suspicions of the intelligentsia has also been made. Some union officials have attacked leading reform intellectuals by name. T h e economist Shmelev was targeted by one such official because Shmelev had criticized the unions not for past formalism but for their newlyfound activism in defending workers’ interests.27 T h e Deputy Chairman of the All-Union Council of Trade Unions criticized the intelligentsia in general for attempts to “belittle the role of the working class” and to force workers “onto the sidelines of political life.”28 Similarly, a supporter of the United Workers’ Front responded to criticism of that body from the Interregional Group of Peoples Deputies with a “street vs. factory” metaphor. W hile the “street” is said to represent a small minority of extremist politicians who have tried to dominate the Congress of Peoples Deputies, the “ factory,” representing the majority of the people, is said to be resisting their appeals.29 As interpreted here, the miners’ strikes of summer 1989 were an attempt by the “ factory” to reclaim the banner o f reform from the “street.” W hat are the chances of success in recruiting the working class to the conservative cause? Soviet critics of the “workers’ fronts” have portrayed them as a desperate and, ultimately, futile attempt by opponents of perestroika to salvage their position, and many Western analysts have concurred with that assessment.30 Nevertheless, one should not completely dismiss the potential for and, indeed, the reality of affinity among some strata of workers for what the conservative forces are saying. There is some social basis within the Soviet working class for the conservative opposition to reform. Even Soviet critics of the “workers’ fronts” admit that they have had some appeal among unskilled workers.31 To the extent that the most radical economic reforms, especially price reform, have yet to be implemented, the support for the “workers’ fronts” may not yet have reached its peak. Put somewhat differently, the failure of conservative forces to attract a criticai mass of support among rank-and-file workers could be a reflection of the success of those very same forces in delaying the implementation of the most radical market reforms. Prime Minister Ryzhkovs rather cautious and, in reform terms, disappointing speech on economic strategy before the Congress of Peoples Deputies in Decem ber 1989 and the failure of the Gorbachev regime to move quickly toward the economic “shock therapy” that many assumed would follow the strengthening of the Soviet presidency in Spring 1990 were the result less of ideological than political timidity.32 Gorbachevs economic advisors seem to know what needs to be done; they are just afraid to do it.33 Gorbachevs decision to include V. Yarin, one of the leaders of the United Front of Workers

Worker Activism: The Role o f the State


of Rússia, in his new presidential advisory council is the clearest indication of Gorbachevs sensitivity to the potential social basis of this movement.34 Overlap of class and nationality issues can also conceivably play into conservative hands. T h e August 1989 decision by the Estonian Supreme Soviet to set tough residency requirements for voters and candidates to Estonian legislative bodies led to strikes among Russian-speaking workers in Estônia.35 More recently, Russian workers throughout the Baltic have gone on strike to protest independence movements in those republics. T h e fact that these strikes may not have been entirely spontaneous but, instead, encouraged and manipulated by conservative state and party apparatchiks only serves to demonstrate how cumulative cleavages along class and ethnic lines have the potential to be played to the advantage of conservative forces. Finally, it should be noted that the split between workers and reform intellectuals, although perhaps exaggerated by supporters of the “workers’ fronts,” is not entirely imaginary. Among the sharpest critics of striking workers in the Supreme Soviet in autumn 1989 were reformist members of the Interregional Group of Deputies. A. Sobchak, the reformist mayor of Leningrad and one of the most prominent members of the Interregional Group, has argued that Gorbachev should have gotten tougher with the strikers. According to Sobchak, We passed a law providing measures for dealing with strikes that are found to be illegal; close the enterprise and fire all those who took part in the illegal strike. Remember how Reagan stopped the air controllers strike. If a strike harms the interests of the people, decisive action must be taken. Not by using the troops but by using the law.36

This split between workers and reform intellectuals is likely to widen to the extent that the issues at hand are less those of glasnost and democratization than those of economic change and social policy. Given their close association with conservative apparatchiks, the “workers’ fronts” and trade unions may never be in a position to benefit from this split and acquire mass worker support. More likely, it is the populist, anti-establishment, egalitarian demagoguery once associated with FTtsin which is most likely to appeal to workers and, in its own way, represent a grassroots ideological and political challenge to reform-minded intellectuals.

Conclusion T h e politics of the workers’ movement in the contemporary Soviet Union reflects a very real struggle between supporters and opponents of reform for the hearts and minds of the Soviet working class. More than simply responding to worker activism, both conservative and reformist Soviet officials have sought to mobilize workers as a weapon in the struggle over the future of Soviet society. Gorbachev began by attempting to promote worker activism in support of his


Perestroika from Below

larger reform agenda, and4*çonservative activists have, more recently, attempted to beat Gorbachev at his owrj game by mobilizing an anti-perestroika constituency within the working class. T h e very nature of Soviet politics has become radically transformed as the field of play has been extended far beyond the Kremlin walls. In the midst of these efforts at mobilization of workers from above, a genuinely autonomous workers' movement has begun to bubble up from below. Although both reformist and çonservative officials have attempted to lay claim to a political kinship with the striking coal miners, the fact is that the demands and methods of the miners gave both sides of Soviet officialdom cause to be wary. Keeping control over the social forces that they have unleashed will be difficult for both reformers and conservatives alike. T h e greatest irony in this situation is that Gorbachevs promotion of worker activism and, more generally, his support of political reform, while initially intended to spur economic restructuring, now threaten to undermine efforts at economic change. On the one hand, the new political climate has allowed workers and others fearful of the economic dislocations associated with market reforms to mobilize and effectively to voice their concerns. O n the other hand, the strikes by coal miners and other Soviet workers are themselves, at least indirectly, a consequence of Gorbachevs political reform strategy. Given that those strikes have served to further cripple an already lame Soviet economy, the economic dislocation and political dangers associated with a radical economic “shock therapy” have become all the greater. Thus, the movement toward a market economy in the Soviet Union will require a carefully calibrated approach to containing worker activism— one which limits its economic harm but which also does not go so far as to unravel the foundation of openness and legality on which the entire Gorbachev era has been premised.

Notes 1. “ Pervaia sessiia verkhnovnogo soveta SSSR,” Pravda (July 25, 1989), 1. 2. “ Zakon o gosudarstvennom predpriiatii (ob”edinenii),” Izvestiia (July 1, 1987), 1­ 4. 3. “ V novykh usloviiakh khoziastvovaniia,” Pravda (January 8, 1987), 1. 4. Tatiana Zaslavskaia, “ Socio-economic aspects of perestroika” Soviet Economy 3:4 (O ctober-D ecem ber 1987), 3 3 0 -3 3 1 . 5. “ V kollektive kazhdyi na vidu,” Pravda (January 9, 1987), 1. 6. Similarly, some observers, both Soviet and Western, have suggested that Brezhnev had lost control over his bureaucratic allies. An interesting analysis of Brezhnev-era politics which paints a picture of a weak leadership whose main concern was keeping the various bureaucratic interests happy is found in F. Burlatskii, “ Brezhnev and the end of the thavv: refiections on the nature of political leadership,” in I. J. Tarasulo (ed.), Gorbachev and

Glasnost: Viewpoints from the Soviet Press (Wilmington, D E : Scholarly Resources, 1989), 5 0 -6 3 . 7. “Job rationalization problems viewed,” FBIS Daily Report (January 22 , 1988), 49.

Worker Activism: The Role o f the State


8. “ Letters on discipline, approaches of reform,” FB1S Daily Report (February 3, 1988), 49. 9. “Workers, leaders polled on restructuring,” FB1S Daily Report (August 12, 1988), 52. 10. See, for example, the two-part article by L. Ponomarev and V. Shinkarenko, “Chem silen biurokrat?” Izvestiia (May 18, 1988), 3; and “ Kto kogo?” Izvestiia (May 19, 1988), 3. 11. Cited in John F. Burns, “A rude dose of reality for Gorbachev,” New York Times (February 21, 1989), A3. 12. “Miners’ strike: grappling with its import,” Current Digest o f the Soviet Press 41:3 0 (August 23, 1989), 6. 13. Ibid., 16-17. 14. Cited in Elizabeth Teague, “ Embryos of peoples power,” Report on the USSR 1:32 (August 11, 1989), 1. 15. N. Lisovenko, “ Donbass: V ozhidanii resheniia,” Izvestiia (July 19, 1989), 6. 16. “ Miners’ strike: grappling . . . ,” 6. 17. Ibid. 18. “ Pervaia sessiia verkhnovnogo soveta SSSR,” Pravda (July 20 , 1989), 1. 19. See Jerry Hough, “ Gorbachev s politics,” Foreign Affairs 68:5 (Winter 1989/1990), 34. 20. “Zakon o poriadke razresheniia kollektivnykh trudovykh sporov (konfliktov),” Izvestiia (October 14, 1989), 1. 21. See, for example, D. Valovoi, “ Otkrytyi razgovor: o vstreche N. I. Ryzhkova s shakhterami,” Pravda (November 19, 1989), 2. 22. V. Filippov, “ Priamaia sviaz’: zakon odin dlia shakhtera i ministra,” Izvestiia (November 9, 1989), 2. 23. “ Soglasie poka ne dostignuto,” Pravda (March 3, 1990), 2. 24. For details on activities of the trade unions and “workers’ fronts” see the chapter in this volume by Judith Sedaitis. 25. “ Shalaiev endorses price control resolution,” FBIS Daily Report (December 18, 1989), 1 1 8 -1 2 0 ; and “A U C C T U s lanayev on unions’ role, elections,” FBIS Daily Report (December 26, 1989), 7 0 -7 2 . 26. “Government resolves price issue with trade unions,” FBIS Daily Report (March 9, 1990), 59. 27. “ Criticisms of trade union organs discussed,” FBIS Daily Report (December 15, 1989), 98. 28. “A U C C T U s lanayev . . . ” 72. 29. “ Labor front girds for political battle,” Current Digest o f the Soviet Press 41:43 (November 22, 1989), 9 -1 0 . 30. See chapter by Sedaitis. 31. “ United Workers’ Front view of elections,” FBIS Daily Report (December 20. 1989), 92. 32. Ryzhkovs speech was published as “ Effektivnost’, konsolidatsiia, reforma— put’ k zdorovoi ekonomike: Doklad N. I. Ryzhkova,” Pravda (December 14, 1989), 2 -4 . 33. Both the necessity and dangers of radical economic reforms were refiected in the program for reform outlined by L. I. Abalkin in October 1989. See “A master plan to


Perestroika from Below

get reform on track,” Curreftt Digest o f theJSoviet Press 4 1 :4 6 (December 13, 1989), 1 0i5.

‘ ‘ 34. Bill Keller, “ Gorbachev picks a new cabinet,” New York Times (March 26, 1989),

A16. 35. “ Estônia s voting law sparks Russian strikes,” Current Digest o f the Soviet Press 41:32 (September 6, 1989), 6 - 8 . 36. Cited in Bill Keller, “ Law professor takes Soviets by storm,” New York Times (November 26, 1989), A3.

4 Political Mobilization in the Russian Countryside: Creating Social Movements from Above D o n V an A tta

Although the Russian countryside is one of the final strongholds of the old Soviet party-state apparatus, the process of political mobilization initiated by perestroika has reached the village. Expansion of the political arena to eneompass so many new players will have fundamental effects on the political system. Following Barrington Moores classic argument about the effects of agrarian change on political coalitions and social-structural outcomes, it may be asserted that the results of the current Soviet reform process depend critically on how Soviet peasants are mobilized into the new national politics of the U S S R .1 T h e particular ways in which the political and economic organization of the countryside and the social and ethnic divisions of the peasantry shape political organizations will be a crucial factor in the outcome of the entire process of political and economic transformation begun by perestroika. This paper begins by considering the situation of the Soviet peasant within the large kolkhozes and sovkhozes (collective and state farms, respectively). In some ways, Soviet peasants are like peasants in any modernizing agrarian society. In other ways, however, they are very like the Soviet working class in the cities in attitudes and political experience, This duality helps to explain the emerging pattern of politics in the Russian countryside. Next, the history of the kolkhoz councils, existing corporatist institutions for political representation of agricultures interests to the central authorities, is discussed. T h e traditional utilization of these

Research assistance by LynnErin McNeil and Jennifer Hampton, travei support from the Academic Council of Hamilton College, and the opportunity to accompany a team from the Curry Foundation engaged in the initial stage of a research trip to study problems of land reform in the Soviet Union are gratefully acknowledped.



Perestroika from Below

organizations as “transrqlssion belts,” with Communications flows moving exclusively “downward” and attempfred representation of interests “ upward” bv independent groups, has done much to shape the new rural politics. Then the development of several new agrarian organizations is examined. T h e creation of a new national legislature, the Congress of Peoples Deputies, led naturally in 1989 to the establishment of a parliamentary group of agrarian deputies, a faction formed after the Congress had convened for parliamentary maneuvering. At first the agrarian deputies had no ties to potential support groups outside the Congress except those provided by their individual extra-parliamentary positions (as kolkhoz chairmen or partv apparatchiks, for instance). But the process of drafting new laws on leasing, property, and especially land split the agrarian deputies into supporters and opponents of individual farming. As a result, various groups of deputies became associated with new extra-parliamentary organizations, including the Association of Peasant Farms and Cooperatives of Rússia (A KK O R), the U SSR Peasant Union, and the Peasant Party of Rússia. T h e implications of these organizations for the expansion of political participation and “democratization” in the U SSR , the chances that they will be integrated into the system as state corporatist bodies, perhaps assuming more and more of the administrative functions of the old party-state mechanism, or become more independent of the state and representaiive of various interests in the countryside, are examined next. Finally, the implications of these developments for the ongoing reform struggle in the Soviet Union are briefly considered.

The Soviet Peasant Peasants are usually the most conservative part of any population. Marx observed that peasants’ lives give them no experience of collective action, so they form a class in the same way that potatoes fill a sack: as individual lumps with nothing holding them together but the bag. Opponents of the political and economic reforms now under way in the Soviet Union, such as former Communist Party Central Committee Secretary Egor Ligachev, have approvingly cited rural conservatism as a healthy counter-example to the volatility of Soviet coal miners and other workers. “Peasants in the villages are engaged in work and in creation. Fortunately, they are not striking and they are not rallving.”2 (Ligachev did not complain when farm managers and local officials threatened to withhold their produce in order to extort better prices from urban suppliers, however.’) In early 1990. Izvestiia all but apologized for the lack of contested candidacies in the countryside and the tendency for rural constituencies to return more apparatchiki to the new republican Congresses of Peoples’ Deputies.4 Soviet peasants share many of the attitudes and conditions of life all peasants suspicious of change. Moreover, for the past sixty years been organized in state and collective farms subject to the will of their These kolkhozy and sovkhozy are in many respects “total institutions,” rank-and-file farmers live and work with little choice or control over

that make they have superiors.5 where the their own

Political Mobilization


lives.6 Akhmadzhan Adylovs State farm in Uzbekistan provides a particularly poignant example of a farm managers power over his workers. Adylov threw peasants into his private jail at his whim, set them to building endless, useless rock walls as penal labor, and even made people “disappear” if they complained.7 T h e best farms may be the most intrusive in individual lives, since they rely on especially close supervision and harsh sanctions to achieve their good results.8 Farm specialists and managers, as well as district and provincial party and State officials, have used not only direct coercion, but also their control over almost all the resources needed for peasant life, to build constituencies among the peasantry.y For kolkhoz and sovkhoz peasants trapped within the centrally-enforced farm structure, therefore, as for traditional peasants with their strong village communities, “ mere cultural contact with a national marketing system or other modern institutions” has not released them “ from institutionalized procedures which have prevented outside participation.” 10 So Soviet peasants have little experience of autonomous political organization. Yet just saying that Soviet peasants, like all peasants, are conservative, hard to organize, and trapped in social structures which limit their political participation is clearly too simple. Because they have lived in large, quasi-industrial institutions for so long, Soviet farm workers are not like traditional individual peasant farmers. Their experience is more like that of piece-rate laborers in early twentieth-century capitalist industry. In fact, one standard complaint about the kolkhoz and sovkhoz population is that they have been “de-peasantized,” turned into day laborers.11 T h e labor and social elite, the farm machinery operators, are treated as workers who happen to work in agriculture, at least partly because they can and do take their skills to the cities. (As of 1989, about two-thirds of the more than twenty million Soviet peasants did manual work.12) Although peasants’ movements have been even more controlled than those of urban residents, the massive flow of labor from the countryside to the cities in the past fifty years and the regimes own efforts to reach rural communities with mass media for propaganda purposes give almost all Soviet peasants ties to the cities. Since the mid-1960s, the welfare measures earlier provided to the urban working class have been largely extended to the peasants as well, making them at least junior partners in the Brezhnevera “social contract” between regime and workers.13 T h e traditional “participatory” mechanisms of managed elections and party work have also involved the countryside as they have the cities. In these ways, the political experience of rural residents is likely to differ little from that of their urban cousins. But if Soviet peasants are like Soviet workers in many important ways, the political structures which control them have some important differences. During the Stalin era, Soviet peasants were effectively held outside of politics by the repressive structure of the kolkhozy. Khrushchevs attempts to restructure farm administration and then Brezhnevs extension of the social contract to the peasants aimed to include them in the overall political system as equals with city dwellers. Peasant inclusion was recognized by the creation of a hierarchy of representative


Perestroika from Below

bodies, the kolkhoz councils. Thesé^ “elected” bodies served as a secondary transmission belt for party-state commands, alongside the network of party and ministerial agencies charged with responsibility for agricultural management, while allowing controlled input by the most successful farm managers and model workers. T h e structure and functions of the kolkhoz councils closely correspond to Philippe Schmitters definition of “corporatism” : . . . a system of interest representaiion in which the constituent units are organized into a limited number of singular, compulsory, non-competitive, hierarchically ordered and functionally differentiated categories recognized and licensed (if not created) by the state and granted a deliberate representational monopoly within their respective categories in exchange for observing certain Controls on their selection of leaders and articulation of demands and supports.14

In return for limited incíusion in the system (the ability to make decisions about technical issues of proper agronomy, etc.), the kolkhoz and sovkhoz leadership was expected to speak for all peasants. Social conflicts within the farms (especially those between the farm managers, specialists, and model workers one the one hand, and the rank-and-file on the other) and conflicts between farms or rural districts were repressed; instead a facade of solidarity was presented, in that all of agriculture was unified and wholly represented. In the period 1 9 8 8 -1 9 9 0 , the imposed solidarity of the countryside began to break apart. Changes in the farms’ externai environment have combined with pressures from within the farms to challenge the old system of agrarian organization.15 T h e dismantling of the Staíinist “command-administrative” economic system begun in 1987 has forced the farms to act on their own, something for which they are institutionally ill-suited and which makes their leaders uncomfortable. Urban industries have repeatedly raised prices for farm inputs to cover their own expenses, as they must now make profits. At the same time, those city enterprises are less willing to mobilize their labor force to do the unpaid harvest labor on which many farms have depended. Conflicts among regions have emerged. Not only are the various national republics organizing, but different regions of the ethnic Russian areas of the country are turning on one another as the irrationality of pricing and supply schemes becomes increasingly apparent. W ithin the farms, conflicts between the farm managers and specialists and some of their formerly docile model workers, who are naturally those selected by the local party to initiate new land-leasing arrangements, are paralleled by conflicts between the entire kolkhoz elite and the rank-and-file. Ordinary peasants both resent the farm elite and fear the consequences if the limited security offered by the farm disappears. Under the provisions of the 1988 law on cooperatives and 1989 and 1990 legislation on leasing and land tenure, individuais and voluntarily-organized coop­ eratives are now allowed to set up their own farms. They face a myriad of obstacles in doing so, from existing farms’ control of land and resources to a popular mood

Political Mobilization


that frequently considers such individualists the worst kind of speculators.16 But a few hardy villagers have begun to take up individual farming, and a few others have returned to the land from the cities. To succeed, these pioneers still need powerful political protectors, but some people continue to come forward when they see a chance of success.17 Thus agrarian reform is being pushed from “below” as well as “above”— but neither “levei” can succeed without the other. Nor can the overall process succeed unless the peasants can be “broken out” of the existing farm structure. Regional and national peasant associations and parties have begun to appear to fill the gap left by the decline of the Stalinist order. But the future of those organizations is highly uncertain. All have begun as largely urban organizations, partly based on factions within and around the old Communist Party elite, and now seek to develop a broader rural base. As the single-party state breaks apart, these new organizations may become more like the usual associational interest groups in democratic Systems, representing only some peasants. A K K O R is such a pressure group, explicitly designed to defend the interests of the new leaseholders and agricultural cooperatives against both the state and the farm management. Or the new agrarian organizations may develop into substitutes for the old commandadministrative agencies. As such, the U SSR Peasant Union seeks to include all peasants and farm managers in a single representative agency which could take over many of the functions of the old apparatus. Finally, the developing groups may seek to represent the sectoral interests of all rank-and-file peasants, uniting “plowman, smith, and miller,” against the “ Red Lords” who manage the collective and state farms and claims from other social forces, as the Peasant Party of Rússia seeks to do.18 Leaders of these various groups are vociferously at odds on the future of the kolkhoz-sovkhoz System in the Soviet countryside. Some A K KO R and Peasant Party leaders are closely aligned with the Interregional Group of Deputies, while some leaders of the Peasants Union, such as the chairman of its Latvian group, Albert Kauls, are prominent “ mainstream” politicians (Kauls sits on the Presidential Council). So it is tempting to see the groups as opposing forces. But they also exist in a kind of symbiosis as everyone concemed tries to find ways out of the food crisis and the larger economic crisis caused by the exhaustion and crash of the Soviet command economy.

The K olkhoz Councils T h e system of agricultural management that evolved during and after collectivization in the 193Os was designed to prevent autonomous activity by the new kolkhozy and their managers.19 But farm leadership has always sought to increase its freedom of action in relation to higher officials. Because of their historical origins, collective farm councils and unions have been acceptable devices for farm managers’ input into regime decisions. Managers of “good” farms, those which have been successful under the old system, have been especially vocal in favoring


Perestroika from Below

such unions and councils’, both because they have been encouraged to speak for agriculture because of their success and because that success itself has been achieved through constant struggle with local and central party and state officials whose ability to control plan targets and supply allocations has frequently frustrated the good managers. In the late 1920s and early 193Os Soviet collective farms were organized in “ unions/’ a hierarchy of associations topped by the all-union Kolkhoztsentr. Although a quasi-official body, the Kolkhoztsentr served as an intermediary between the farms and the state authorities, as well as an intermediary between the farms and market. As free markets in foodstuffs and industrial crops were replaced by state plan assignments in the 1930s, Kolkhoztsentr became a perceived obstacle to state control of the countryside, an agency which not only represented the center to the periphery but also provided a conduit for local and regional interests to reach the decision-makers. T h e kolkhoz unions and Kolkhoztsentr were abolished in the early 193Os, replaced by new agencies which were more likely to function as transmission belts in only one direction, from the center to the farms. Control over the farms and farmers was entrusted to the Machine-Tractor Stations (M T S ) and the party rural district committees. T h e kolkhoz union idea was briefly revived after World War II when the U SSR Kolkhoz Council was established to assist in reimposing collectivization. However, after its first two years of operation, the Kolkhoz Council became moribund, and it was officially dissolved in 1953. T h e idea of kolkhoz unions appeared again in the late 195Os during the debate on the future of the Machine-Tractor Stations. T h e councils were then understood to offer a way for farms to organize to defend their own interests within the context of command agriculture while substituting for the M T S and ministerial hierarchies as instruments of central control. T h e idea was not adopted, presumably because the national leadership feared that the councils would escape its control.20 A nationwide network of kolkhoz councils was finally established in 1969 as part of Brezhnevs apparent liberalization of agricultural policy.21 These councils were thoroughly dominated by agricultural managers, however. Ministers of agri­ culture, or comparable officials at lower leveis, were automatically elected to chair them. T h e network of councils has existed and functioned continuously since the early 1970s. Although they clearly embody the corporatist duality of interest representation and policy implementation, the kolkhoz councils’ activities until recently have been limited to issues of agronomy and internai kolkhoz organization.22

Emergence of the “Agrarian Deputies” T h e election campaign for the first Congress of Peoples Deputies which unfolded following the adoption of constitutional amendments providing for the new parliament in late 1988 marked the emergence of a new national political forum.23 T h e elections turned out to be controversial and several cities developed

Political Mobilization


strong insurgent political movements. But resistance to the nomenklaturas traditional management of elections during the campaign was most apparent in the large cities. Although oblast (regional) party bosses fared badly in the Congress elections in many areas of the country, it seems that kolkhoz chairmen and sovkhoz directors were returned in large numbers, as would be expected given their control over their own electorates. These election trends probably helped to liberate the farm managers from their traditional dependent alliance on local officials, since the farm managers were more numerous in the first Congress. In at least one case a popular front supported a sovkhoz director as an insurgent candidate.24 T h e victorious candidate in that case was Dmitrii Starodubtsev, whose popularity was ensured because of his long history of persecution by local party officials. These personal qualities made him attractive even though his career as a successful farm manager made him representative of a social group that, in other circumstances, would be unlikely to agree with a popular fronts views. This electoral pattern fits with the circumstances of that first election. T h e only previous experience of electoral choice and campaign organization since the I930s had occurred less than a year earlier, in the maneuvering that preceded the Twentieth Party Conference. By the time the Congress elections occurred, party control had been challenged to an extent that political factions could begin to develop. Samuel Huntington has perceptively described such political groupings: Individuais and groups break out of the traditional patterns of political behavior, but they have not vet developed modern political organizations. Politics involves a small number of people competing with each other in a large number of weak, transitory alliances and groupings. The groupings . . .

are . . .

the projections of individual

ambitions in the context of personal and family rivalries and affiliations.25

Because the electoral movements were scattered and uncoordinated, personal ties, and joint hatred of the nomenklatura, were more significant determinants of electoral support or opposition than any program or party affiliation. Even before the opening of the First Congress of Peoples Deputies in June 1989, some candidates from agricultural areas thought it might be necessary to organize a deputies’ group to defend agricultural interests. In a pre-Congress interview, V.A. Starodubtsev, long-time chairman of the successful Lenin Kolkhoz in Tula oblast, and also chairman of the All-Russian Kolkhoz Council, declared himself ready to fight for the interests of the peasantry if “things developed towards a struggle for each stratums interests without considering the others.”26 Given the context, this development was also expected. As Huntington comments, In [developing] political systems with legislatures the factions are oriented to ma­ neuvering in the legislature rather than to campaigning in the constituency. They are parliamentary not electoral organizations. Typically they are formed within the legislature by successful candidates after they are elected. . . . Candidates are elected


Perestroika from Below as individuais on the basis of their social o r economic status and appeal. The legislative faction or clique then beoomes a means of linking them to other political activists, not a means of linking political activists to the masses.

Vasilii Starodubtsevs call for representatives of the countryside, meaning mostly successful farm chairmen like himself, to unite to protect their interests was therefore a natural extension of Starodubtsevs previous commitment to political representation for his groups interests. This call was also an expected development, given the usual tendencies of party evolution in societies in which there have been no political parties (or, in this case, in which there is a single administrative organization masquerading as a party). T h e Congress’ organization of committees gave the rural representatives an institutional base. Since committee appointments were based on professional qualifications and extra-parliamentary positions, successful farm managers and profes­ sional agricultural economists dominated the Supreme Soviet Committee on Agrarian Problems, which was created at the first session of the new U SSR Supreme Soviet in June 1989.27 T h e committee chairman, Arkadii Veprev, directs a sovkhoz in Krasnoiarsk krai. This committee was one of two which rejected Prime Minister Ryzhkovs nominees for the reformed Council of Ministers in July 1989, establishing the principie that the new parliament could refuse to confirm ministerial nominations. Vladimir Kalashnikov, a former Gorbachev client and party first secretary in Volgograd oblast , was condemned as absolutely unfit to run the countrys agriculture. He was later ejected from his Volgograd job after what amounted to a popular uprising in January 1990.28 T h e Com m ittees preferred choice for the countrys chief agricultural official was Starodubtsev, although eventually another professional politician, Vladilen Nikitin, won approval.29 Many of the rural deputies at the First Congress of Peoples Deputies expressed unhappiness with its disorganization and concern for broad philosophical and political issues rather than what they saw as the immediate, practical demands of the countrys economic crisis. As a result of this perceived lack of attention, some 417 “agrarian deputies” (deputaty-agrarniki) issued a manifesto on peasant interests, demanding immediate attention to their concerns, at the end of May 1989. In particular, they called for immediate reform (meaning a reduction) of the prices paid by farms for equipment and other inputs. T h e manifesto also demanded that the Congress take up these agrarian issues as its first order of business.30 Despite the categorical nature of their demands, the agrarian deputies' manifesto was supported by at least some rural party organizations. Their concerns fit with the emerging conservative line (articulated, in particular, by Ligachev) on improving food supplies: allow the existing sovkhozy and kolkhozy greater managerial independence, while paying them more for their produce and preventing their breakup into individual farms. T h e agrarian deputies also seem to have represented some of the more “conservative” tendencies at the Congress on the broader issues of democratization and limiting party dominance of the Soviet state, and their demands

Political Mobilization


were limited to working within the framework of that state in part to heacl off challenges to it. This is not to say that all agrarian deputies are convinced ideologues or “party hacksB although some may be. Rather, their concern to make agriculture work better quickly tends to drive them toward “ reasonable” positions which shade into opposition to any real reform because of its disruptive effects. Indeed, the agrarian deputies have little use for the professional party workers, whose interference in management simply makes the deputies' lives more difficult— and yet the agrarian deputies at the first Congress were primarily people who had made their careers in the old party-state system of command agriculture, even while they disliked it. T h e Congress of Peoples’ Deputies promised that its next session would make agriculture a priority. Meanwhile, a proposal to pay farms hard currency for aboveplan deliveries was adopted in August 1989.31 Gorbachev and Prime Minister Ryzhkov met with a group of agrarian deputies during the Second Congress of Peoples’ Deputies in Decem ber 1989.32 But, although the agrarian deputies may have been the best-organized faction at the Second Congress, there were few other signs of the promised concern for agriculture in that sessions agitated debates over the economy and the proper political structure for the country.33

The Land Law Debate During the first session of the Congress of Peoples’ Deputies in June and July of 1989, the agrarian deputies had been united in their demands for more resources for agriculture and an end to party interference in agricultural management. However, the debate on the U SSR Law on Land in the fali and winter of 1989— 1990 polarized the agrarian deputies. Once the parliamentary agrarian deputies split into relatively stable groups, each side sought to “mobilize additional social forces into politics on their side”— leading to the creation and definition of the various extraparliamentary political groups described later in this chapter.34 Drafting work began in August, and several alternate drafts of the law were proposed to the Committee on Agrarian Questions and Food Supply in early October 1989. One carne from the Council of Ministers, a second from a drafting group at the All-Union Lenin Agricultural Academy (VA SKhN IL) headed by its President Aleksandr Nikonov, a third from VA SK hN IL Academician Vladimir Tikhonov, and a fourth from an Astrakhan oblast school teacher, Vladimir Reutov.35 Reportedly, “ecologists“ proposed yet another draft.36 Although the draft texts are not available for comparison, we know that the principal differences between them concerned the related questions of allowing private ownership of land and the need for a general land reform. Tikhonov s draft, the most radical of the four, would apparently not have explicitly allowed private ownership of land, but it would have permitted individual control of the land amounting to private ownership. He sought to take control. management, and use of the land (which he defined


Perestroika from Below

as the three componenV parts of zemlevladenie, or land ownership) away from the state.?7 ' Since the kolkhozy and sovkhozy held almost all agricultural land with the right of “permanent use/’ breaking the state monopoly of land ownership would require a land reform— the redistribution of farmland to those willing to work it. T h e underlying issue in the debate on the Land Law became whether and how to conduct a land reform which would remove the land and production facilities from the control of the existing kolkhozy and sovkhozy. Most politically-active kolkhoz and sovkhoz managers naturally united to defend the existing situation and, thereby, their own power. T h e Supreme Soviet adopted the final Law on Land on February 28, 1990. All of its parts formally went into effect on March 15, 1990, except the article covering leasing and taxation, which became effective on January 1, 1991. T h e U SSR Council of Ministers was to identify unused and irrationally-used lands, create or strengthen state agencies for monitoring land use, and develop a special program of support for peasant farms by August 1, 1990. T h e government was also to bring existing legislation into accord with the new law and to propose whatever additional legislation might be necessary by October 1, 1990.38 The Despite adopted So the

U SSR Land Law, however, was only a statement of basic principies. a demand from radical deputies that a law on land reform should be simultaneously, no implementing legislation was passed in the spring.39 struggle over agrarian reform, the introduction of private ownership of

land, and the future organization of the countryside devolved to the union republics. T h e debate on the land law energized the existing kolkhoz and sovkhoz elite to defend their dominant position in the countryside. T h e U SSR Kolkhoz Council became highly politicized. According to a broadcast account of a session held in January 1990, both VA SK hN IL President Aleksandr Nikonov and Vladimir T ikhonov were roundly condemned by those present for betraying socialism. T h e Council declared that fighting the new law was its primary priority.40 T h e Russian Kolkhoz Council Presidium adopted a resolution condemning statements in the mass media which insulted the kolkhoz system and demanding that the Central Committee consider the wisdom of continuing to allow Iurii Chernichenko to appear as an agricultural commentator on television.41 Chernichenko, a party member, U SSR Peoples’ Deputy, and one of the principal hosts of the weekly “ Rural Hour” program, had repeatedly spoken in favor of individual farming. (The conservative group of farm managers continued to single out Chernichenko as an enemy. Six months later, the agrarian section of the Twenty-eighth Party Congress, chaired by Starodubtsev, demanded an accounting of Chernichenkos views, leading the writer to observe bitterly that he was the only person ever forced to speak to the Party Congress.)42 T h e continuing land law dispute also gave the Russian republican agrarian deputies’ group a clearer, and more conservative, political definition. Republican elections were held in March 1990. O n April 21, 1990, approximately 120 deputies

Political Mobilization


to the new Russian Republican Congress of Peoples Deputies met in the offices of the Russian Republican State Agro-Industrial Committee (Gosagroprom) to work out their line of action at the Russian Congress. After heated discussion, they organized themselves as a formal parliamentary fraction. M . Lapshin, a Moscow-area sovkhoz director, was elected chairman of the group.48 Their concerns, their choice of a meeting place, and the presence of sênior officials of the Russian Republic State committee on agriculture suggested that these deputies were not by any means radical opponents of the existing system of agricultural organization. In accord with the growing self-definition of the agrarian deputies as a conservative group, the Russian Republic Committee on the Social Development of the Village, Agrarian Problems and Food Supplies is markedly more united in its opposition to land reform, which would threaten the existing farms’ control over arable land, than is its all-union analog.44

New Agrarian Organizations A KKOR In order to solve the increasingly severe food-supply crisis in the Soviet Union and maintain support and order in the cities, Gorbachev has advocated increasingly radical changes in the organization of the Soviet countryside.45 At the March 1989 Central Committee plenum he laid out a ‘'new agrarian program” which recognized the right of individual peasant farms or “farmer-type farms” (fermerskie khoziaistva) and rural production cooperatives to exist independently of the kolkhozy and sovkhozy.46 But in practice individuais or small groups wishing to establish their own farms on a lease basis have been able to do so only by renting land from the State and collective farms. Farm authorities insisted on within-farm leases, forcing the lease-holders to deal with them for supplies, Services and sale of produce. T h e lease structure required farmers who wish to use the state and collective farms’ land and productive assets to rent them, although in theory the land belongs to the people and, as writer Anatolii Ananev pointed out, they have already paid an enormous price for them during the past century— in money after the emancipation of the serfs in 1863, and in blood during the Revolution and the Civil War.47 Responding to the need for an organization to defend leaseholders and individual farmers against the local authorities, a group of prominent agricultural economists and chairmen of newly-organized independent agricultural cooperatives proposed an association of peasant farms in mid-June 1989.48 T h e call was signed by Aleksei Emel’ianov, Vladimir Tikhonov, Vladimir Bashmachnikov, A. Berdyshev, Vladimir Vershinin, Vladimir Efimov, Tim ur Kadyrov and Iu. Soglaev. Em el’ianov, who became chairman of the organizing committee for the new organization and later its president, heads the Department of Agricultural Economics at Moscow State University and is deputy chairman of the U SSR Supreme Soviets Commission


Perestroika from Below

on Agrarian Problems.* Tikhonov, who was elected chairman of the All-union Association of Cooperativbs in the Spheres of Production and Services (the Union of United Cooperatives [see Darrell Sliders chapter in this volume]) at that body s founding congress in July 1989, has been arguing for small independent farm labor collectives since the 1960s.49 Bashmachnikov, a “consultant” to the Central Committees Socio-Economic Department since 1983, and Vershinin, whose advocacy of individual leases cost him his job at the All-Union Research ínstitute of Agricultural Economics in 1989,50 were both Tikhonovs students. Efimov teaches in the department of the U SSR Academy of the National Economy chaired by Tikhonov. Kadyrov heads the agricultural cooperative “ Sniatinka,” in the Zagorsk district of Moscow oblast. A former sovkhoz , Kadyrovs farm was the first newstyle agricultural cooperative in the Soviet Union.51 O n July 2 8 - 3 0 , 1989, 222 delegates attended the Constituent Conference of the Association of Peasant Farms and Cooperatives of Rússia (A KKOR) in the main conference room of the Izvestiia editorial ofhces in Moscow.52 Bashmachnikov explained to a Soviet T V repórter after the meeting that the new, independent organization would unite individual peasant farms and agricultural leasing coop­ eratives: “ Since the ofhcial state system pays no attention to them, they must organize themselves, must join together, must defend their interests.” Above all, the new association would seek, “through representaiives in the Soviets,” the adoption of laws which would give individual farms and lease cooperatives the same economic and political rights as the existing collective and state farms.53 T h e conference planned a second meeting before the end of 1989 as the formal “constituent congress” of A K K O R .54 Meanwhile, local associations were to be set up throughout the country. By January 1990, some thirty-three regional affiliates of A K K O R had been established,55 including the Moscow Peasant Union for the capital oblast56 and an organization of agricultural cooperatives and family farms for Sibéria.57 Coordinate republican associations were founded in other republics as well. According to Izvestiia, the conference which set up the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, Peasant Farms, and Organizations of A rendatory of Belorussia almost failed. Representaiives of the republican Gosagroprom bitterly opposed the disorganized individual farmers (chastniki). Had it not been for the presence of a “ hand of Moscow,” A K K O R organizing committee member Bashmachnikov, the delegates would have gone home without establishing anything. One of the worries expressed by the agricultural bureaucrats was the fear that the new union would become an alternate political party. Bashmachnikov responded that the founders of the new union had too many “purely professional” worries about getting their farms going to play politics, and, in any case, such organizations showed that the masses were waking up and becoming the real masters of the country. “Should we fear this?” he asked the repórter.58 T h e Association of Peasant Farms and Agricultural Cooperatives of Kazakhstan was set up “by analogy with” the Russian one.59 More than 300 delegates from

Political Mobilization


all the republic s oblasts attended the constituent conference. Election of its chairman was controversial. Republican Supreme Soviet Chairman Nazarbaev, following the old kolkhoz council script, nominated the chairman of the republican Gosagroprom to head the new organization. After repeated ballots, the chairman of the republican state committee on labor and wages, S. Dzhandosov, was elected from a field of three candidates. According to a report of the meeting, he is “known in Kazakhstan for his independent position.” T h e Kazakh Associations council was carefully balanced, including eight proprietors (vladeVtsev) of peasant farms and nine rural cooperators among its twenty-five members.60 Roughly 250 delegates to the constituent congress of A K K O R finally assembled in Moscow on January 22, 1990.61 In their three days of work, they set up the legal framework of the organization and heard major speeches from Emebianov, Bashmachnikov, Kadyrov and agricultural economist Ivan F. Suslov.62 Aleksei EmePianov was elected A K K O R s president. Vladimir Bashmachnikov and the head of the agricultural department of Izvestiia, Igor’ Abakumov, became vicepresidents.63 Vladimir Tikhonov, the writer Iurii Chernichenko, and Arkadii Veprev attended.64 Although Em erianovs assault on the Communist Party at the First Congress of Peoples Deputies in June 1989 brought him national attention, the A K KO R founding congress clearly indicated that A K K O R was to be a social and economic organizatiòn, not primarily a political one. Its members did not rule out political activity, but they rejected the claims, reportedly made by some “opponents of the creation of an independent organization” before the Congress, “that A K K O R is a peasants’ party in all but name.”65 There are at least four likely reasons why the Congress chose to emphasize A K K O Rs non-political nature. O ne is that many of the peasant farmers in the country really may have believed that their tasks were organizational and economic, not political. Certainly the new individual farmers have plenty to do to get their farmsteads operating. Much of A K K O R s planned activity aimed to help new farmers; a legal consultation Service, training courses, and eventually the organization of supply and sales cooperatives were explicitly mentioned in the organizations charter.66 Second, A K K O R claimed not to be a party in order to avoid a direct challenge to the leading role of the Communist Party just when the party leadership itself was almost ready to jettison the concept, as the party did at its February 1990 plenum. Why make it harder for the Communist Party leadership by seeming to create a new party so openly? A third reason, almost certainly the most important one, is that A K K O R is tied not only to the Central Committee through Bash­ machnikov but also to the Interregional Group of Deputies, the politically amorphous group of “opposition” deputies in the first three Congresses of Peoples Deputies, through its president Emebianov and undoubtedly through other members as well. For their purposes, the appropriate political cleavage is apparatchiki against reformers in all spheres of the society and economy. Although EmePianov himself later in the year helped to found the Peasant Party of Rússia, at this time these radicais


Perestroika from Below

probably wanted to prevônt A K K O R {rom becoming a representative of narrow agrarian interests. Finally, “ non-political” status was probably a price paid for the official governmental recognition shown by Prime Minister Ryzhkovs meeting with a delegation from the A K K O R founding congress. At the meeting Emebianov emphasized that Soviet individual farmers were not seeking enemies in the kolkhozy and sovkhozy, but integration into the existing system, the achievement of equal rights with it.67 (Despite these conciliatory positions, the Communist Party was not ready to recognize A K K O R. According to a participant in the founding Congress, Central Committee Secretary Egor Stroev, then the junior agricultural secretary, was invited to attend. He refused, advising the organizers to get Ligachev, the sênior secretary for agriculture at the time, to come instead. Not very surprisingly, neither man appeared.) A K K O R began, predictably enough, less as a Western-style mass party than as a grouping of journalists, professional agricultural economists, and a few pioneering farmers. T h e organizing committee for A K K O R made one of its first concerns the elaboration of a draft Russian Republic Law on Peasant Farms which would give individual peasants legal protection.68 T h e draft was debated at the January 1990 constituent congress and transmitted to the Russian Republic Supreme Soviet for action.69 However, the old Supreme Soviet ignored it, and the legislation began to be considered only after the new, relatively freely elected Russian parliament began its first session in May 1990. T h e “agreed” draft of the Law on the Peasant Farm, with two variants of the key article on conditions under which peasants may leave the kolkhozy and sovkhozy, one by A K K O R and one from the Russian Republic Parliaments Agrarian Committee, appeared in print in August 1990.70 A K K O R had to rely on the support of powerful patrons, the party Central Committee and Izvestiia, first to establish itself it all and then to avoid being coopted by anti-reform apparatchiki — as almost happened in Kazakhstan. T h e organization still has only a relatively small base of potential members. As of April 1, 1990, only 240 peasant farms had been established in the Russian Republic, and only nine in Belorussia.71 In late May 1990, agricultural secretary Stroev said there were only some 2 0 ,0 0 0 peasant farms in the entire Soviet Union, many of them in the Baltic States.72 A K K O R General Director Aleksandr Manshin claimed some 90 0 peasant farms had been officially registered, and he knew of about 3,000 in all in the Russian Republic in September 1990.73 Although it had set up branches in some forty oblasts and many rural districts by mid-summer, A K KO Rs main work was clearly still being done by its leadership in Moscow. A K K O R secured the support of the Russian Republic government, which in April 1990 directed all its ministries and departments to help the Association by all means.74 A Russian Republic Council of Ministers decree on the development of peasant farms and agricultural cooperatives was passed.75 Bashmachnikov also expected a U SSR presidential decree to appear in the fali of 1990 which would order a Stolypin-type land reform to begin.76 Until the land reform was carried

Political Mobilization


out, A K K O R would remain a small farmers’ interest group without very many farmers to represent.

The USSR Peasant Union Both the U SS R Peasant Union (Kresfianskii soiuz SSSR ) and the Peasant Party of Rússia developed from discussions about the need for a peasant party carried on in the Supreme Soviet Com m ittee on Agrarian Questions in March 1990. Having decided to support Gorbachev for U SS R President, the agrarian deputies’ group then, on March 13, acted on Agrarian Committee chairman Arkadii Veprevs suggestion that they should organize a political party. Veprev and others argued that demands for the city to repay its debt to the countryside, a slogan advanced by the agrarian deputies, were not serious. T h e urban population had nothing with which to repay the “debt,” and such a position would be more likely to set peasants and workers against each other than anything else. Instead, Veprev argued, “ the countryside must fight for its interests at the levei of legislative and State decisions, having its own party, its own fraction in parliament.”77 In response, other agrarian deputies asserted that the peasant didn’t need to be active in politics, he needed to work. In any case, “ the most politically active part of the rural dwellers are already members of a party— the communist” party. They proposed a nonpolitical organization which might act as a party by advancing candidates.78 T h e majority of the deputies agreed with the advocates of the “apolitical” union, and established an organizing committee for the U SSR Peasant Union. Ivan Kukhar’, U SS R Kolkhoz Council chairman, was elected chairman of the organizing committee. According to Arkadii Aidak, a kolkhoz chairman, peoples deputy, and member of the Peasant Unions organizing committee, the main purpose of the organizing committee was to unify agricultural people, whatever kind of farm they may work.

The creation of the “ Peasant Union,’' as we think, will put an end to the artificial division of village residents into kolkhozniki (collective farm workers), sovkhoz workers, cooperative members, [and individual] farmers. They are all united by a common interest— work on the land, vital peasant worries, life in the countryside. Unity here, believe me, is more Progressive (perspektivnee ) than the opposite desire. Certain confrontaiions do exist, of course, but it is certainly possible to overcome them. For without unity they cannot defend their main interests, which are not a few Just take the reform of the price mechanism which is now being prepared, or the parity of relations between the city and the village, or problems of the development of the social infrastructure of the countryside.79

T h e Peasant Union would include all agriculturalists, representing their interests as a sector of the economy to the state and perhaps taking on organizational and management functions as well.


Perestroika from Below

In a later article, the s^*hie farm chaiLman argued that there were two contending views of the purpose of the U SSR Peasant Union. One group held that the union would . . . really be an adjunct of the currently existing apparatus for managing the agrarian sector. In this view the peasant would continue to be given only the role of a “tool” in the resolution of the food-supply problem.

T h e opposing conception would have placed the “entire agro-industrial [management] apparatus from bottom to top” under the oversight (kontroV) of the Peasant Union. ‘‘This approach would, I think, assure the real capabilitv to defend the interests of the countrys agrarian sector, since at its base is an admission of the self-worth (samootsennosti) of the peasantry which has been forgotten about for many decades.” Aidak argued that the Peasant Union should simply replace the U SSR Kolkhoz Council, which would become redundant. But supporters of the “adjunct” view wished to keep the Kolkhoz Council until after the Peasant Union Congress— and, he implied, were unlikely to dissolve it even Aidaks view makes sense if the Kolkhoz Council and Peasant Union are each understood as corporatist bodies charged with defending the interests of the agrarian sector— the Peasant Union is a more inclusive version of the Kolkhoz Council. T h e opposing view is reasonable if each agency is understood simply as a “transmission belt” between central policy-makers and local implementors of that policy. Neither view considers that there might be diíferent political positions within the agrarian sector itself, nor do they question the right of the kolkhoz-sovkhoz leadership to speak for all of agriculture. T h e founding Congress of the All-Russian .Agrarian Union (the Russian Republic affiliate of the U SSR Peasant Union) met in the Columned Hall of the House of Unions in Moscow April 2 6 - 2 7 , 1990. Vasilii Gorin, chairman of the “ Frunze” Kolkhoz , Belgorod oblast, perhaps the most famous model collective farm in the country, welcomed the 736 delegates. T h e main speech, on the goals of the new union, was given by Lenin Kolkhoz chairman Vasilii Starodubtsev. T h e Russian Republic .Agrarian Union declared its purpose to be “ to inculcate and strengthen in the popular mind a conviction of the special significance of the peasants in the state and society and to activate peasant participation in the countrys political life.” T h e union also claimed the constitutional right to propose legislation.81 Although it called itself apolitical, the Russian Agrarian Union asserted the right to nominate candidates for election. Moreover, its candidates who won election to the Soviets would form groups to represent the Unions interests in the legislative organs.52 In other words, the Union claimed the right to organize disciplined parliamentary fractions. In whose interests that discipline would be exercised was left unclear. T h e Congress almost suspended its work on its first day because no important ofBcials attended, which was taken as a sign that once again agricultural issues

Political Mobilization


were being ignored by the countrys leaders. T h e delegates were convinced to continue only when assured that U SSR Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov would appear the next day, as he did. Then Russian Republic Supreme Soviet Chairman Vitalii Vorotnikov and party Central Committee Secretary Iurii Manaenkov, Veprev, and the usual executives of the party Central Committee, the Russian Republic Council of Ministers, and the Russian republican Trade Union of Agricultural Workers also attended.85 Ryzhkov welcomed delegates’ comments that peasants would not use confrontation as a way to achieve their demands, also noting that almost all the socialist countries which had taken the path of reform had begun with agriculture.54 Both the meeting place and the list of attendees suggest greater official approval of the Agrarian Union than of its competitor AKKO R. Published comments by Bashmachnikov and others indicate that the struggle to determine the direction of the Russian Agrarian Union before and during its first congress was bitter. A K K O R became a collective member of the Peasant Union, and its supporters drove a resolution supporting the right of peasants to leave the kolkhozy and sovkhozy for independent farming through the founding congress.85 An unstated number of A K K O R members also joined the Unions governing council. But almost all of the 205 delegates apparently represented the local party apparatus and farm managers. (T he credentials commission refused to give an occupational breakdown of the delegates.) T h e ubiquitous Starodubtsev, also head 'of the Russian Republic Kolkhoz Council, became the chairman of the Russian Republic Agrarian Union. Gennadii Kulik, chairman of the Russian Republic State Agro-Industrial Com m ittee (effectively, republican minister of agriculture), and Vladimir Naumov, first deputy chairman of the State AgroIndustrial Committee for the non-black earth zone of the Russian Republic, were elected deputy chairmen of the Agrarian Union. These choices emphasized the organizational continuity between the old kolkhoz councils and the new organízation, as well as its subservience to the agricultural management authorities.86 Domination of the Russian Republic Agrarian Union leadership by the same group of successful farm chairmen and ministerial officials that runs the Russian Republic Kolkhoz Council suggests that the Agrarian Union quickly became a willing captive of the very agencies it might have challenged.87 Three weeks later, at a press conference announcing the date of the founding conference for the U SSR Peasant Union, organizing committee chairman Kukhar’ promised that the mistakes made at the Russian Republic session would not be repeated: . . . the organizing committee . . . has sharply criticized the approach which won out at the Russian Agrarian Congress. There, as is known, the administrative apparatus of the apparatus was artificially joined (srashchen) with a socio-political organí

But the criticism turned out to have little effect. T h e founding congress of the U SSR Peasant Union met June 11-13, 1990, in Moscow. T h e overwhelming


Perestroika from Below

majority of delegates wêre kolkhoz chqirmen. and sovkhoz directors who described themselves as just the best peasants.89 At the May press conference, Kukhar’ had said the organizing committee was “deeply sympathetic” to representaiion at the congress of farmers, leaseholders and agricultural cooperators, and the quota for their representation was fixed at about eight times higher than that for kolkhoz members and soxkhoz workers.90 Yet still only six percent of the delegates were independent farmers, and they were prevented from speaking.91 Gorbachev, Ryzhkov, Ligachev. and Stroev all attended.92 Organizing committee chairman Kuknar’ gave the keynote address. Vladilen Nikitin, Chairman of the U SSR Council of Ministers’ State Commission on Food Supplies and Procurements (effectively, the country s agricultural minister), gave a follow-up speech (sodoklad ),93 Boris El tsin and Egor Ligachev also spoke. Although both men were greeted warmly, the congress agreed with Ligachev. T h e brief account of his speech published in the conservative Russian republic newspaper Sovetskaia Rossiia noted that he . . . spoke of miscalculations in the leadership of agriculture. He mentioned as one of them the withdrawal of the party committees in many places from the economic sphere, which, in particular, led to a serious weakening of the citys help to the village.94

Although a year earlier a call for restoring the local and regional party s role in agricultural management would have been wildly unpopular with the successful farm managers, by June 1990, when the withdrawal of the local party from such interference seemed to increase the risk of a breakdown of field work (indeed, it would later cause much more of the abundant 1990 harvest to be lost in the fields than usual for lack of urban workers), Ligachevs position was apparently acceptable to most of those present. Ligachev was nominated but declined to run for the job of chairman of the newly organized U SSR Peasant Union.95 Instead, V.A. Starodubtsev was elected to that post. (He planned to resign as chairman of the Russian Republic Agrarian Union, he said afterwards %) According to the Izvestiia report of his election, the Tula Kolkhoz chairman was especially angry at President Gorbachev, who had, he said, insulted him and therefore all the country s peasants a few days before at a meeting in the Central Committee to discuss the spread of peasant farming. At that meeting, Starodubtsev had advanced his program for solving the problems of the countryside— all the country s capital investment should be diverted to the farms until their infrastructure has been built up to a levei where it can feed the country.9' T h e outcome of the U SSR Peasant Union congress made clear that the political rivalry between Gorbachev and Ligachev directly affected agricultural and in­ vestment policy. Moreover, the Peasant Union turned out to be little more than an organization of farm managers, a new incarnation of the old kolkhoz councils

Political Mobilization


with the same conservative, corporatist purposes. Like the Russian Republic Agrarian Union, the U SSR Peasant Union claimed the right to run candidates for office.98 Its corporatist inclinations were most obviously shown by the Unions demands, presented in a “statement” and “list of immediate measures for the rebirth of the peasantry and its economic, social and legal welfare” published after its founding congress. T h e Unions first demand was the adoption of a special Law on the Union which would fix its rights and privileges as representative of agrarian interests. It further demanded that sale prices for farm goods and prices charged for agricultural inputs should be set only after they had been agreed upon by the appropriate State agency and the Peasant Union, and demanded for itself the right to set general policy for the supplv of equipment and Chemicals to agriculture. (Such a demand would replace the State monopoly of supplv with a “private” monopoly held by the Peasant Union.) T h e Union further required that the State restore the old system of mobilizing students and urban workers to help with agricultural work at busy times of the year. T h e State was to “confirm” the legal status and rights of farm managers, presumably taking the right of appointing managers away from local party committees, but also threatening the collective farmers’ (seldom-exercised) right to freely elect the chairman of their cooperative. Finally, the Peasant Union asked that its chairman (Starodubtsev) join the U SSR Presidential Council, and that its first deputy chairman be a member of the government (presumably a deputy chairman of the council of ministers, like the chairman of the State Commission on Food Supplies and Procurements)." T h e Peasant Union clearly appeals to many conservatives as a new incarnation of the old instruments for maintaining party control. As then party Politburo member Ligacnev explained in an interview, The peasantry firmly stands on the platform of the C PSU . With the formation of the USSR Peasant Union and participation of the communists in its activities, the party would acquire a significant channel for ideological influence on the peasant class, which would undoubtedly reinforce its position in our societv.*00

But the “ immediate measures” presented by the Union would not reestablish party control in society. Rather, the demands for legal recognition as the peasants’ representative in the State and accompanying political positions would solidify the independence of the farm managers both from their peasants and from the partvstate by giving them control of the party-state organs that used to manage them. Starodubtsev expressed this corporatist, managerial vision most clearly when he noted that the Russian Republic Gosagroprom (ministry of agriculture) would now exist “attached to” (pri) the Peasant Union “as an operating organ representing the interests of the Union on the levei of the republican government.” 101 As it develops, the U SSR Peasant Union will continue to be an object of political conflict. By mid-October 1990, the Peasant Union presidium had alreadv


Perestroika from Below

gone so far as to set up^a joint meetiug with the U SSR Kolkhoz Council to adopt a resolution against Russian Republic land reform legislation and to ensure that all Russian republic peoples deputies among its members voted against the new legislation.102 In an interview published the same week, Starodubtsev threatened that Soviet farmers (farm managers) would “shake the world” if their just demands on society were not met.103 T h e Peasant Union had been captured by a particular political group, which sought to use its claim to represent all peasants as a weapon in a rearguard factional struggle in the Soviet elite and to safeguard its own groups power.

The Peasant Party o f Rússia As the history of A K K O R and the Peasant Union shows, the idea of organizing a separate political party to represent peasant interests had been raised at least as early as January 1990. However, the Peasant Party clearly grew out of the agrarian deputies’ groups March split about what kind of extra-parliamentary organization to form. An organizing committee for the peasant party existed by mid-May 1990.104 Its founders include a number of people associated with A K K O R, including Nikolai Kharitonov and A K K O R President Em el’ianov. Writer and television commentator Chernichenko has been the driving force behind the Peasant Party and, judging from references to the “agricultural G U L a g ,” one of his pet phrases, author of the party s program as well.105 Given the obvious personal animosity between him and Vasilii Starodubtsev, one reason for the party s foundation was the settling of scores between two strong-willed individuais. T h e partys founding congress issued its program, statutes, and programmatic appeal on September 4, 1990.106 There seems to have been little media coverage of the proceedings. A rather hostile source dismissed the Peasant Party as a small band of intellectuals, saying that the entire membership was among the sixty delegates present. T h e new group announced its intention to work with the “ Democratic Rússia” bloc and sent delegates to that groups founding congress in late October.107 No information about its membership is available, and it is likely that the Peasant Party at the moment is basically a group of urban intellectuals that has not yet put down deep roots in the countryside. Be that as it may, the idea of a peasant party was clearly acceptable to a great many people in the countryside.108 Whether or not this particular peasant party survives and expands, some such political grouping seems certain to emerge in Rússia.

Conclusions Neither A K K O R nor the Peasant Union are entirely “informal organizations.” Bashmachnikovs influence in A K K O R suggests that the Association is being consciously supported by a faction in the party-state elite in order to mobilize “Progressive” peasants against obstructive middle-level bureaucrats. Its organization,

Political Mobilization


therefore, is another instance of Gorbachevs more general strategy of building support for his reform policies by squeezing the nomenklatura from above and below. T h e Peasant Union, similarly, begins as a creation of some of those very middle-level bureaucrats and others who profited from the old System. In part, at least, it is a vehicle for preserving and even increasing their power in new circumstances. T h e reformist elements in the leadership are trying to create social forces with which they can then ally in order to push reform further— and their opponents in the elite respond with a similar strategy. But such guided political mobilization, an intentional expansion of the political arena, is not only a strategy for elite conflict in Leninist regimes, one used, for instance, by Khrushchev and Mao Zedong. Under the circumstances, it may also be the only way to create organizations which may become strong enough to act independently of the party-state authorities in a sector of society which would otherwise be extremely hard to organize. T h e formation of local affiliates of A K KO R even against a good deal of resistance suggests that there are people in the countryside ready to fight for change. A K K O R is clearly tied to the emerging radical wing in the ongoing debate over Soviet reform. Its leaders seek, in part, to create an intersectoral alliance, uniting farmers and new-style, voluntary agricultural cooperatives with similar entrepreneurial elements in the cities. T h e Peasant Union, by contrast, is a new incarnation of the old Kolkhoz Council in which the interests of agriculture as a whole were represented to the leadership by one segment of the rural community, the successful farm managers and bureaucrats who made the system more or less work even as they complained about it. Change in that system is now inevitable, and the Progressive farm managers have welcomed it when it meant that the party-state apparatus’ pressure on them was lessened; but most of them do not want to lose control over their own farms. Indeed, they believe that changing the farms' internai structure would lead not to an improvement in food supplies but to an absolute inability to feed the country.109 Their response is to create a new kind of Kolkhoz Council which can retain the claim to speak for agriculture as a whole while preserving their privileged position. (Obviously, any generalization about all farm managers is too broad, since there are clearly individuais among them, too, who understand that simply preserving the old system cannot work. Perhaps Starodubtsev and Veprev, who began as a successful sovkhoz director but has become convinced of the need also for individual farming and who has called for an independent political party to represent peasant interests, represent the poles of opinion here.) Both sides in this dispute represent political elites (the conservative farm elite in the peasant union; a more urbanized, intelligentsia grouping in the case of A K KO R). There is a third possible future development as well. Nationalist forces have already found an obvious rallying point in the demand to save the countryside, restoring the values and virtues of the traditional Russian peasantry. Curiously, many of the Russian “village” wTiters w'ho are most identified with these ideas


Perestroika from Below

have rejected attempts -to return toSndividual farming, arguing that Russian collectivist traditions are tòo strong for individual farming to work.110 In fact, the entire leadership of the Russian republics Union of Writers seems to share these views in an extreme form.111 Thus, this group of writers finds itself in a surprising alliance with the very farm managers who, it might seem, have done the most to destroy the traditional countryside. Yet another possibility is a right-wing mobilization of the rank-and-file peasants. Squeezed from above by the farm managers and fearful of the results of the transition to a market economy in which their interests might be threatened, the average kolkhoz peasant could be responsive to right-wing authoritarian appeals. In this case, Soviet peasants would be acting just as a traditional individual peasants have in the past, responding to appeals to preserve existing traditions and their own livelihoods. T h e Russian nationalist writers may help to create a climate of ideas for such an appeal. As yet, however, there is no evidence that this is actually happening. Political mobilization of the peasantry requires, first, breaking the control of the farm managers and directors and, second, protecting the interests of all peasants— those who can prosper as individual farmers or as workers on large farms and those who because of age or infirmity cannot compete. How the kolkhoz and sovkhoz peasants will eventually organize themselves— whether as a solidarist, corporatist bloc amenable to manipulation by rural elites, as interest groups within broader reformist and anti-reformist coalitions, or as independent peasants’ political parties— will have a direct bearing on the outcome of the battle for the future of the Soviet Union.

Notes 1. Moore writes that “ the ways in which the landed upper classes and the peasants reacted to the challenge of commercial agriculture were decisive factors in determining the political outcome” of capitalist democracy, fascism, or communism. Barrington Moore, Jr.,

Social Origins o f Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making o f the Modem World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), xvii. In many ways, the Soviet countryside is only now emerging into commercial agriculture, and the parallels with the situations examined by Moore are striking. 2. E. K. Ligachev, December 13, 1989, speech to II Congress of Peoples Deputies, as translated in FBIS Daily Report Supplement: USSR Congress o f Peoples Deputies , (February 7, 1990), 3. 3. Don Van Atta, “ Farms declare grain strikes',” Report on the USSR , 2:8 (February 23, 1990), 9 -1 1 . The Iaroslavl oblast kolkhoz council organized a strike committee for the whole province, headed by a kolkhoz chairman. Mikhail Ovcharov, “ Selskii zabastovochnyi,” Izvestiia (April 19, 1990), 2. 4. Iu. Iniankina and A. Stepovogo, “Afternativnye vybory v selskoi glubinke,” Izvestiia (February 11, 1990), 1.

Political Mobilization


5. T h e collective farm, or kolkhoz (plural: kolkhozy), is formally a cooperative of its members. The State farm, or sovkhoz (plural: sovkhozy), is a state enterprise distinguished from industry only by the circumstance that its output is agricultural products. Although the distinction between the two was at one time a very important ideological rnatter, there has been little practical difference between them since the mid-1960s when kolkhozy were ordered to begin paying guaranteed wages to all their members. The various plans for transforming or abolishing the farms now being discussed make little distinction between

sovkhozy and kolkhozy. 6. Erving Goffman, A sylums: Essays on the Social Situation o f Mental Patients and other Inmates (New York: Anchor Books, 1961), 6. 7. Vladimir Sokolov, “Zona molchaniia," Literaturnaia gazeta, 5 (January 20, 1988), 13. 8. Iurii Govorukhin, “ Prikaz: igrat’ na balalaike!" Ogonek, 12 (March 1990), 2 4 -2 6 ; A. Pushkar’, “ Kto est’ kto v derevne: Razgovor nachistotu s narodnym deputatom SSSR Vasiliem Starodubtsevym," Izvestiia (February 14, 1990), 1, 3. 9. Despite the common, and correct, image of the desperate poverty of much of the Soviet countryside, the Soviet agro-industrial complex (agriculture proper, agricultural suppliers, food processing and distribution, rural construction, and infrastructural development), has received large and growing investment since the mid-1960s, currently some 28 percent of all capital investment. “ Vopros— otvet," Ekonomika i zh izn , 30 (]uly, 1990), 5. Much of this money has been stolen or spent on projects which should never have been built. But these vast sums have also given the central and especially the local authorities leverage over their peasants. T h e classic description of how local officials use that leverage, a description as applicable to the Soviet Union as to any African state, is Robert H. Bates,

Markets and States in Tropical África : The Political Basis o f Agricultural Policies (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of Califórnia Press, 1981). 10. Joel S. Migdal, Peasants, Politics, and Revolution: Pressures toward Political and Social Change in the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 72. 11. For instance, M. Seslavin, “Aktuahnoe interv’iu: Vozrodim khoziaina— vozroditsia selo: Beseda s predsedatelem Komiteta Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR po agrarnym voprosam i prodovolstviiu Arkadiem Filimonovichem Veprevym,” SeVskaia zhizn (October 6, 1989),

2. 12. “ Kadry agropromyshlennogo kompleksa: O professional’nom sostave rabochikh kadrov v selskom khoziaistve v 1989 godu (ekonomicheskii obzor Goskomstata SSSR)," APK:

ekonomika, upravlenie, 1990:8 (August 1990), 7 9 -8 0 . 13. On this “social contract,” see George W. Breslauer, Eive Images o f the Soviet Future: A Criticial Review and Synthesis (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of Califórnia, 1978); Peter Hauslohner, “ Gorbachevs Social Contract," Soviet Economy, 3:1 (January-M arch, 1987), 5 4 -8 9 ; and Walter D. Connor, Socialism’s Dilemmas: State and Society in the Soviet Bloc (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988). 14. Phillippe Schmitter, “ Still the century of corporatism?" Review o f Politics, 36 (1974), 1 0 3 -1 0 5 , as cited in Valerie Bunce and John M. Echols III, “ Soviet politics in the Brezhnev era: 'pluralism’ or 'corporatism’? " in Donald R. Kelley (ed.), Soviet Politics

in the Brezhnev Era (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1980), 3 -4 . Although “corporatism" seems to be an apt description for this controlled representaiion of Soviet agricultural interests, the concept probably does not fit other sectors of Soviet society in the Brezhnev era very well.


Perestroika from Below 15. There have, of coirfse, alvvays been. rebels on the kolkhozy and sovkhozy. Alexander

Yanov goes so far as to asserfc, based on his extensive experience as an agricultural journalist in the 1960s and early 1970s, that a whole social stratum, the skilled workers, are ready and willing to push for change from within the farms if given half a chance to do so. This claim underlies the analysis in his The Drama o f the Soviet 1960s: A Lost Reform (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, n.d. [1984]). 16. On these reforms and the obstacles they confront, see the articles by Karen Brooks and Edward Cook in William Moskoff (ed.), Perestroika in the Countryside: Agricultural

Reform in the Gorbachev Era (Armonk, N Y : M .E . Sharpe, 1990), as well as Karen Brooks, “ Soviet agricultures halting reform," Problems o f Communism , 39:2 (March-April 1990), 2 9 -4 1 . 17. Among the best-known experiments with individual farming involving the restructuring or dissolution of the kolkhozy and sovkhozy are efforts in the mountainous regions of the Georgian SSR, the Pytalov raion, Pskov oblast , the Trefiakov raion, Altai krai, the Pereiaslav' raion, Iaroslavl’ oblast , and experiments in Moscow oblast. With the possible exception of the Moscow oblast, each of these experiments is supported by district-level party officials, and each also has an identifiable patron or patrons among national political figures. 18. “ Vozzvanie KresPianskoi partii Rossii," Ogonek, 38 (September 1990), 3. 19. T h e best description of the agricultural administrative system and its difficulties is Gregory Gleason, “ Ministries vs. territories: evidence from agricultural administration in Soviet Central Asia," Studies in Comparative Communism, 1 9 :3 -4 (Autum n-W inter 1986), 2 2 7 -2 4 6 . 20. Sidney Ploss, Conflict and Decision-Making in Soviet Rússia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965). 21. Werner G. Hahn, The Politics o f Soviet Agriculture, 1960-1970 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1972). 22. I base this judgment on the resolutions contained in Soiuznyi sovet kolkhozov: Sbornik postanovlenii, 1969-1979 (Moscow: Iuridicheskaia literatura, 1979). T h e councils were more important in Moldavia, where an experiment with them laid some of the groundwork for the general creation of district agro-industrial associations (RA PO s) in 1982. 23. Max E . Mote, “ Note: Electing the USSR Congress of Peoples Deputies,” Problems

o f Communism, 3 8 :6 (November-December 1989), 5 1 -5 6 . 24. Dmitry Ostalsky, Alexander Kabakov, Alexei Nikitushkin, Leonid Miloslavsky, Dmitry Yakushikin, Ilya Vais, Grant Gukasov, Alexander Mineyev, “T h e decisive day,” Moscow

News, 14 (April 9 -1 6 , 1989), 8. 25. Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1968), 4 1 2 -4 1 3 , 414. 26. O. Stepanenko, “ 'Semeinoe delo’ Starodubtsevykh,” Pravda (May 25, 1989), 3. 27. For a list of committee members, see FBIS Daily Report (July 17, 1989), 62. 28. Igor Gamaiunov, “ Pretendent: V kom ishchet svoego voploshcheniia mechta o 'krepke ruke’?” Ogonek, 1 (January 1990), 6 - 8 . 29. For a more detailed account of this episode, see Don Van Atta, “ Further reshuffiing of agricultural management,” Report on the USSR, 1:38 (September 22, 1989), 9 -1 1 . 30. “Obrashchenie k s”ezdu narodnykh deputatov SSSR,” SeVskaia zhizn 1989), 1.

(June 1,

Political Mobilization


31. “V Sovete Ministrov SSSR,” Selskaia zhizrí (August 11, 1989), 1; Christian J. Foster, “Convertible currency payments for above-average sales of farm produce,” Report

on the USSR, 1:45 (November 10, 1989), 1 3 -15. On the lack of response, see, for instance, K. Aksenov, “ Krest’iane uchatsia schitat’: Obozhgla sinitsa ruki . . . ,” Pravda (January 5, 1990), 2. 32. “Vstrecha v TsK KPSS,” Selskaia zhizn (December 15, 1989), 1. 33. V. Virkunen and A. Kostiukov, “ Ot nashikh korrespondentov v Kremle: Reform ili deneg?” Selskaia zhizn (December 15, 1989), 1. 34. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies , 4 1 5 -4 1 6 . 35. Valentin Liashenko, “ V Verkhovnom Sovete SSSR: Spor o zemle: Komitet po agrarnym voprosam i prodovolstviiu zavershaet rabotu nad novymi osnovami zemlepol’zovaniia,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (October 10, 1989), 1 -2 . 36. Interview with EFmira Nikolaevna Krylatykh, VASKhNIL Academic Secretary for the Agricultural Economics Division, Moscow, October 17, 1990. 37. Irina Konovalova, “Akademik V.A. Tikhonov: Zhit’ bez illiuzii,” Ogonek, 36 (September 1989), 2. 38. “ Postanovlenie Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR: O vvedenii v deistvie Osnov zakonodatelstva Soiuza SSR i soiuznykh respublik o zemle,” Pravda (March 7, 1990), 1. 39. T. Boikova and V. Virkunen, “Zakon o zemle priniat!” Selskaia zhizn (March 1, 1990), 1. 40. FBIS Daily Report (January 23, 1990), 100. 41. I. Abakumov, “Argumenty sibnee ambitsii: V etom ubezhdaet rabota nad zakonoproektom o zemle,” ízvestiia (February 15, 1990), 2. 42. “ S trevogoi za sud’by partii, strany, perestroiki,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (July 6, 1990), 2 - 3 ; Iu. Chernichenko, “ Slovo, kotorogo ia ne prosil,” ízvestiia (July 7, 1990), 2. 4 3 . V. Mikhailov, “ Krest’ianskii nakaz,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (April 22, 1990), 2; E. Petrakov, “ Soveshchaiutsia deputaty,” Selskaia zhizn (April 22, 1990), 2. A later meeting, held in the Rossiia hotel, attracted more than 2 0 0 participants. Iu. Baklanov, “ Za prioritet selu,” Selskaia zhizn (May 17, 1990), 2. 4 4 . I base this judgment on interviews conducted with members of the committee and others October 1 5 -2 0 , 1990 in Moscow. Compare N. Nikulina, “ Na sessii Verkhovnogo Soveta R S FS R : Sverim pozitsii!” Selskaia zhizn (October 4, 1990), 2. 45 . Don Van Atta, “ ‘Full-scale, like collectivization, but without collectivizations excesses’: the campaign to introduce the family and lease contract in Soviet agriculture,”

Comparative Economic Studies, 32:2 (Summer 1990), 1 0 9 -1 4 3 . 46. “Ob agrarnoi politike KPSS v sovremennykh usloviiakh: Doklad Generahnogo sekretaria TsK KPSS M .S. Gorbacheva na Plenume TsK KPSS 15 marta 1989 goda,”

Pravda (March 16, 1989), 1 -4 ; “ Zakliuchitd’noe slovo M .S. Gorbacheva na Plenume TsK KPSS 16 marta 1989 goda,” Pravda (March 18, 1989), 1 -2 . See Dawn Mann and Elizabeth Teague, “ Gorbachev calls for ‘a green revolution’,” Report on the USSR, 1:13 (March 31, 1989), 1 -6 , and Erik Whitlock, “ Soviet agriculture after the March Plenum,”

Report on the USSR , 1:17 (April 28, 1989), 5 -7 . 47 . A. Ananev, “Tribuna narodnogo deputata: smotret’ liudiam v glaza,” Pravda (June 15, 1989), 3. 48 . “Topical letter: W hat is needed is an association of peasant farms,” Ízvestiia (June 14, 1989), 2, as translated in FBIS Daily Report (July 3, 1989), 102 -1 0 3 .


Perestroika from Below 49. Pravda (July 2, 19$9), 2. For a fuller biography of Tikhonov see Don Van Atta,

“Theorists of agrarian ‘perestroika’,” Soviet Economy, 5:1 (January-M arch 1989), 7 0 -9 9 . 50. V. Somov, “ U barrikady: Uchenomu-poborniku semeinogo i arendnogo podriada— ukazki v institute na dver 7 ’ Pravda (July 28, 1988), 2, and “ Chitatel’— gazeta: ‘U barrikadyV’

Pravda (December 9, 19S8), 3. Vershinin now heads the Moscow oblast branch of AKKOR. 51. “ Budet li u zemli khoziain?” Izvestiia (December 20, 1988), 1. 52. “Assotsiatsiia krest’ianskikh khoziaistv Rossii,” Pravda (August 1, 1989), 2; “ Sovershenstvovat’ sotsialno-ekonomicheskie otnosheniia! Byt’ khoziaevami na zemle,” Vestnik agroproma, 35 (August. 19897 3; interview with Igor’ Abakumov, October 15, 1990. 53 Central Television, V remia, July 30, 1989. 54. Invitations to the congress vvere originally dated December 15, 1989. According to a participant, the meeting was put off to avoid a conflict with the Second Congress of Peoples Deputies. 55. I. Abakumov, V. Gavrichkin, and \7. Shabanov, “ S”ezd krest’ian Rossii,” Izvestiia (January 22, 1990), 1. 56. “ Sozdan soiuz kresPian,” Selskaia zhizn (December 2, 1989), 1; “V dos’e narodnogo deputata: Ravnye usloviia— vsem,” Selskaia zhizn (December 15, 1989), 2. Establishment of at least one raion-level affiliate, in the Shatura raion of Moscow oblast, also had been proposed. A. Frolov, “ Prodovolstvennaia programma— Delo vsenarodnoe: Sozdat v raione soiuz selskikh khoziaev,” Leninskaia Shatura (November 25, 1989), 1. 57. A. Bykov, “ Krest’ianskaia konferentsiia,” Selskaia zhizn (December 5, 1989), 1. 58. N. Matukovskii, “ Soiuz selskikh khoziaev: Zametki s uchrediternoi konferentsii v Minske,” Izvestiia (Decem ber 8, 1989), 3. 59. I. Alekseenko, “Assotsiatsiia svobodnvkh krest’ian,” Selskaia zhizn

(March 30,

1990), 1. 60. S. Kozlov, “Assotsiatsiia krest’ianskikh khoziaistv i selskikh kooperativov Kazakhstana,”

Izvestiia (March 28, 1990), 2. 61. “ Odnim abzatsem,” Pravda (January 23, 1990), 1. 6 2 . “ Program m a U chreditePnogo s” ezda Assotsiatsii kresFianskikh khoziaistv i selskokhoziaistvennykh kooperativov Rossii, 2 2 - 2 4 ianvaria 1990 g.” (mimeo). For AKKORs charter, see “ Ustav Assotsiatsii krest’ianskikh khoziaistv i sel skokhoziaistvennykh kooperativov Rossii (A K K O R),” Z emlia i liudi, 23 (June 1, 1990), 6. 63. AKKOR General Director Aleksandr Manshin identifies Bashmachnikov as first vice-president of the Association, Abakumov as a simple vice president. “AKKOR: Otstaivaia interesy krest’ianskikh khoziaistv,” Z emlia i liudi, 23 (June 1, 1990), 1. 64. “AKKOR: I-i Uchrediternyi,” Fermer, 1 (1990), inside back cover. 65. V. Virkunen, “ Pravo na zemliu i voliu: Zametki s krest'ianskogo s”ezda Rossii,”

Selskaia zhizn (January 25, 1990), 2. 66. AKKOR-sponsored training courses for would-be farmers who could pav tuition, to be followed bv an internship on a farm in the United States, Great Britain, or Holland, were announced later in the year. V. Virkunen, “Aktuarnoe interv'iu: Na uchebu za granitsu,” Selskaia zhizn

(August 23, 1990), 2; V. Konovalov, “ Fermery nuzhna pod-

derzhka,” Izvestiia (August 27, 1990), 1. 67. I. Abakumov and V. Gavrichkin, “ KresPianin tot, kto imeet zemliu: Vstrecha v Kremle s delegatami Pervogo s”ezd fermerov Rossii,” Izvestiia (January 26, 1990), 2. 68. An AKKOR draft of the Russian Republic Law on the Peasant Farm appeared in Ekonomika i zhizn 28 (July 1990), 15 -1 7 .

Political Mobilization


69. V. Ushakov, “ Sovet dolzhen rabotat’,” A gropromyshlennyi kompleks Rossii, 8 (August 1990), 4. 70. “ Proekt: Zakon Rossiiskoi Sovetskoi Federativnoi Sotsialisticheskoi Respubliki: O krest’ianskom (fermerskom) khoziaistve,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (August 22, 1990), 3 -4 . 71. “ V zerkale statistiki: Fermerov— poka edintsy,” Ekonomika i zhizrí, 30 (Julv 1990), 5. 72. A. Platoshkin, “ Krest’ianin— Eto obraz zhizni: Pochtu ‘Pravdy’ kommentiruet sekretar’ TsK KPSS,” Pravda (May 22 , 1990), 1 -2 . 73. M . Chkanikov, “Aktuaknoe interv’iu: Fermerskaia primerka,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (September 27, 1990), 2. 74. N. Aver’ianov, “ Ukazanie Gosagroproma Nechernozemnoi zony R S FS R no. 15 ot 0 7 .0 5 .9 0 g.,” KresVianskaia gazeta , 2 ( July 1990), 3. 75. Vladimir Bashmachnikov, “ Politika: Zemeknaia reforma: Krest’iane veriat lish’ sebe i prezidentu,” KresVianskie vedomosti (May 1990), 7. (This is a trial issue of a paper jointly sponsored by AKKOR, the Russian Union of Consumers’ Cooperatives, and the

Fermer News and Advertising Agency.) 76. Natakia Alieva, “ Uskol’zaiushchii nadei: Kogda zhe kresPianin poluchit obeshchannuiu zemliu?” KresVianskaia gazeta, 2 (July 1990), 2. V. Gavrichkin, “ Kakie prioritety nuzhny selu,” Izvestiia (May 22 , 1990), claimed that the USSR Supreme Soviet Agrarian Committee had been instructed to prepare such an decree by Gorbachev, apparently at a Kremlin meeting on May 21 (reported in Izvestiia directly above this item). 77. “Deputaty-agrarniki sporiat: Nuzhna li krest’ianam svoia partiia? A. Veprev: ‘Rech’ imenno o partii’,” SeVskaia zhizn (March 27, 1990), 2. 78. “ Deputaty-agrarniki sporiat: Nuzhna li krest’ianam svoia partiia? V. Palagniuk: 'Vviazyvatsia v politiku smysla net’,” SeVskaia zhizn (March 27, 1990), 2. 79. A. Aidak, “ Pozitsiia deputata: Krest’ianskii soiuz— neobkhodimost’,” Izvestiia (March 25, 1990), 2. 80. A. Aidak, “ Pozitsiia deputata: S” ezd krest’ian gotovitsia . . . apparatom,” Izvestiia (April 25, 1990), 3. 81. V. Virkunen, N. Kopanev and E . Petrakov, “ Sila krest’ian— V edinstve,” SeVskaia

zhizn (April 28, 1990), 1 -2 . 82. “V interesakh krest’ian: Soiuz agrarnikov Rossii,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (April 27, 1990), 1. 83. “ Krest'ianskii soiuz segodnia i zavtra,” Agropromyshlennyi kompleks Rossii, 8 (August 1990), 2 -3 . 84. “ Soiuz agrarnikov Rossii: Povyshat’ prestizh krest’ianskogo truda,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (April 24 , 1990), 3. 85. Valerii Virkunen and Evgenii Petrakov, “ Na temy dnia: Krest’ianskii soiuz strany,”

SeVskaia zhizn (April 25, 1990), 1. 8 6 . 1. Abakumov and V. Gavrichkin, “ Golos krest’ian na s”ezde ne prozvuchal,” Izvestiia (April 28, 1990), 2. 87. V. Matusevich, “ Navstrechu uchreditel’nomu s”ezdu Krest’ianskogo soiuza SSSR: Zdravyi smysl ili emotsii?” SeVskaia zhizn (June 9, 1990), 2. 88. I. Abakumov and V. Gavrichkin, “ Krest’ianskii soiuz SSSR soberetsia v iiune,”

Izvestiia (May 16, 1990), 2. 89. V. Konovalov, “ O chem ne smogli skazat’ fermery,” Izvestiia (June 13, 1990), 1.


Perestroika from Below 90. Abakumov and Qàyrichkin, “ Kre$t’ianskii soiuz SSSR. . . .” 91. V. Gavrichkin, “ Kre$t’ianskii Soiuz: Radi chego on sozdaetsia?” Izvestiia (June 12,

1990), 1. 92. A-. Zakharov, “Zakon priniat, bezzakonie prodolzhaetsia,” Izvestiia (June 11, 1990), 3. 93 . “ Krest’iane strany ob”ediniaiutsia,” Sovetskaia Rossiia, (June 12, 1990), 8. 94. “ Krest’ianskii soiuz SSSR sozdan,” Sovetskaia Rossiia (June 13, 1990), 8. 95. V. Gavrichkin and V. Konovalov, “ Krest’ianskii s”ezd: Aplodismenty E . Ligachevu i B. E l’tsinu,” Izvestiia (June 14, 1990), 1. 96. S. Chudakov, “ Interv’iu v nomer: Radi dostoinoi zhizni,” SeVskaia zhizn


15, 1990), 2. 97. “ Cherez mnogoukladnost’ ekonomiki— K effektivnosti proizvodstva: Vstrecha Prezidenta SSSR s arendatorami,” Izvestiia (May 23, 1990), 3. This is an even more extreme version of Ligachevs prescription for solving the country s food crisis. Compare his speech at the Second Congress of Peoples Deputies in December 1989, which promised that agriculture would begin to work if only it received as much more investment in the next five years as it had in the previous five. Izvestiia, (December 15, 1989), 10, as translated in Current Digest o f the Soviet Press, 41:5 2 (January 24, 1990), 23. 98. “ Ustav kresfianskogo soiuza SSSR,” SeVskaia zhizn (June 15, 1990), 2. 99. “Zaiavlenie Uchrediternogo s” ezda Krest’ianskogo soiuza SSSR,” “ Perechen’ neotlozhnykh mer po vozrozhdeniiu krest’ianstva, ego ekonomicheskoi, sotsiaFnoi i pravovoi zashchishchennosti,” SeVskaia zhizn (July 27, 1990), 1, 2; Valerii Gavrichkin, “ Politicheskii dnevnik: Urozhai, zabastovka, chrezvychainve mery,” Izvestiia (August 7, 1990), 1. 100. “ W hat is good for the peasant is good for the country,” SeVskaia zhizn, (April 8, 1990), 1 -2 , as translated in FBIS Daily Report (April 19, 1990), 73. 101. V. Virkunen and A. Zholobov, “ Navstrechu uchrediternomu s”ezdu Krest'ianskogo soiuza SSSR: Vasilii Starodubtsev: My trebuem rearnogo prioriteta,” SeVskaia zhizn (June 1, 1990), 2. 102. E . Petrakov, “ Sovmestnoe zasedanie,” SeVskaia zhizn

(October 17, 1990), 2;

“ Lishnii krestianin,” Izvestiia (October 20, 1990), 1. 103. S. Chudakov, “ Vasilii Starodubtsev: 'Ia— protivnik krainikh mer’,” SeVskaia zhizn (October 17, 1990), 2. 104. Abakumov and Gavrichkin, “ Krest’ianskii soiuz SSSR. . . .” 105. Iurii Chernichenko, “T h e internai colony: Why call this a peasants’ alliance?”

Moscow News, 25 (1990), 5. 106. “ Vozzvanie Krest’ianskoi partii Rossii.” 107. “ Programma Krest’ianskoi Partii Rossii” (mimeo); G . Mikhailov, “ Soiuz demokratov . . . Nadolgo li?” Literaturnaia gazeta, 43 (October 24, 1990), 2. 108. An opinion poli taken during July 1 6 -2 0 , 1990, among the rural population in 19 regions of the USSR reported that 26 percent of respondents “completely approved” of the formation of an independent peasant political party and another 24 percent saw “pluses and minuses” to it. Fifteen percent of respondents opposed creating an independent peasants’ party, and 33 percent didn’t know. The text accompanying the table of results says that the response in favor of such a party was highest in the Transcaucasus, Central Asia, and the Baltic States, and lowest in the Russian republic. But the report gave no regional breakdown nor any information on the number or social breakdown of respondents.

Political Mobilization


V. Boikov and A. Kolesnikov, “ Obshchestvennoe mnenie: Zemel’nyi vopros: Chto dumaiut krest'iane?” SeVskaia zhizn (August 15, 1990), 2. 109. For a particularly vehement statement of this position see Vasilii Starodubtsevs comments as reported in O. Stepanenko, “Zashchitite kresfianstvo: Tak stavit vopros V. Starodubtsev,” Pravda (January 6, 1990), 2. He is seconded (indeed quoted) in this view by Belorussian party first secretary E . E . Sokolov. “ Dosadnyi fakt— otsutstvie realizma,”

Izvestiia (January 27, 1990), 2. 110. Irina Konovalova, “AktuaFnoe interv’iu: Na perelome,” SeVskaia zhizn


24, 1990), 2. 111. For instance, “ Restructuring and pubiic-affairs writing: plenary session of the Board of the Russian Republic Writers’ Union,” Literaturnaia Rossiia, 51 (December 23, 1988), 2 - 4 , as translated in Current Digest o f the Soviet Press, 41:8 (March 22, 1989), 1 -5 .

5 The Prospects for a Soviet Womens Movement: Opportunities and Obstacles Carol Nechemias

In the burgeoning world of Soviet unofficial groups, feminist organizations have not achieved a salient place. There are nonetheless stirrings of greater activism, as a rejuvenated debate on womens status replaces tired clichês and as new womens organizations are formed. Even with the recent removal of legal barriers to organization independent of state sponsorship, the development of a womens movement faces major obstacles, both structural and cognitive. Widespread cultural attitudes about "womens place” in particular limit womens sense of collective oppression; disparate treatment does not necessarily generate moral indignation. This essay will explore not only those factors, such as Soviet sex role ideology, that serve to constrict the potential for a womens movement, but will also delineate those conditions favorable to nascent feminist organizations. This assessment will utilize social Science research findings as a guide to identifying the conditions that historically have shaped the formation and success of womens movements. First, we will direct our attention to the issues of “W hat is a social movement?” and ''W hat does the labei 'womens movement’ imply about values and goals?” We will then describe the ideal context for emergent womens movements and, finally, evaluate the extent to which contemporary Soviet society provides a setting favorable to an incipient womens movement.

Women and Social Movements Social movements are characterized by spontaneity, evolving structure, and widespread changes in values and attitudes. As Ralph H. Turner and Lewis M .

This paper was supported by Title V III funds from the Hoover Institute and a Mini-Grant from Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.



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Killian note, movements1are born as "members of a public who share a common position . . . supplement their informal person-to-person discussion with organization to promote their convictions more effectively and to insure more sustained activity.” 1 Emergent movements have both a core and a periphery, with key organizations setting policy agendas and serving as foci for the movements values and activities. W hile there may be one organization that plays an especially prominent role, movements often spawn hundreds of groups, with a diversity of styles, values, orientations, and forms of organization. This burgeoning organizational growth reflects attitudinal change. Social move­ ments trigger re-assessments of personal identities, new answers to the questions "W h o am I? ” and "W h at is my place in society?” O n a mass scale, incrementai change over a decade or several decades may result in a transformation of public opinion, a striking shift in attitudes toward, for example, womens roles in society, and resulting pressures on the state to alter public policy. Labelling a movement a "womens movement” implies several defining attributes. They include a call for womens equality, an emphasis on women as individuais and as citizens or, alternatively, on women as members of the proletariat, organized protest activity, the priority of womens problems, and women working for women. Womens movements invoke "fem inist” values; that is, they proceed from the principie that women have a íower status in society, that women are discriminated against socially, economically and politically, and that discrimination is unjustified and must be changed. This does not imply, however, a consensus among feminists concerning the origins of womens subjugation and the remedies or courses of action appropriate for redressing inequities in womens status. Among the many voices of feminism certain major traditions stand out. One of these is liberal reformist feminism, which emphasizes viewing women (and men) first as citizens or as individuais, free to develop their personalities and to choose from a wide array of life options. This view rejects traditional assumptions that women should be assigned (and confined) to certain roles because they are women. Socialist feminism, on the other hand, categorizes women in terms of class membership; thus, as in the case of liberal reformist feminism, womans primary identity is subsumed within a gender-free category. Women were called upon as workers to show solidarity with their proletarian brothers in a struggle to achieve a new and more just social order. From a theoretical viewpoint the M arxist-Leninist approach to liberating women stressed three points— drawing women into the labor force, turning household work into social labor, and creating a new division of labor within the household, though the latter two points have been largely neglected in practice.2

Conditions Favorable to the Growth of Women s Movements In the past, womens movements have proved as much the exception as the rule. This is true of U.S. history, with its lengthy tradition of free assembly and

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


emphasis on individualism, as well as for Tsarist Rússia and the Soviet Union. For the United States, for example, there have been three phases of organized activity, including the years from 1 8 4 8 -1 8 7 5 , 1 8 9 0 -1 9 2 5 , and 1966 to the present, with a strikingly long period of quiescence during this century. As in the American case, the Russian Empire and its successor State, the Soviet Union, witnessed several waves of feminist activism. Indeed, prominent womens movements were active in the period from 1 8 6 0 -1 9 3 0 . Even prior to 1860 there were Russian feminists, especially in the 1830s and 1840s, but their writings had little impact on the larger society. T h e post-1930 era saw only one short-lived attempt to create an independent womens movement. A small group of Leningrad women founded a feminist samizdat almanac, Zhenshchina i Rossiia (Woman and Rússia), and an independent womens club, Mariia, in the years 1 9 7 9 -1982. Their efforts suffered a swift demise, however, as the K G B took action to halt these activities through a campaign of arrests and imprisonment.3 Thus, like their American counterparts of the 1960s, would-be Soviet feminists face a society unused to the idea of a womens movement. In light of the intermittent nature of womens movements, how can their rise be explained? W hat are the conditions that foster the formation of womens movements? T h e historian William H. Chafe contends that the following preconditions provide a fertile setting: (1) a social atmosphere conducive to reform; (2) a cogent point of view around which to organize; and (3) a positive response by substantial numbers of women to the call to end discrimination.4 In addition, there is a need for a catalyst, an event or events that turn the “womens question” into a burning issue. In the past, the Russian/Soviet case has conformed to the general pattern that links womens movements with political ferment. T h e circumstances that gave rise to a fledgling feminist movement in the 1860s included Rússia s defeat in the Crimean War; the death of the oppressive Nicholas I and the relaxation of censorship under his successor, Alexander II; an explosion of social criticism; a public virtually intoxicated with the expectation of imminent sweeping change; and an impressive array of reform measures, ranging from the emancipation of the serfs to the establishment of local elective assemblies (zemstvos). On the eve of this reform era, the Tsarist government had provided a convenient catalyst by training and deploying a small contingent of nurses in the Crimean War, a controversial decision that sparked a highly visible debate over “womens place.”5 A closer look at such reform eras reveals the symbiotic relationship between reform and womens movements. Intensely “political” decades generally have provided women with the opportunity to witness the struggle of others to free themselves from oppression, a process that often has led them to confront oppression in their own lives. Moreover, womens participation in other Progressive movements has encouraged their acquisition of leadership and organizational skills or, at the very least, their exposure to organizational, tactical, and ideological models that can be harnessed to womens purposes. And pre-existing organizations— the gov-


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ern m en t, the m edia, ghd segm ents o f other m ovem ents— often provide crucial early assistance in term s o f free publicity and access to Com m unications networks and hence potential supporters, prior to the establishm ent o f independent newsletters and organizations.6

A budding movement needs leaders who can communicate compelling ideological messages and inspire confidence in non-traditional ways of thinking and acting. But where do such leaders come from? In the 1850s, the first woman economist in Rússia, M ania Vernadskaia, crafted powerful articles justifying vvomens education and free choice of employment. Women vvere called upon to liberate themselves from the confining roles and dependence associated with the exclusive roles of wife and mother.7 It is significant that Vernadskaia fit the social profile of feminist activists of her day: they were “educated women of leisure; women who could observe the outlines of the problem, who had the time to reflect upon it, and the means and skills to engage in social action.”8 Over time, the social composition of Russian feminists shifted from aristocrats and landowners to professional women— journalists and especially physicians. Thus, feminist leaders continued to be drawn largely from the ranks of the educated, the skilled, and those with either a significant amount of discretionary time or the option of integrating their occupation with movement politics. Similarly, the first generation of prominent Bolshevik women were for the most part strikingly well-educated daughters of the middle and lower gentry and the bourgeoisie.9 Yet, the presence of a talented would-be leadership does not ensure success. T h e message of the Russian feminists of the 183Os and 1840s fell largely on deaf ears. Even if would-be leadership is present, a crucial question remains: under what conditions will a substantial part of the target group prove receptive to the message? Clearly, the prospects for recruitment, mobilization and organization will depend on the responsiveness of significant numbers of women. Social scientists have sought to explain the emergence of collective behavior— a favorable response to the exhortations of leaders— by focusing on relative deprivation and solidarity/resource mobilization theories.10 For our purposes, the general thrust of these theories can be subsumed within the concept of group or gender consciousness; the focus is on the attitudes and values that ensure that feminist messages will find a receptive audience. Gender consciousness contains four essential components: (1) a collective orientation toward the desirability of change in the status of women; (2) individuais' discontent with the status of their social category; (3) an erosion of faith in traditional justifications for disparities in treatment; and (4) a sense of sisterhood, of strong bonds among women based on shared values and interests.11 T h e first component addresses the problem of womens attitudes toward collective action as a means of changing the rank or power of women in society. D o women embrace the idea of working together to achieve greater equality? Or do they see individual effort as the key to women getting ahead?

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


T h e second component— discontent with womens status— reflects notions of “relative deprivation” and “structural strain.” Relative deprivation involves the discrepancy between what one thinks one is rightfully entitled to and what one thinks one can actually achieve or maintain. A reference group, some standard of comparison, generally plays a key role; for example, college-educated women may compare their prospects in the labor market with those of their peers, collegeeducated men, and react with indignation. Structural strain, on the other hand, implies a gap between ideology and reality. W hile societal messages state that women belong in the home, in fact larger and larger numbers of women may be entering the labor force; or women may be told that they have achieved equality and live better than their counterparts elsewhere in the world, yet their own lives and increasing access to information may tell them otherwise. In either case, the source of discontent lies in the gap between unrealized standards or abstract ideas and evaluations of what life actually offers. T h e third component involves how women appraise justifications of disparities. T h e key issue here is whether inequalities are viewed as fair and just, whether women think their groups differential treatment is warranted by the distinctive characteristics of their group. If women believe that men are by nature better suited for leadership positions, they will regard inequalities in political or economic power as springing from legitimate forces. Indeed, women themselves may express ideologies that justify male precedence and their own inferiority. Helen Mayer Hacker in particular has described how women often accommodate themselves to their subordinate status and express self-hatred; in accepting the dominant groups stereotypes, women frequently exceed men in denigrating, deriding, and castigating their own sex.12 T h e fourth component involves a sense of solidarity among women. D o women feel close to and identify with the ideas and interests of the category “women” ? If so, women can be viewed as a collectivity rather than just a category. Insofar as women view their own “life chances” as closely tied to the overall status of women in society, they are more likely to recognize the value of working together with other women on matters of common concern. There are, however, competing “identities” that often supersede gender: the standing of particular ethnic groups or classes can shape the destiny of all group members, including women. For a woman, the subordination of a sense of sisterhood to other loyalties is further reinforced by the fact that “who she is” and how well she lives generally is defined by her husbands status. This brief overview of the factors associated with the development of feminist movements pinpoints the importance of the times, leadership, womens organizations, the media, and gender-consciousness. An examination of contemporary Soviet society in these areas reveals a number of crucial obstacles and opportunities facing would-be organizers of a feminist movement.


Perestroika from Below

G la sn o st and Perestroika: The Current Reform Era In the past, womens rights movements have succeeded in gaining energy only during times of generalized social reform. Thus the national crusade associated with glasnost and perestroika would seem to bode well for the revival of a womens movement in the Soviet Union. T h e present reform era is not, however, without its elements of ambiguity; along with the upsurge in social criticism and freeranging debate, there has been a confluence of forces which threaten to consign women primarily to the private sphere— as wife-mothers— and only secondarily to the labor force and the larger public arena. These forces include a deterioration in consumer welfare, a nostalgia for pre-revolutionary traditions, and a tendency to dismiss the ideal of the emancipated woman as emblematic of the misguided and discredited M arxist-Leninist thinking of the past. Glasnost has afforded greater salience to womens issues and thus renewed debate. T h e shedding of old shibboleths, the discarding of worn ideological principies and frayed truths, has not passed by the “womens question.” Gorbachev nimself, in addressing the special all-union party conference held in the summer of 1988, asserted that perestroika includes a reexamination of womens issues. I want to dwell on another question of State importance. That is the womens question. It has been claimed more than once that we have solved this problem once and for all. Indeed, we have proclaimed equality of rights for women and men, ensured equal access to almost all occupations, established identical pay for equal work, and guaranteed other womens rights. All this is true. But things have worked out in such a way that, along with their undisputed gains, women still have concerns that to this day in many ways inhibit them from making full use of their rights.

Gorbachev pointed to the subsiding of the womens movement after the October Revolution, to its pro forma quality, as a factor contributing to the failure to resolve issues of direct concem to women; and he called for a revival of mass womens organization in the form of womens councils (zhensovety ) organized under the Soviet Womens C om m ittee.13 T h e Soviet Premier, Nikolai Ryzhkov, has echoed this view by noting that “ for many years we believed in our country that all womens questions had been solved, but a deeper analysis and glasnost have revealed very many unfinished questions. . . .” 14 These remarks were delivered on Soviet television in connection with International Womens Day in March 1989. T h e Soviet leadership has thus been partially responsible for injecting womens issues into the reform ferment. T h e connection between reformist eras and opportunities to highlight their own grievances has not been lost on Soviet advocates of womens rights. Elvira Novikova, a scholar with a research interest on womens status and since 1987 vice-president of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


Women, contends that “all upswings in public life in this country (the Soviet Union) were accompanied by upswings in the womens movement.” She argues that the current democratization, like the New Economic Policy of the 1920s and Khrushchevs thaw, will facilitate the development of the “womens question” and the opening up of leadership opportunities for women, although she acknowledges that “women are not yet playing their due role in the decision-making process.” 15 Other aspects of the Gorbachev years that bear directly on the prospects for a womens movement include the rising tide of ethnic consciousness and the growing deficiencies and chãos in the consumer market. Soviet nationalities have been closing ranks against outsiders. In those areas of the Soviet Union where acerbic debates develop over language issues, greater autonomy, and even independence, powerful national movements probably will subsume womens organizations. Women will be drawn into national movements and may also form separate organizations to pursue particular national goals, such as the effort of Lithuanian women to secure changes in Soviet military Service policy, including the right of their conscripted sons to serve in Lithuania. In the long run, participation in national causes may spur the development of a womens movement by facilitating opportunities for women to learn relevant skills and to experience a struggle for liberation. By cutting further into the virtually nonexistent free time of Soviet women, the disintegrating consumer market poses a major threat to fledgling womens movements. T h e problem was bad enough prior to perestroika. With endemic shortages of basic consumer goods, an underdeveloped Service sector, and a lack of time- and labor-saving household devices, Soviet women who are fulfilling dual roles at home and in workplaces are under tremendous stress. In a study conducted during the 1970s, over 90 percent of Soviet women reported that after work they were “ moderately tired” or “very tired” ; the latter category included 45 to 69 percent of the women, rising with the number of children in the family.16 There is good reason for fatigue; over 90 percent of Soviet women of working age either are in the labor force or are students. These working women face a fierce double burden, putting in forty to forty-two hours at the workplace (including commuting time) and an additional forty hours a week doing household tasks such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Women do two and a half times as much housework as men, whose contribution mainly involves shopping; mothers spend a scant sixteen to seventeen minutes a day on child-rearing.17 A famous short story by Natalia Baranskaia, “A Week Like Any Other,” describes the life of a young Soviet urban professional woman, in which attending an after-work meeting engenders a sense of panic and ultimately a family crisis. Natalia arrives home to find an angry husband, unwashed dishes, and two children who are cranky and ill from the dinner their father prepared for them.18 Unfortunately, the Gorbachev years have not eased the lot of Soviet women. Indeed, problems associated with empty shelves and shortages of basic goods have grown more acute. According to survey research, a majority of the Soviet population


Perestroika from Below 4|

agrees with the statement that linesMn Stores grew longer from 1985 to 1988.19 Women spend even mòre time scouring the Stores and standing in queues to secure basic necessities for their families. Writing in 1989, a woman engineer from the provincial Russian city of Vladimir described family life as . . . like a subsistence economy . . . if a mother wants her child to be healthy, she herself becomes a nurse. . . . If she wants her child to eat well, she has to have, and work on, a small-holding. . . . If she wants her children to be well-dressed, she has to learn to sew and knit. . . . All these chores are generally handled by women.20

As the famous Soviet poet Evgenii Evtushenko has noted, women have three jobs: at the workplace, in lines, and with their children, homes, and kitchens.21 T h e heavy burdens placed on womens shoulders do bar them from taking a more public role, according to comments from well-placed Soviet citizens. Nadezhda Vasilevna Popova, a former pilot and a Hero of the Soviet Union, while deploring the paucity of women deputies elected to the new Congress in 1989, noted that women generally shy away from political battles and show little interest in exploring the reasons behind them; they are too overwhelmed by certain anxieties-how to feed, clothe, and clean.22 In a similar vein, Mikhail Poltaranin, an adviser to Boris Ebtsin, when asked why there were so few women in the Peoples Congress, responded that women do not know how to present themselves favorably and should not be forced into politics since they do most of the housework and have less free time.23 In sum, the reform era presents a paradoxical situation to an incipient womens movement. It invites Soviet citizens to take a fresh look at the “womens question,” but at the same time the rising tide of ethnic hostilities and the empty shelves in the Stores militate against the emergence of a womens movement.

The Soviet Leadership: How to Solve the “Womens Question ’ Although top Soviet leaders have injected womens issues into reform discussions, the actual content of their views does not favor a feminist vision of womens role in society. In addressing the status of women in Soviet society, both male and female officials generally have stressed themes that, in the short run, may ease womens heavy burdens, but, in the long run, are likely to reinforce pattems of inequality. Gorbachevs “ new thinking” about women and the family under perestroika captures the flavor of present Soviet thinking. . . . we failed to pay attention to womens specific rights and needs arising from their role as mother and home-maker, and their indispensable educational function as regards children. Engaged in scientific research, working on construction sites . . . women no longer have enough time to perform their everyday duties at home—

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


housework, the upbringing of children and the creation of a good family atmosphere. We have discovered that many of our problems— in childrens and young peoples behavior, in our morais, culture and in production— are partially caused by the weakening of family ties and slack attitude to family responsibilities. This is a paradoxical result of our sincere and politically justified desire to make women equal with men in everything. Now, in the course of perestroika, we have begun to overcome this shortcoming. That is why we are now holding heated debates . . . about the question of what we should do to make it possible for women to retum to their purely womanly mission.24

T h e “send the women back home” theme has met with considerable resonance in Soviet society. T h e concern is understandable. T h e magnitude of the problem can be grasped by noting that U.S. working mothers spend an average one hour and twenty-three minutes a day on child-rearing, compared to the aforementioned sixteen to seventeen minutes spent by their Soviet counterparts. There is a swarm of proposals in the Soviet press aimed at reducing womens involvement in the labor force and at enhancing their role as “keepers of the hearth.” Complementing the theme that women should participate less in the labor force and devote more time to their central tasks at home has been a renewed emphasis on the inappropriateness of certain types of work for women. Gorbachev has recomrhended the removal of women from strenuous jobs that are hazardous to their health. He sees the employment of women in particular spheres as abnormal, as part of the World War II legacy of extreme labor shortages and population imbalances.25 In the Soviet press there are a myriad o f articles denouncing the prevalence of women in heavy physical labor; it is treated as an insult to women, something shameful for the country, and a threat to womens reproductive capacities. In recent years womens working conditions have increasingly figured in discussions of the Soviet Unions alarmingly high infant mortality rates and the growing problem of birth defects. T h e Soviet infant mortality rate, at just under 25 per 1,000 babies bom , is more than double that of the United States. T h e Central Asian republics exhibit rates comparable to those of Cameroon and Guatemala; the infant mortality rates, for example, of Tadzhikistan and Turkmenia are, respectively, 4 8 .9 and 53.3 per 1,000 live births.26 T h e factors behind this embarrassing situation include influenza epidemics; under-equipped, understaffed and unsanitary maternity hospitais; short intervals between pregnancies among Central Asian women; increased alcoholism and smoking among women; pollution; poor prenatal care among busy working women; a high number of prior abortions among pregnant Slavic and Baltic women; declining rates of breast feeding; and the inadequate and poor quality of formula substitutes.27 W hile the precise role of poor working conditions cannot be assessed, this has not prevented political figures from positing a relationship. Deputy I.A. Yegorova, in her speech before the Peoples Congress, argued that women must be removed


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from night shifts and hazardous shops in order to protect their health and promote strong families.2S Soviet Union Deputy Culture Minister Nina Selkova has similarly contended that “doctors draw a direct link between working conditions and physical loads with the increase in womens illnesses and the pathology of pregnancy and births.”29 In Central Asia in particular, the exposure of women cotton field workers to defoliants has been singled out as a major reason behind their escalating health problems and a soaring infant mortality rate.30 Like his predecessors, Gorbachev points to shortcomings in everyday life— the shortage of childrens institutions, the underdeveloped spheres of Services and trade— as preventing women from fully exercising their rights. T h e problem involves the creation of conditions that enable women to more readily combine their roles as wives and mothers, and the formulas designed to accomplish this goal simply assume that housework and child-rearing are womens— not mens— responsibility. A Gorbachevian departure from conventional thinking did occur in his address to the special 19th party conference held in the summer of 1988, when the general secretary contended that one reason for long-standing deficiencies in the social sphere was the underrepresentation of women in executive bodies.31 Thus he introduced the idea that decisions directly affecting women have been resolved without their participation and opinions and that those decisions would have been different had women been present in executive positions. But this message has not figured prominently in Gorbachevs rhetoric, nor is it evident in cadre policy, although he has promoted one woman, Aleksandra Biriukova, to a position with major responsibility in the area of consumer welfare. Only a handful of women (including Biriukova) have achieved highly visible, prominent positions in the Soviet State. In general these women do not press for a feminist vision of women participating fully in the social, economic and political life of their country. They regard the goal of emancipation as having been achieved, since women now enjoy access to education and to jobs. T h e severe underre­ presentation of women in leadership evokes little concem; womens absence is viewed as stemming from “ natural” factors rooted in biological differences, since women by nature are regarded as more oriented toward family and children than toward the workplace. It is taken for granted that child-care and household work are womens work; the idea that men should share these tasks on an equal basis with women is passed over in silence. Women in positions of power devote great attention to the task of banning women from harmful and “ unfeminine” heavy physical labor. This concem reflects alarm over mounting problems associated with infant mortality, birth defects, and the generally poor health status of women and children. Aside from the health question, the image of women wielding shovels on a road construction site now is portrayed as an insult to women and as a shameful element of Soviet reaiity. T h e desire to move women out of “ mens work” reflects a more general effort to relieve women from the heavy burdens they have endured as a result of “too much equality.” Traditional motifs come to the foreground: what is needed is an

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


improved Service sector, modern household appliances, and an end to the perpetuai shortages of basic goods. Some not-so-traditional views have also emerged in the form of proposals designed to reorient women first and foremost tovvard their families and only secondarily toward the workplace. Hence a plethora of ideas concerning a shorter work day or shorter work week for working mothers, parttime work, remuneration for the roles of housewife and mother, longer paid maternity leaves, job sharing, and so on. T h e overall goal involves creating social conditions in which women can direct more attention and energy toward raising children and creating a healthy family atmosphere. To illustrate many of these points, we will briefly consider the views of four prominent women leaders, Aleksandra Biriukova, Nina Selkova, Tatiana Zaslavskaia and Zoia Pukhova. Biriukova, until mid-1990 the highest ranking woman in the Soviet government, was the only woman (and only the second in Soviet history) to serve on the Politburo, albeit as a candidate rather than full member. She served as Deputy Chairman of the U SSR Council of Ministers and chairman of the Bureau for Social Development. T h e latter position involved responsibilities in the areas of consumer goods production, health, education and sports. W hen asked to explain why few women achieve high political status, Biriukova has contended that womens absence from positions of power refíects their natural inclination toward children and family. Bias in favor of men plays no part.32 Like other high-level governmental officials, Biriukova was subjected to a grilling by the Supreme Soviet as part of her confirmation process. But comments made during the process demonstrate a condescending and skeptical attitude toward womens ability to withstand the heat of political fray. Premier Ryzhkov asked the deputies to show greater tact, since “ we're talking about a lady" and “every word leaves its mark."33 Biriukova herself, when interviewed on the major nightly news program Vremia confessed that she could have answered a number of questions better, “but obviously I was hindered by a certain excitement and purely, well, so to speak, female emotionalism which I have in my nature."34 Such comments do not strengthen faith in womens talents and capacities. Although Biriukova appears to have regarded herself as an ombudsperson for women, her record fails to show aggressive leadership on behalf of womens rights. For decades it has been illegal for women to work night shifts, except in cases of special need, yet more women work night shifts than men. W hile other women leaders have launched scathing attacks on the slow pace of withdrawing women from night shifts— at the present rate it will take fifty years to complete the job— Biriukova has sounded more like the traditional apparatchik concerned primarilv with production than with the needs of women: she has noted that “the situation will change some day" and cautioned that the changeover must occur gradually.35 Despite the prominent role health care has played in discussions of womens issues, Biriukova offered unrealistically low statistics on the numbers of abortions in the Soviet Union and overly optimistic scenarios regarding the availability of contraceptives in the near future. She did respond to a muckraking newspaper


Perestroika from Below

article describing horrendous conditfons at a Moscow abortion clinic by phoning the Minister of Health tb demand an investigation.36 W hile laudatory, the incident also suggests a remarkable ignorance of the lives of average Soviet women. Did she really need a Soviet newspaper to tell her about th is problem and to spur her into action? Perhaps due to frustration over the steadily worsening situation in the consumer sector, Biriukova resigned from both her state and party posts. T h e Twenty-eighth Party Congress in July 1990 marked her final appearance as a candidate member of the Politburo. T h e Politburo did not become an all-male bastion with her departure, however. T h e revamped secretariat that emerged from the Congress contained a new post for secretary of womens affairs. T h e position was filled by Galina Semenova, formerly an editor of the womens magazine Krestianka. T h e impact of Semenova was unclear at the time of this writing; but it was noteworthy that she was the lone female serving on a twenty-four-member Politburo. W hile the creation of a position devoted to womens affairs might have appeared a step forward, the absence of other women on the Secretariat and the Politburo suggested that womens influence has remained weak at the highest leveis of the party. Like Biriukova, another high-ranking woman in the government, the U SSR Deputy Culture Minister Nina Selkova, has asserted that Soviet women “today labor without being subjected to discrimination.” 37 In a speech carried live by Moscow Television Service in honor of International Womens Day in 1989, Selkova blasted the industrial ministries for not moving women out of harmful and/or heavy physical labor. She labelled such practices a threat to womens health and to childbearing. Selkovas diagnosis of womens problems is a familiar one. Womens multiple responsibilities as mothers, wives, and workers can be lightened by developing the consumer and Service sector. As she puts it, W hat is to blame . . .

is not just the shortage of essential goods, the queues, and

the poorly developed Services sphere, but the levei of mechanization of domestic labor as well. . . . And when social conditions change for the better, then, to a large extent, irritation will disappear, women will shout less at their children, they will love their husbands tenderly, and will become much more beautiful, kinder, and more elegant.38

T h e major thrust involves easing womens lives so they can devote more quality time to the private sphere. A third prominent figure, Tatiana Zaslavskaia, has provided additional fodder for the “send the women back home campaign.” A leading scholar and proponent of Gorbachevian style reforms, Zaslavskaia created a storm by publicizing the fact that the aveiage working woman spends a mere seventeen minutes a day caring for her children, with most of that time devoted to physical needs like feeding and dressing. T h e seventeen-minutes-a-day statistic is widely cited in speeches

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


and newspapers articles arguing for a reduction in the amount of time women engage in public work in favor of increasing the time available for raising children. Indeed, Zaslavskaia traces a variety of social ills, including brutality among adolescents, to womens absence from hearth and home. Like Selkova and Biriukova, Zaslavskaia explains why there are fewer women in management posts than men by noting that the majority of women lack aspirations to rise to the top in their professions and that “life itself holds a woman back just as soon as she starts a family.” And she endorses sweeping generalizations about womens and mens respective abilities: . . . We need to see clearly how and in what way they (women) are different from men. In the other sex, one encounters outstanding talents more often, and genius and evil are expressed more vividly. The extremes are mens lot. Women have a solid golden mean. Men are more diverse in terms of their inclinations and abilities, they are innovators in organizing life. Women are more conservative and stable because they are the transmitters of life. . . .?9

Thus even an outstanding scholar like Zaslavskaia advances a denigrating stereotype of women not only as different but as innately less talented than men. T h e rhetoric of Zoia Pukhova contrasts sharply with that of other prominent political women. Although she too deplores night shifts and demanding, laborintensive work, she rejects the views increasingly expressed on Soviet radio and television and in the print media that women should return home. Instead, she defends womens right to express themselves as Creative individuais and to enjoy social status. Most striking of all, she calls for an end to associating the home and the rearing of children solely with the mother; she assigns the father equal responsibility. And for her, the severe underrepresentation of women in high places— 48 percent of men with higher education hold positions of authority, while the comparable figure for women is 7 percent— signals injustice, the unfair treatment of women.40 A Potential Womens Movement Leadership Other voices offer alternative visions of womens future. A potential womens movement leadership is present among a small group primarily consisting of researchers in institutes associated with the U SSR Academy of Sciences and among journalists. Some of these individuais, as we shall see, show a proclivity for publicist and activist roles. A coherent, “egalitarian” approach to the womens question has, for example, been advanced by three women scholars, N. Zakharova, A. Posadskaia and N. Rimashevskaia. They argue that the stereotype in which men and women should perform only their “ natural” functions prevents a person from living up to his or her full potential. They call for a new division of labor in the household, in which men participate more in housework and child rearing. Benefits like leaves from work to care for children should be given to men as well as women. They


Perestroika from Below *•

propose that the Sovièt Constitution, whích currently guarantees womens right to combine motherhood with working, be amended to include men. Most striking of all, Zakharova and her co-authors attack stereotypes about women as socially conditioned. They relate hovv

There is a stereotypical view that women aren t geared toward professional success, that it isrft in their nature. . . . There is also a tendency to view a career as being incompatible with femininity. A woman is faced with a dilemma: She wants to “ remain a woman” and, at the same time, advance in her career. Usually she has to make a choice and ends up sacrificing career for family. Men do the opposite. These are not voluntary choices, but are determined by social conditions. There is a great social pressure to conform to the stereotypes, and this leads to constant nervous stress and conflicts in the family.41

T h e authors conclude that a woman pays a price in terms of tension and an inability to fulfill herself, while society suffers a loss of human and economic resources. Olga Voronina raises the closely related issue of womens diminished self-esteem and self-image. She argues that socialization has adversely affected the development of womens capacities; men and women have been taught to believe in womens inferior and second-rate qualities. Women themselves often adopt the principie of being two steps behind a man, or fear that success will lead to a loss of femininity. W hile calling for greater involvement by fathers in raising children, she also contends that the work of preschool and outside-the-school childrens institutions must be raised to a qualitatively new levei.42 Rather than focusing solely on removing women from “ unfeminine” work, scholars like T. Boldyreva, E. Novikova, O. Milova, and E . Zaliubovskaia have utilized womens involvement in arduous and dangerous labor as a take-off point for discussions of sex discrimination.4* They note that women are attracted to dangerous work because of greater benefits— higher pay, shorter working hours, earlier retirement. Thus many women are wilíing to trade health for the extra rubles or time with their families. It is hardly surprising: scholars (primarily women) have documented the low average pay in occupational categories in which women predominate. Instead of bans on women doing particular types of work, they pose the issue differently, asking for safe and healthy workplaces, for machinery built for the female body, or for a “ pay equity” approach in which wages in femaledominated branches would be readjusted upward. Thus there does exist a cadre of women embracing a commitment to equal opportunity, to the right of every individual to be judged on his or her merits, to choose from any line of work, and to enjoy opportunities for professional growth. These women decry Soviet society s tendency to search for single versions of happiness and to opt for extreme positions, like pushing women into production

Prospects for a Soviet Womens Movement


for seventy years and now turning around and chasing women back to the stove. Instead, they plead for choice, for creating social conditions in which women themselves can choose whether to pursue lives combining motherhood and career, or to make a primary commitment only to career or homemaking.

The Mass Media In order to spread feminist ideas and ultimately mobilize individuais behind a feminist platform, access to the mass media or, altematively, the development of the movements own Communications network is vital. Although the Soviet press contains many articles addressing the womens question, few advocate a feminist vision of women and men enjoying equal rights and responsibilities in the home and in society at large. At this point media attention to any would~be womens movement or to the ideas supportive of such a movement is minimal. This does not mean that sophisticated feminist critiques of Soviet society do not exist. They do, but largely within specialized journals like Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia (Sociological Research) and Ekonomika i organizatsiia promyshlennogo proizvodstva (Economics and Organization o f industrial Production). T h e positions taken in these articles, however, show signs of “leaking” into the more popular press. T h e accumulation of previously unpublished data documenting disparities in pay and .promotion rates, in opportunities for further professional development, and so on, provides cannon fodder for present and future activists who are fighting for womens rights. In the mass media the periodical Moscow News has proved most receptive to far-reaching discussions of womens issues. Indeed, Moscow News has invited Nina Beliaeva, a feminist activist and researcher at the Institute of State and Law of the Academy of Sciences in Moscow, to contribute articles on a regular basis to the newspaper. T h e articles of the journalist Larisa Kuznetsova clearly have spurred at least some women to rethink their situation. In the journal Novoe Vremia, Kuznetsova has written scathing critiques of the Soviet health care Systems treatment of women, labelled women the most marginal group in society, and called on women to make serious efforts to change society through “a womens public movement, not a purely formal, over-bureaucratized movement, but a real one such as unfortunately does not as yet exist in this country.”44 As a result of her work, Kuznetsova received an invitation to meet with an independent-minded womens council at the Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, and ultimately became their candidate for the Supreme Soviet. It was the first Soviet electoral contest sponsored by women; and, as Nina Beliaeva has noted, “ If we ever write a history of the Soviet womens movement, it will begin with this campaign”.45 Although Kuznetsovas election bid was unsuccessful, it resulted in the founding of the Womens Initiatives Club, discussed in greater detail below. In recent years the official womens magazines, Rabotnitsa (Woman Worker), Krestianka (Woman Peasant), and Sovetskaia Zhenshchina (Soviet Woman) have


Perestroika from Below

become more outspoken, though müch o fth e content of the magazines remains focused on exceptional 'personalities and advice on love, raising children, hair styles, and sewing and cooking. In general, Rabotnitsa has adopted the refrain more commonly heard in society at large: vve must improve womens working conditions, free women from “ unfeminine” work, and adopt reforms designed to allow women to devote more time to their roles as mothers and wives. However, one recent issue of Rabotnitsa did discuss competing ideas about the future of women in Soviet society; other issues contained articles advocating parental (rather than maternal) leaves and an interview with the popular journalist Vladimir Pozner, who called on women to stop expecting kindness from men and to start actively using the media, the electoral process, and social organizations to press for change on their own behalf.46 It should be added that Pozner has hosted the outspoken feminist Elvira Novikova on television.47 In addition to these official outlets, Olga Lipovskaia, a veteran of the human rights movement in Leningrad, publishes a samizdat magazine for women entitled Z henskoe Chtenie (Womaris Reading). This journal features translations of articles, poems, and short stories by Western feminists as well as excerpts from the shortlived Z henshchina i Rossiia, a feminist samizdat journal that existed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. W hile the circulation of the journal remains low, it should be pointed out that Lipovskaia is attempting to fill a gap: Western feminist works, including classics like Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex and Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique, have not been translated into Russian. Communications seem to be problematic at this point. W hile a foothold has been gained in outlets like Moscow News, the transformation of official womens magazines into important feminist voices seems unlikely. Among unofficial groups, new clearing houses for information and even independent presses are developing. It is too early to tell the extent to which womens groups will take advantage of these recently conceived efforts at creating resources and periodicals outside the “box” of officially established, state-owned structures.

Womens Organizations In the Soviet Union there is no dearth of womens organizations whose raisond’être involves the defense of womens rights. Unfortunately, however, these or­ ganizations owe their existence to orders from above rather than spontaneous movement from below. In 1985 General Secretary Gorbachev pronounced himself in favor of revitalizing womens councils as a means of resuscitating the womens movement and thereby ensuring that womens opinions be taken into account on questions directly affecting their interests. With great haste, over 2 4 0 ,0 0 0 womens councils were established, primarily at work places.48 Officially, these councils are organized under the Soviet Womens Committee, currently headed by the outspoken Zoia Pukhova. T h e organizational structure and origins of the womens councils thus closely resemble those of other traditional mass organizations like Komsomol

Prospects for a Soviet Womens Movement


(the Young Communist League): they are hierarchical, vertical, and beset with bureaucracy. Womens councils are described as engaged in party work, as assisting the Communist Party in achieving its aims. W hile the activities of the womens councils should not be dismissed— they do work on measures designed to ease the burdens of Soviet women— their focus nonetheless remains narrow, directed more toward the amelioration of routine problems than questioning the overall position of women in Soviet society. Based on Soviet press descriptions, womens councils generally strive to improve working conditions and everyday concerns: to change work regimes (flexible hours, working at Home), foster healthier workplaces, and organize on-site food orders and sometimes the sale of manufactured goods. Some womens councils have helped single mothers, opened clubs for young families, tackled ecological issues, or sought to lower illness rates among children in preschools. And still others have embarked on more marginal enterprises: organizing programs to honor couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries or mothers with sons serving in the Soviet armed forces, lectures on family life, cooking, and so on. Even within this narrow scope it appears that all is not well. Many people appear mystified by the womens soviets, considering them a superfluous entity that duplicates the functions of trade unions and work collectives. Moreover, most womens councils lack authoritative leaders and tend to avoid conflict; the overall record reflects a shy, passive approach to defending womens interests. Interestingly, one observer of the womens councils has commented that the effective ones are led by influential women who are Party or local Soviets' functionaries or the wives of garrison commanders.49 Women committed to a more active stance have argued that “the womens movement . . . must not be reduced to womens councils/' They note that

There are dozens of womens organizations throughout the world engaged in political, economic, and peace-making activities. We only have the Soviet Womens Committee. And this is yet another W hy? for us to ponder.50

Indeed, the establishment of new womens organizations beyond the official hierarchy represents the most promising sign that a Soviet womens movement does have a future. T h e formation of new groups outside the structure of the womens councils is taking place along lines of professional interests, humanitarian concerns, nationalism, and a more general concern with the empowerment of women. T h e professional groups that have formed in Moscow include an international press club of women journalists, whose purpose is to enhance womens role and prestige in international journalism; a women film-makers' union and women writers' clubs; and incipient associations of women engineers and of women scientists.51 In the future these

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organizations may play an important role in the struggle to achieve greater opportunity for women' within particular professions. T he revival of charitable work in the Soviet Union as well as national movements provide additional avenues for womens social activism.52 A Latvian womens Catholic club and Human Fate, a group organized by the writer Lilia Beliaeva, focus on assisting the needy. On the nationality front the Lithuanian Womens Association has actively supported the quest for greater autonomy and, ultimately, independence; the association has defended the rights of Lithuanian conscripts by calling for the formation of national military units, shortening soldiers' terms of Service, and establishing options for conscientious objectors. T h e most significant development for the evolution of a feminist conciousness is the formation by a group of Moscovv women scholars of L O T O S , the League for Society s Liberation from Stereotypes. T h e feminist Olga Voronina has played an important role in the formation of this organization and has described its purposes as follows: " L O T O S invites women to think about the crucial question: Why is society unfair to them? How will women go on being regarded as secondrate citizens?” 53 In their spare time L O T O S members lecture on the aims of the womens movement in the Soviet Union and the world and meet with women from other organizations. T h e goal is to debunk hackneyed formulas that obstruct the development of a womens movement in the Soviet Union. Another promising start has taken place at the Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute, in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow. Here the above-mentioned Club of Womens Initiatives was founded, "to bring women together, to help them acquire new information, work out independent views, compare these with other views— in short, to develop.” 54 T h e group considers itself part of a womens movement, committed to advancing womens consciousness. Aside from the womens councils, these organizations are of recent vintage, many of them arising in 1989. W hether they will flourish or flounder remains to be seen, but one hopes that these groups have established a foundation for what surely will be a íong struggle ahead.

Gender Consciousness T he potential for growth of groups like L O T O S will rest upon the extent to which cognitive obstacles to a womens movement can be hurdled. T h e key issue involves the presence of gender consciousness among Soviet women. Because of shortcomings in the availability of relevant public opinion survey research, as well as the rapid changes convulsing Soviet society, it is difficult to paint an accurate picture of the distribution of womens attitudes on "fem inist” issues. Nonetheless, the weight of evidence does point to certain conclusions regarding the key elements of gender consciousness. Gender consciousness implies that women recognize that they receive inequitable treatment, reject that treatment as unjust, and commit themselves to common

Prospects for a Soviet Womens Movement


action geared toward redressing grievances. Soviet citizens do perceive disparities in the life conditions that face men and women. T h e Soviet Interview Projects survey of former Soviet citizens found that in response to the question, “Taking everything into account, who has the better life in the Soviet Union— men or women?” an overwhelming majority of both genders agreed that women had things worse.55 T h e survey thus suggests the existence of a general perception of inequality in life conditions. Most Soviet women do not, however, react to these disparities with a sense of moral outrage. In other words, they do not regard themselves as the victims of sex discrimination. There is widespread acceptance of an ideology that consigns women to a primary role in the family and a secondary role in the larger society. From village grannies to scholarly tracts, Soviet society exudes a “biology is destiny” approach to sex roles: men and women are “ naturally” and “ inevitably” viewed as possessing different qualities, abilities, preferences, values, morais, understandings of life. W hile femininity implies caution, patience, tendemess, tactfulness, nurturing, shyness, neatness, conscientiousness, accuracy, obedience, industriousness, softness, and emotionality, the essence of masculinity, as a Soviet psychologist recently put it, “means civic courage and responsibility towards friends, women, the family, the country, humanity.” 56 Against th is background of widely accepted gender role stereotyping, it is easy to resolve what appears to be a contradiction in Soviet thinking regarding women. While women are held to be equal with men, with all paths open to them, it is widely assumed that they will naturally be drawn to those paths that are connected with womens nature, and that a “ real” woman will sacrifice her professional interests to family concems. A welter of evidence lends support to the proposition that most women in fact accept male precedence in the public arena. In the interviews with Moscow women conducted by two Swedish scholars, Carola Hansson and Karin Liden, certain themes repeatedly arise: women think they have gained equality; they consider their husbands’ careers more important than their own; they believe men and women have different obligations and goals in life; and they often judge women less suitable for responsible jobs than men.57 T h e memoirs of a Soviet emigre, Cathy Youngs Growing up in Moscow, also confirm the extent to which sexism (unrecognized as such) dominates Soviet thinking. Young relates how Soviet schools consider it important to teach girls (but not boys) housekeeping skills, how the Soviet press teems with references to “the weaker sex” and “feminine meekness,” and how college admissions committees routinely admit boys over girls who did better on the exams, in the belief that the boys ultimately are more valuable assets than girls. And she notes that many women, believing that men, as men, should not have to stand in lines, acquiesce to men cutting in front of them.58 Instead of championing women, prominent Soviet women writers often express harsh, denigrating, or patriarchal visions of womens place. Tatiana Tolstaia, for example, has declared that the only thing worse than a male bureaucrat is a


Perestroika from Below

female one; male rule^is preferable to female tyranny. Victoria Tokareva has stated that “a woman withoufr a Family is without a master, like a stray anim ar'; while Zoia Boguslavskaia believes that women suffer from too many rights and doubts that there is any reason for women to go into fíelds historically occupied by men.59 Soviet surveys of mens and womens attitudes toward work confírm that an overriding majority of young women in the work force, unlike young men, do not place a high value on opportunities for professional development and upward mobility. Indeed, they often seek less responsibility in order to devote more time to child-rearing; they see the primary source of fulfillment and meaning within the family context. Yet these same studies also show that a significant proportion of young women, forty percent in one study, consider opportunities for professional growth a significant element in their evaluations of work situations.60 Moreover, the attachment to the work force remains strong; a recent Soviet survey showed that eighty percent of women stated that they would continue to work even if their families did not need their economic contribution.61 And the commitment to work force participation rises with the levei of education. W hile a sense of relative deprivation may be inhibited by sex-role ideology, Soviet conditions do provide women with an array of potential grievances. T h e gap between womens professional/educational leveis and their actual achievements is far greater than it is for men. W hat is missing is an interpretation of these disparities as a reflection of discrimination rather than the workings of biological, instinctual factors. To react to womens situation with moral outrage rather than passive acquiescence represents a necessary prerequisite for a womens movement, and, as we have seen, there are Soviet women bent on achieving this transformation in womens consciousness. These feminist activists have been assisted by the crumbling of the Soviet Unions isolation from the larger world. As images of alternative realities reach Soviet society, women increasingly find the strength to reject certain features of their society. O n a personal levei, Nina Beliaeva has related how contacts with Western feminists made her realize that she shared their views, that she too was a feminist. Favorable references to the scholarly and polemicai works of Western feminists now occur in the writings of some Soviet researchers. And foreign examples have provided fuel for attacking Soviet realities: women journalists have demanded greater opportunities to serve as foreign correspondents, noting the nurnbers of foreigners of their own gender holding such positions for West German, British, Italian, Spanish, and American periodicals. T h e idea that women are ill suited for high state positions similarly has been mocked by pointing to foreign experience; and even the space-bridge television shows have led commentators to question why Soviet women wish to discuss love and femininity while American women wanted to talk about public events.62 But even the perception of common grievances is insufficient: would Soviet women step forward, unite to work on behalf of womens causes? Studies of Soviet emigres have found that women are less interested in politics and have lower

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement


leveis of political efficacy than do men.63 Women are used to thinking that the State will take care of their problems— housing, child-care, consumer goods— and regard issues like the division of labor at home a personal rather a public concern. And, of course, the brutal double burden that afflicts womens lives leaves them bereft of the time and energy for outside activities. Traditionally, the levei of womens social activism has fallen off sharply after marriage. On the positive side, emigre surveys suggest that women with more feminist attitudes possess greater interest in politics and greater tolerance for competing political philosophies.64 A lack of gender consciousness thus poses an important barrier to the development of a womens movement. Soviet society has long propagated a view of womans place that assigns her a lesser role in the larger society than man. Moreover, overcoming Soviet womens political passivity will continue to pose a major problem.

Conclusion Will a womens movement gain ground in the Soviet Union? Predicting the future is always a dangerous enterprise. As one astute student of the American womens movement has observed, in 1962 few women showed any interest in feminism but by the end of the decade a feminist protest movement was competing for headlines in the daily press.65 In the Soviet case, there is a foundation for a womens movement. On the positive side, the current reform effort includes greater emphasis on the individual personality. Movement away from ' collectivism” and collective labeis encourages views of women (and men) as unique persons who possess the right to fulfill their potential. In addition, a talented, potential womens movement leadership, consisting largely of academics/researchers and journalists, has armed itself with facts and a well-developed philosophy. Like their nineteenth and early twentieth century predecessors, these women are largely drawn from the intelligentsia, especially from careers that readily combine with activism on behalf of womens rights. By advocating the creation of social conditions supportive of choice, these feminists promise to bridge diverse constituencies— women frustrated because they cannot stay at home as well as women frustrated by limited professional opportunities. New organizational networks are developing, including some with the explicit goal of fostering a womens movement and battling stereotypes about ' ‘womens place” . T h e influx of new images— of other realities— from the outside world assists in this cause. Perhaps most significant of all, there are substantial numbers of Soviet women with substantial grounds for dissatisfaction with the status quo. But the road ahead will be difficult. T h e arduous daily lives of Soviet women rob them of any time or energy for activism of any sort. T h e reform era has unleashed not only Progressive forces but has also generated a backlash against womens emancipation which now is variously dismissed as an erroneous MarxistLeninist idea or as the cause of weakened families and rising crime rates. T he


Perestroika from Below

womens problem is reduced to shortages of goods and Services, and sex role ideology explains away glaring disparities as “ natural” and “ inevitable.” Soviet citizens long to live in a “ normal” or “civilized” country, but there is considerable confusion over just what such an entity would be. T h e current disenchantment with the “emancipated” woman reflects that turmoil; there are those who claim women suffer from too much equality and should return to “hearth and home” and there are those who submit that women have never in fact achieved equality and that the goal remains on the agenda. As traditional sex-role ideology is increasingly challenged and Soviet womens own images of themselves begin to change, the message of the latter group is likely to have greater appeal.

Notes 1. As cited in Jo Freeman,

The Politics of Womens Liberation (New York: David

McKay C o., 1975), 47 . 2. N. Zakharova, A. Posadskaia, and N. Rimashevskaia, “ Kak my reshaem zhenskii vopros,”

Kommunist 1989: 4, 6 3 - 6 4 . samizdat almanac of Soviet feminists,” Radio Liberty

3. See Julia Wishnevsky, “T h e

Research R L 143/80 (April 15, 1980); and Yuliia Voznesenskaia, “The independent womens movement in Rússia,” Religion in Communist Countries 10:3 (1989), 3 3 3 -3 3 6 . 4. William H. Chafe, The American Woman: Her Changing Social, Economic and Political Roles, 1920-1970 (Oxford University Press), 227. 5. Richard Stites, The Womens Liberation Movement in Rússia (Princeton: Princeton


University Press, 1978), 22.

The Politics of Womens Liberation; and Nancy E . McGlen and Karen Womens Rights: The Struggle for Equality in the Nineteenth and Twentieth

6. See Freeman, 0 ’Connor,

Centuries (New York: Praeger, 1983). 7. Stites, The Womens Liberation Movement in Rússia, 3 5 -3 6 . 8. Richard Stites, “The womens liberation issue in nineteenth century Rússia,” in Tova Yedlin (ed.),

Women in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union (New York: Praeger, 1980),

22 . 9. Barbara Evans Clements, “ Bolshevik women: the first generation,” in Yedlin, (ed.),

Women in Eastern Europe . . . , 6 5 - 7 4 . 10. See Freeman, The Politics of Womens Liberation, and Patricia Gurin, “ Womens gender consciousness,” Public Opinion Quarterly 4 9 (1985): 1 4 3 -1 6 3 . 11. Gurin, “ Womens gender consciousness,” 1 4 6 -1 4 7 . 12. Helen Mayer Hacker, “ Women as a minority group,”

Social Forces 30:10 (1951),

6 0 -6 9 . 13. “ On progress in the implementation of the decisions of the 27th C P S U Congress and the tasks of deepening restructuring,”

Current Digest of the Soviet Press 40 : 26 (July

27, 1988), 21. 14. “ Ryzhkov meets womens international press club,” 1989), 30. 15. Natalia Karaminova, “ Politics not for women?”

FBIS Daily Report (March 9,

Moscow News (March 12, 1989).

Prospects for a Soviet Womerís Movement 16. “ How surveyed women feel after work,” 31 (August 30, 1978), 10.


Current Digest of the Soviet Press 30:

17. O. A. Voronina, “Zhenshchina v ‘muzhskom obshchestve’,” Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia 1988: 2, 106; E . Ye. Novikova and B.P. Kutyrev, “ Problems and ways to solve them: the quantity and qualitv of labor/' Current Digest cf the Soviet Press 30: 30 (August 23, 1978), 4; response to letter by I. Sergeev, A rgumenty i fakty 1989: 35, 8. Curiouslv, Argumenty i fakty gives the figure of sixteen minutes vvhile most other pubiications cite the figure of seventeen minutes.

Novyi mir 1969: 11, 2 3 -5 5 . Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia 1989: 4, 3 -1 2 . 20. írina Avrutskaia, “ Openings for w om en/’ Moscow News 3989: 38, 13. 21. Evgenii Evtushenko, “S zhenshchin nachinaetsia narod,” Literaturnaia gazeta (May 18. N. Baranskaia. “ Nedelia kak nedelia/'

19. V.O. Rukavishnikov, “ Ochered’,”

3, 1989), 11.

Sovetskaia Rossiia (June 3, 1989), 2. FBIS Daily Report (April 4, 1989), 45. 24. Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinkitig for Our Country and the World 22. T. Kariakina, “Zhenskii golos na s”ezde,” 23. “ Yeltsins advisor interviewed,"

(New York: Harper and Row, 1987), 117. 25. Ibid. 26. Esther B. Fein, “ In Soviet Asia backwater, infancy s a rite of survival,”

The New

York Times (August 14, 1989), A l, A6. 27. Ibid.; and Murray Feshbach, “The Soviet Union: population trends and dilemmas,"

Population Bulletin 37: 3, 3 3 -3 4 . 28. “ Stenographic record,” FBIS Daily Report (August 18, 1989), 14. 29. “ Deputy Minister reports at meeting," FBIS Daily Report (March 8, 1989), 49. 30. Fein, “ In Soviet Asia backwater. . . .” 31. “ On progress in the implementation . . . ,” 21. 32. Bill Keller, “A Soviet womans point of view,”

New York Times (January 24, 1989).

33. A. Liuty, A. Murtazaiev, and A. Cherniak, “The Soviet government is being formed,”

Current Digest of the Soviet Press 4 0 : 34 (September 20, 1989), 20. FBIS Daily Report (June 21, 1989), 46. “ Debates,” FBIS Daily Report (July 3, 1989), 68.

34. “ Proposed social development head/' 35.

36. Keller, “A Soviet womans point of view.” 37. “ Deputy minister reports at meeting,” 48. 38. Ibid., 4 8 - 4 9 . 39. Ye. Manchurova and I. Melenevskii, “ Point of view: work, children and fate,”

Current Digest of the Soviet Press 40: 10 (April 6, 1988), 30. 40. “Vystuplenie tovarishcha Pukhovoi Z.P.,” Pravda (July 2, 1988), 11. 41. Zakharova, et al., “ Kak my reshaem zhenskii vopros,” 62. 42. Voronina, “ Zhenshchina v ‘muzhskom obshchestve’,” 107. 43. Tatiana Boldyreva, “ You won't stop the revolutionary horse in his tracks,” Soviet Sociology 28:5 ( 19S9), 102—118; E .E . Novikova, O .L . Milova, and E. V. Zaliubovskaia, “Modern woman at work and at home,” Soviet Sociology 28:5 (1989), 8 9 -1 0 1 . 44. “Through womens eyes,” New Times 1989: 10, 34. 45. Nina Beliaeva, “The unmarked road to Soviet feminism, In Thcse Times 14: 7, 13.

Perestroika from Below


46 . See, for exampíev the articles organized under the heading “ Diskussionnyi klub,”

Rabotnitsa 1986: 5, 2 4 —26; and Daliía Akivis, “ Materinstvo i ‘otchestvo’,” Rabotnitsa 1988: 6, 2 1 -2 3 . For the Pozner interview, see Irina Skliar, “ Ne nado zhdat’ milostei ot . . . muzhchin!”

Rabotnitsa 1989: 3, 2 2 - 2 3 . Soviet Women: Walking the Tightrope (New York:

47. Francine Du Plessix Gray, Doubleday, 1989), 9 0 -9 1 .

48. “ Womens movement must not be reduced to womens councils,”

Moscow News

1989: 29, 12. 49 . Ibid. 50. Ibid. 51. Beliaeva, “The unmarked road . . .” ; Inna Vasilkova, “Thirty-three women and

Moscow News 1988: 52, 12; Larisa Vasilieva, “ First signs in officialdom,” Current Digest of the Soviet Press 41: 25 (July 19, 1989), 3 3 -3 4 . one man,”

52. Vasilieva, “ First signs in officialdom” ; “ Lithuanian womens club appeals to C P S U ,”

FBIS Daily Report (Sept. 27, 1989), 8 2 - 8 3 ; and “ Mothers demonstrate for conscripts’ rights,” FBIS Daily Report (Aug. 8, 1989), 94. 53. Natalia Pavlova, “ Stereotypes and reality,” Moscow News 1989: 24, 13. 54. “ Womens movement must not . . . ,” 12. 55. James R. Millar and Elizabeth Clayton, “ Quality of life: subjective measures of

Politics, Work, and Daily Life in the USSR: A Survey of Former Soviet Citizens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 51. 56. S. Nikologorskii, “ Effeminate men— no!” Moscow News 1988: 6 - 7 . 57. Carola Hansson and Karin Liden, Moscow Women: Thirteen Interviews (New York: relative satisfaction,” in James R. Millar (ed.),

Pantheon Books, 1983). 58. Cathy Young,

Growing up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood (New York:

Ticknor & Fields, 1989). 59. Tatiana Tolstaia, “ In a land of conquered men: who is the ‘Soviet woman?’ ”

News 1989: 38,13; Sigrid McLaughlin, “An interview with Victoria Tokareva,” Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme 10 (1989): 4, 7 5 -7 6 ; “Zoia Boguslavskaia on Soviet women,” Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme 10

M gscow

(1989): 4, 5 7 -6 0 . 60. N.I. Driakhlov, I.V. Litvinova, and V.V. Pavlova, “ Otsenki muzhchinami i zhenshchinami uslovii truda: sblizhenie ili differentsiiatsiia?”

Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia 1987:

4, 111-114. 61. “ Vystuplenie tovarishcha Pukhova Z.P.,” 11. 62. Vasilkova, “ 33 women and one man "; Natalia Kraminova, “Thy name be hallowed:

Moscow News 1988: 7. Political attitudes and the gender gap in the USSR: evidence from former Soviet citizens, Soviet Interview Project, Working Paper #

interview with prosaist Maia Ganina,”

63. Ellen Carnaghan and Donna Bahry,

53 (University of Illinois at IJrbana-Champaign, October 1988). 64. Ibid. 65. Chafe,

The American Woman, 226.

6 P erestroika for Women Laurie Essig and Tatiana Mamonova

'T h e Dress from Cardin” Pierre Cardin appeared on Red Square wearing a loose-fitting suit with wide shoulders, his tie fluttering in the wind. Cardin was encircled by his models— young women, captivating in corsets and corsages. Most of them wore hoops in their skirts, which forced one to contemplate whether these women could sit in an armchair or ride on a bus. A Pravda correspondent, N. Krasnoiartsev, assured his readers that most of these dresses are quite practical. Cardin merely suggested that “ [e]very revolution breaks down all the canons,” and, with a bewitching smile, shrugged the wide shoulders of his jacket.1 Perestroika for women has been as enigmatic as Cardin on Red Square. It is cause for celebration when Soviet women finally have access to Western goods, but Pierre Cardin designer originais are hardly the Western goods which Soviet women need. In a country where abortion is the primary form of birth control and sanitary products are scarce, Cardin on Red Square seems more like a cause for lament than celebration. Like Cardin, the current reform of Soviet society is creating new possibilities for women. Yet it is not at all clear that these possibilities will actually help women. There is now intense debate on how to improve the lives of women, on the “womans question.” This debate includes a wide variety of previously silenced voices, ranging from “feminist” to “ feminine.” O n the one hand, the government is pursuing policies which reinforce traditional conceptions of women in society, the “ feminine.MThis blatantly sexist policy places primary, almost exclusive, emphasis on womens roles as mothers and wives. T h e official policy is serving State interests of increasing birthrates while simultaneously entrenching womens exclusion from economic and political power. These state interests are further bolstered by the cohesion of certain cultural, political, and

We thankfully acknowledge the translating assistance of M . Maxwell.


Perestroika from Below


economic trends in^Soviet society: These trends only further the propensity to define womens primaVy societal function as domestic. Unfortunateiy, the alternatives that are being offered to this policy offer little hope of actually improving the position of women in Soviet society. Instead, these other voices of glasnost too often look to Western concepts of '‘civil society” and “ rule of law” in order to achieve equality for women. These Western imports are uncritically accepted as offering hope to Soviet women, despite the fact that Western experiences contradict such an assumption. In order to understand why the current approaches to the “womans question” will probably not improve, and possibly could worsen, the lives of women in the Soviet Union, it will be heipful to consider the actual position of women in Soviet society and the ways in which Soviets, both official and unofficial, are responding to that position. Both of these considerations will be evaluated within a framework which envisions how the rights of women might be ensured. Finally, an attempt will be made to predict the future of women under perestroika. Unfortunateiy, this future appears to be as problematic for women as Cardins corsets and hoops.

W omens Rights as Human Rights Before beginning an analysis of what is lacking in Soviet policies toward women, it is necessary to describe what would be heipful in such policies. Basically, any policy aimed at women should attempt to ensure their fundamental human rights. Put simply, all humans have the right to live a life of dignity. This right has been reaffirmed by the Soviet Union many times.2 However, womens rights must sometimes be guaranteed through special forms because of the degree to which sexism has flourished.? A necessary precondition to ensuring the rights of women is a policy that reflects what Norma Noonan describes as “ feminism.” According to Noonan, feminism is a “ . . . social philosophy that focuses on the conscious pursuit of full equality for women beyond the confines of formal legal equality . . . encompasses, but is not limited to, the advocacy of complete economic, political, and social parity between men and women in the work force, the home and society. ”4

Policies toward women will be further evaluated for the degree to which they foster gender equality and gender attainment. Gender equality, according to David Sugarman and Murray Strauss, is the “ . . . degree to which there is equality between the sexes. . . ,” while gender attainment is the “ . . . extent to which members of a particular gender have achieved such socially valued statuses as education, economic resources, and physical and mental health.” 5

Perestroika for Women


The Position of Women in the Soviet Union Formal Equality Soviet women have often been considered among the most liberated in the world. After all, women in the Soviet Union have enjoyed legal equality since 1920.6 This equality is guaranteed by Article 35 of the current Soviet Constitution. According to Article 35, equal rights are to be “ensured” by according women “ . . . equal access . . . in educational and vocational and professional training, equal opportunities in employment, remuneration, and promotion, and in social, political and cultural activities, as well as through special labor and health measures for women. . .”7 This de jure equality of women has also been upheld in various other documents, including the United Nations Convention for Ending all forms of Discrimination Against Women (C E D A W ). T h e Soviet government recently reaffirmed its commitment to womens legal equality at the end of its Second Periodic Report to the U.N. committee which evaluates signatory nations’ adherence to CED AW .8 According to the theoretical criterion of “ feminism” outlined by Noonan, the legal position of Soviet women is one which engenders equality. Yet this formal equality of women is not manifest in the reality of Soviet womens lives. This systemic inequality becomes apparent when one considers the position of Soviet women in the occupational, educational, and political spheres.

Structural Inequalities Education. 54 percent of all students at higher education establishments in the Soviet Union are women. Women constitute 58 percent of the student bodies at Soviet specialized secondary educational institutions.9 W hen Soviet women and men marry, they have roughly equivalent leveis of education in terms of quality and duration.10 Despite these rather impressive achievements, there are some persistent manifestations of sexual inequality within the realm of Soviet education. Although women and men start out with equivalent leveis of education at the time of marriage, men are twice as likely as women to improve their education.11 Not only are women less likely to continue their education after marriage, but the education they do receive will be fraught with sexual stereotyping. One survey of Soviet childrens readers used in the primary years of education found that men were portrayed as politically involved, having a positive self-image, and a potential for leadership. However, women were shown as more concerned with domestic chores and the advancement of others, were politically naive, and had a negative self-image.12 This sexual stereotyping is evident in Soviet curricula, where only girls attend courses on “ Household skill and knowledge,” and in the fact that girls continue to enter fields which are predominantly female.n These


Perestroika from Below

female occupations,.** or “ pink ghettos,” are less prestigious and economically beneficiai than occupations which dont have a preponderance of females.14 Employment. Soviet women have entered the work force in large numbers and in a wide variety of fields. Unfortunately, there remains a sharp disparity in pay betvveen men and women, a disproportionate number of women in unskilled labor, and a continued underrepresentation of women at the upper end of the occupational hierarchy.15 Even in spheres which are dominated by women, women earn only 6 5 -7 5 percent of what men do. Indeed, almost one-third of women earn less than 100 rubles per month, while only 2 percent of men earn such a low wage.16 Earlier studies concluded that such income disparities were not so much the result of less than equal pay for equal work as they were the outcome of “pink ghettos/' That is, the majority of women work in trade and the hotel and restaurant industry, public health and social welfare, education, or light industry. One Soviet sociologist, Olga Voronina, explains that these . . female occupations were formed by transposing traditionally female chores in the family to the macro levei.” 17 Since these female occupations have a lower wage on average than occupations overall, these studies concluded that wage disparities could be explained by the occurrence of occupational segregation.18 However, more recent studies found that the majority of women actually do receive less pay than their male counterparts for the same work.19 Lack of equality in pay has led many women to work under hazardous conditions in order to receive higher wages. One study found that in the metallurgical industry, 9 0 percent of the women insisted on working under physically adverse conditions in order to receive more benefits.20 Such jobs are particularly dangerous to women. T h e negative effects of this employment are evident in the number of complications in pregnancy and childbirth among women workers and the health of newborns. Women workers experience almost twice as many premature births as Soviet women overall. In terms of infant mortality, the Soviet Union rates alongside Barbados as fiftieth in the world.21 Not only do women receive less money than men, they also tend to be employed in occupations that require little skill. According to the Soviet census, two out of three women are employed in physical occupations.22 Forty percent of women with specialized secondary or higher educations are employed in jobs which need little or no skill (versus 6 percent of men). Only 10 percent of women hold highly skilled jobs, while 46 percent of men hold such jobs.23 T h e propensity for women to be employed in low-skill, physical labor is probably nowhere more evident than in the countryside. Most rural Soviet women work in seasonal, low-skilled and physical labor.24 Men in the rural labor force usually fill the more mechanized positions, which offer higher wages and less physical strain.25 This occupational discrimination is exacerbated by the fact that women also tend to experience a comparatively low degree of upward occupational mobility. Eighty percent of Soviet men move up within the hierarchy of their occupation.

Perestroika for Women


Less than half of Soviet women do so and women tend not to advance as far as men.26 This bias against women moving to the top of occupational hierarchies occurs even in fields like education, where there is a preponderance of women. While 81 percent of all teachers of the first through eleventh grades are female, women constitute only 41 percent of the principais of eight-year schools and 36 percent of secondary school principais.27

Politics. Continued discrimination against women is also evident within the political sphere. This discrimination can be seen in the composition of various elected bodies and even within the composition of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (C P SU ). Although women constitute 50 percent of the territorial, regional, provincial, district, municipal, village and rural soviets,28 the percentage of women steadily decreases on the way up the political hierarchy.29 Women account for only onethird of the membership of the Supreme Soviet. As members of the Supreme Soviet, women do not enjoy equality with their male counterparts. Women are re-selected less often than men and are less likely to be nominated to higher bodies. Although this bias may stem from a bias against womens occupations, there is no denying that the net effect is to exclude women from political experience and upward mobility.30 Women do not fare any better within the Communist Party itself. Women make up 27 percent of the C P S U s membership. This 27 percent represents only 3 percent of the total female population. In comparison, 10 percent of Soviet men are party members.31 Within the party hierarchy, women are even more conspicuously absent. One survey of twenty-five regional party organizations found that over a nineteen-year period only 3.2 percent of party bureau workers were women. Most of these women worked as indoctrination specialists, which was described as a “sex-typed profession reserved for women.” This particular occupation offered little promise of promotion and almost no chance of transfer to a higher-profile position.32 At the very highest leveis of the hierarchy, the absence of women is particularly noticeable. In the Politburo, there was until mid-1989 one female member, Aleksandra Biriukova, and she was not a voting member. In 1989, within the 307-member Central Committee, less than 4 percent were women, and this percentage was no higher than it was seventy years earlier.33

Societal and Economic Inequalities Clearly women enjoy neither gender equality nor gender attainment in the Soviet system. Indeed, Lenins description of capitalisms oppression of women aptly describes the Soviet situation. According to Lenin, “capitalism combines formal equality with economic and consequently social inequality.”34 In addition to these structural forms of inequality, women are further oppressed by social mores and customs and economic priorities which have never included their needs.


Perestroika from Below

Peregruzhenost’. © ne of the ma§t obvipus forms of societal oppression of women is the “double burden/’ or peregruzhenost'. T h e term “double burden” refers to the fact that not only do Soviet women work an average of forty-one hours per week, but they also have almost exclusive responsibility for child-rearing and household management. For women, peregruzhenost’ means that in addition to their full-time employment, they must spend an average of forty hours per week on domestic chores.35 As Soviet sociologist Tatiana Boldyreva explained it, “ . . . women are caught between two fires: production and the family. They are not often burned, though they are scorched.”36 This “scorching” of women is made even more unbearable by the lack of consumer goods and Services in the Soviet Union. Daily goods, such as food and clothing, are often difficult to fínd, and usually require waiting in long queues. More durable consumer items, such as vacuum cleaners or clothing dryers, are not available, not to mention such time-saving devices as microwaves or dishwashers.37 Birth Control. As a result of their excessive workload, many Soviet women are choosing not to have children. Unfortunately, only 18 percent of the population has access to birth control, and what is available is of extremely low reliability and quality. Condoms, often difficult to come by, break at an astounding rate of one out of two times.38 Diaphragms, which are even more difficult to obtain, come in only three sizes.39 T h e result is that women must often make the difficult choice of an abortion in an effort to avoid an even further peregruzhenost’ in their lives. Officially, women have one to two abortions for every birth, but United Nations data reveal that when illegal abortions are taken into account, this number rises to eight abortions for every birth.40 T h e choice of abortion is always a difficult one, but this choice is made even more difficult by the often insufficient medicai Services in the Soviet Union and the inhumane treatment many women experience in abortion clinics. There are no attempts at relieving womens psychological stress with counseling about the operation. Even more startling is the fact that there is often no attempt to relieve the physical pain during the abortion.41

Responses to the Womans Question No one denies that the structural, societal, and economic reality of womens lives in the Soviet Union is problematic, as evidenced by the new-found popularity of the “womans question” in the Soviet press.42 T h e responses to this question cover a wide spectrum of philosophical outlooks, some of which fulfíll the criteria of feminism, fostering gender equality and attainment, and some of which will work against womens interests if adopted into policy. In order to understand which responses are likely to become, or have already become, Soviet policy on women, it will be helpful to consider some of the various responses, and whether or not they fulfill the above criteria.

Perestroika for Women


Attempts to improve the lives of Soviet women fali into two basic categories: those which advocate relieving women of primary responsibility for the home and children so that they may achieve equality with men in non-domestic spheres, and those that consider the domestic sphere primarily womens responsibility, and hence, seek to make fulfillment of that responsibility easier.

“Women Are More Than Mothers” Those who consider that women ought not to be limited by their gender to primarily the domestic sphere are basically advocating choice for women. That is, they believe that women themselves ought to be able to decide how they wish to organize their lives on a basis of equality with men. However, there are many different arguments about how best to ensure real choice for women. Some are advocating Solutions which are primarily economic. For instance, Nina Kungurova looks to the newly formed Z hensovety (Womens Councils), which will be able to fund womens enterprises, both state and cooperative, as the solution. In this way, women themselves would be able to organize their labor in ways which they feel are appropriate. Kungurova further suggests that cooperatives which provide goods or Services for women and the family could be induced to produce more by reducing taxes.45 Others argue that the best way to help women is to induce men to take responsibility for their half of the child-rearing and domestic chores. A good example of such an approach is the call by N. Zakharova, A. Posadskaia, and N. Rimashevskaia to rewrite Article 35 o f the Constitution (i.e. equality for women) to include men. In this way, men would have the option of receiving parental benefits, and could therefore take primary responsibility for child-rearing. These experts on social and economic problems in the Soviet Union see such legal incentives as the first step in transforming womans “double burden” to an “equal burden” with men.44 Still others argue that such approaches are overly simplistic and do not consider the complicated reasons for the oppression of women in Soviet society. There is particular criticism of economic Solutions which emphasize cooperatives. Boldyreva, for example, claims such Solutions overlook the fact that these self-financing enterprises are unlikely to take into account the special needs of women. Boldyreva argues that these cooperatives will even avoid hiring women, particularly women with children, because of the special needs of women due to the “double burden.”45 Boldyreva instead suggests a multi-layered approach which would not only increase Services and technology in the domestic sphere but also would increase womens salaries to a levei equal with mens. She further suggests that women must be allowed to decide whether they want to stay home, go to work, or occupy both roles. In any event, Boldyreva demands that any choice a woman makes be facilitated.46


Perestroika from Below

Like Boldyreva, O/*Voronina advocates a complex solution for women. According to Voronina, the majofl impediments to women are the “double burden,” a work world that doesnt take the particular needs of women as mothers into account, and the current cultural “ nihilism” which advocates sending women home.47 Voronina sees a more equal sharing of the burden as merely a palliative.48 Instead, she advocates increasing womens salaries so that the benefits of hazardous work would not be so great, forcing industry to take women into consideration when manufacturing the tools of labor and when creating policies for working mothers, attempts to decrease occupational segregation, and policies which will decrease womens domestic chores, such as increasing the quality and quantity of daycare Services.49 In other words, Voronina also wants policies which engender choices for women.50 Although there are clearly differences between these Solutions, they are all based on fundamental feminist assumptions. That is, all these advocates of womens rights are attempting to assure that womens lives not be limited by their gender. Furthermore, all of these outlooks see the fulfillment of gender equality and gender attainment as necessary preconditions for real choice for women. Yet none of these policies are being advocated by the Soviet government. Inherent in this official response is sexual discrimination that will only serve to exacerbate existing inequalities. In order to examine the sexism inherent in Soviet policy, it will be necessary to examine the specific measures which are being taken. “Women G o Home” T h e Soviet government views the main obstacle to true equality as the “double shift” .51 In response to the “double shift,” the Soviet government has proposed several measures, including additional leave for working women with two or more children (under twelve years of age); partially paid leave for mothers with children under one year, with an additional six months unpaid leave possible; matemity allowances for the first three children, an increase in benefits for payment of daycare, and more aid for single mothers. Directives also have been set for improving the material conditions of families.52 In addition, the government has barred women from occupations that it considers detrimental to the fulfillment of womens responsibilities in the domestic sphere. Hence, Article 68 of the “ Fun­ damentais of Labor Legislation of the U SSR and Union Republics” bars women from “ . . . arduous jobs, jobs with unhealthy working conditions and underground jobs.”53 Although there is no doubt that these measures will be welcomed by many Soviet women, there is a major flaw in the policies’ underlying assumptions. All these measures attempt to solve the problem of the “double shift” either by reducing the amount of hours women work outside the home or by making domestic chores less taxing (i.e. by improving various amenities). T h e Soviet government doesn t even begin to address the fact that Soviet women have been given an unequal burden by virtue of their sex.

Perestroika for Women


T h e governments failure to relieve women of the responsibility for the home and the children stems from the assumption that gender roles are determined mainly by biological characteristics.54 This assumption of “biologism" is seen throughout Soviet writings. Mikhail Gorbachev, himself, has described womens “inherent functions" as “those of mother, wife, the person who brings up the children/'55 T h e assumption that biological factors determine a persons function only serves to perpetuate the real inequalities which exist between men and women in Soviet society. T h e fact that Soviet women do not have real power because of their preponderance at the lower end of the political and occupational hierarchies can be explained as unavoidable due to the “ nature" of women. Since women are seen as being primarily concerned with cleaning and changing diapers, the Soviet government cannot be held responsible if women do not care about such things as upward mobility. Indeed, the Soviet government can only be responsible for making the fulfillment of their biological functions as easy as possible. A distqrbing phenomenon among some Western students of the Soviet Union is to support the Soviet governments analysis of the “womans question.” Foremost among these students is Francine D u Plessix Gray. Like the Soviet government, Gray sees many problems for women stemming from their own aggressiveness, and from the matriarchal patterns o f family relations. According to D u Plessix Gray, “after' dozens of evenings spent with distraught, henpecked men and with a dismaying abundance of superwomen, . . . [she] reached the conclusion that the Soviet Union might be as much in need of a mens movement as of a womens movement.”56 To point out the blatant sexism in these assumptions would be redundant. Blaming the women is absurd. Women have unequal access to economic, political, and social power in the Soviet Union. This lack of access means that they have very little real choice. To hold them responsible for their problems, without addressing the structural reasons for these problems, is to commit a grave disservice to Soviet women. Furthermore, Soviet women will experience neither gender attainment nor gender equality if the government is allowed to predetermine their roles in life on the basis of their sex. This sort of “biologism" will only be detrimental to women.

Reasons for Official Policy toward Women Unfortunately, there are strong cultural, political, and economic reasons for this official policy toward women. Culturally, the Soviet Union is heavily influenced by Russians, who constitute one half of the population. T h e Russian tradition contains an extremely patriarchal religion (Orthodox Christianity), which fosters notions not only of womens impurity but also of their inferiority to men.57 Such attitudes are manifest in popular Russian culture. For instance, a folk wisdom says that “a chicken is not a bird, a woman is not a person."58 Obviously such


Perestroika from Below

a conservative cultural context wiU make policies stressing traditional roles for women more palatable> Poíitically, the Soviet Union is controlled by men. That is, women have been excluded from political power in the Soviet Union. One Soviet scholar, Elvira Novikova, has described such a govemment as a “ maleocracy.” As Novikova points out, this elite group of men does not consider the needs and interests of women.59 Indeed, in the Soviet Union, the needs of women have always been subverted to the needs of the State. Hence, when the State had a shortage of labor in the 1950s because of Stalins purges and World War II, it encouraged women to enter the work force.60 Now the state sees its interests in emphasizing motherhood, not work, as the primary societal function of women. T h e Soviet Union is in the midst of great demographic changes. Although the Slavic population is still a majority, it is experiencing a low birthrate in comparison with that in the Moslem areas. It seems the state sees the need to rectify this demographic imbalance by increasing the birthrate, at least in European areas.61 This desire to increase the birthrate further spurs the states blatantly sexist policy of “biologism.” T h e Soviet Union is also experiencing an economic crisis. As a result, there is a renewed emphasis on efficiency and productivity, which will displace 20 percent of the workers in industry.62 Considering that womens “double burden” already allows them less energy than men and creates special considerations in the workplace, these “displaced” workers will probably be women. This facet of the economic crisis could easily be resolved by encouraging these women to leave the job market.

On the Other Side Rule o f Law and Civil Society T h e cohesion of these cultural, political, and economic forces has meant that the official Soviet policy toward women has not taken the interests of women into account. Yet there are a few glimmers of hope in an otherwise dismal picture of the future of women in the Soviet Union. T h e fact is that 92 percent of Soviet women either work or study, and they account for over half of all Soviet employees.65 Furthermore, womens eamings often account for the large part of a familys income.64 Studies of Soviet women workers indicate that those who are oriented equally toward work and family or predominantly toward work are often better adjusted than women oriented primarily toward the family.65 These material and psychological factors also indicate that forcing Soviet women to de-emphasize their occupational roles will be extremely difficult. Still another source of hope for Soviet women lies in the field of international law. T h e Soviet Union recently agreed to accept the World C ourts authority in disputes over fulfillment of international obligations. As stated previously, the Soviet

Perestroika for Women


Union is a signatory nation to the C ED A W treaty. In this sense, it is now bound by intemational law to fulfill the mandate of this treaty. This obligation argues against the pursuit of the current policies of “biologism."66 This change in intemational law is occurring within a more general context of restructuring of Soviet legal institutions. This legal perestroika appears to be an attempt to apply Western notions of “ rule of law" to Soviet society.67 That is, in the West, there is a strong belief that a just govemment is one in which everyone, including leaders, is equal before the law. As John Adams said over two centuries ago, “ours is a govemment of laws, not of men (sic)."68 If the Soviet Union actually does accept Western notions of “ rule of law," rather than Lenins notion that “law . . . is politics,"69 then there are already several laws in existence which could afford women a better position in Soviet society. However, the ultimate hope for Soviet women lies with Soviet women themselves. Although an attempt at beginning a feminist movement in the Soviet Union in 1979 was temporarily thwarted by the K G B ,70 the current era has allowed this attempt to continue. Concem for womens rights is evident in several of the new democratic movements in the Soviet Union. In Leningrad and Moscow, Olga Lipovskaia and Nonna Odintsova work together to produce a feminist joumal known as Zhenskoe chtenie (Womens Reading).71 Lipovskaia is currently attempting to organize a feminist publishing house and has already completed the translation of several Western feminist texts.72 Olga Bessolova, who is the Assistant Director of the Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute (i.e. the Soviet Unions equivalent of NASA), has founded a Club of Womens Initiatives, which attempted to bring women into the political process during the 1990 March elections.73 T h e Radical Association for Peace and Freedom, which now exists in several Soviet cities, propagates feminist outlooks in its party platform, as evidenced in its joumal Golodovka (Hunger Strike).74 There is even a newly formed gay and lesbian rights group, the Association of the Sexual Minority, which is attempting to ensure the rights of women-oriented women.75 In other words, an embryonic civil society is emerging which will allow previously disenfranchised groups, such as women, to attempt to affect the policies of the Soviet govemment.76 If these movements are allowed to continue, it is clear that Soviet women will become increasingly sophisticated in voicing their demands to the Soviet State.

But Will It Help? Although these trends and movements provide hope for Soviet women, it cannot be concluded that the acceptance of “ rule of law" and/or the formation of a civil society will necessarily help womens lives. T h e experience of women in the United States serves as evidence of the unreliability of such an assumption. In the past ten years in the U.S., despite a long tradition of the supremacy of law and the existence of numerous organizations and individuais working for


Perestroika from Below

the rights of women^t.he position^pf women has become increasingly tenuous. Economically, women and children bear almost three-quarters of the nations poverty, and it s only getting worse. During the Reagan administration, four million more women slipped below the poverty levei.77 Women still earn only 64C for each dollar men earn, and are confined to “pink ghettos.”78 Legally, women in the U.S. are experiencing attacks on their right to abortion, their right to choose an alternative lifestyle, and their right to affirmative action.79 T h e only conclusion that can be drawn from the struggle of women in the U.S. is that neither “ rule of law” nor a fully developed civil society will guarantee the protection of women s rights. O ne of the most obvious reasons for th is is that women in this country still do not have enough economic, political, and social power (i.e. neither gender equality nor attainment) to effect real change in their lives. More generally, the concept of “ rule of law” is particularly deceptive to those who struggle for human rights, since law is often mistakenly viewed as some objective truth handed to us by divine power. Yet as John Stuart Mill pointed out, “ . . . all laws owe their origin and their whole existence to human will. Men (sic) do not wake up on a summer morning and find them sprung up. . . . In every stage of their existence, they are made what they are by human voluntary agency.”80 As Catharine MacKinnon explains it, it is this very pretense of objectivity that allows male-dominated governments to legitimize their dominance over women. “ In the liberal state, the rule of law— neutral, abstract, elevated, pervasive— both institutionalizes the power of men over women and institutionalizes power in its male form.”81 Civil society doesn’t allow women any more access to power in societies than “rule of law” does. Indeed, civil societies, even the most developed, often provide only a form of organized protest to power. In this way, elites manage to legitimize their own power by legitimizing the opposition. Neither development will necessarily provide women with access to male-dominated power structures. Governments controlled by men will probably foster neither gender equality nor gender attainment. If Soviet women are really going to succeed in ensuring their rights, it will be because they have learned the lessons of women in the West, as well as the lessons of their own past.

Notes 1. Pravda (July 23, 1989). 2. For example, see article 1 of the U .N /s “ Universal Declaration of Human Rights/' as cited in Louis Henkin, Richard Crawford Pugh, Oscar Schachter and Hans Smit,

International Law: Cases and Materials (St. Paul, M N : West Publishing Company, 1987), 99.

Perestroika for Women


3. One good definition of sexism is provided by Audre Lorde in

Sister Outsider

(Trumansburg, N Y: The Crossing Press, 1984), 115. According to Lorde, sexism is “ . . . the belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over the other and thereby the right to dominance. . . 4. Norma C . Noonan, “ Marxism and feminism in the USSR: irreconcilable differences?”

Women and Politics, 8:1 (1988), 32. 5. David B. Sugarman and Murray A. Strauss, “ Indicators of gender equaiity for

Social Indicators Research, 20 (1988), 2 3 0 -2 3 1 . Discrimination Against Women: A Global Survey of the Economic Educational Social and Political Status of Women (Jefferson, N C and London: American states and regions,” 6. Eschel M. Rhoodie,



McFarland and Company, 1989), 304. 7. Gail Warshofsky Lapidus, Califórnia Press, 1978), 11. 8. USSRs 1987), 20.

Women in Soviet Society (Berkeiey, CA : University of

Second Periodic Report to CEDAW , (CED A W /C /13/A dd. 4, April 30,

9. Alan P. Polard,

USSR Facts and Figures Annual (Academic International Press),

12 (1988) 100. 10. N. Rimashevskaia, “ Current problems of the status of women,”


trud.l (1987), 61. 11. Ibid., 63. 12. Dorothy Atkinson, Alexander Dallin, and Gail Warshofsky Lapidus, Women in Rússia (Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 1977), 2 9 6 -2 9 7 . 13. Maggie McAndrew and Jo Peers, The New Soviet Woman: Model or Myth (London: Change International, 1981), 13 -1 4 . 14. Rhoodie,

Discrimination Against Women, 3 0 8 -3 1 0 .

15. Ibid. 16. O.A. Voronina, “Zhenshchina v muzhskom obshchestve,”

Sotsiologicheskie issle-

dovaniia, 1988:2, 1 0 5 -1 0 6 . 17. Ibid., 105.

Women in Rússia, 205. Discrimination Against Women, 310.

18. Atkinson, Dallin and Lapidus, 19. Rhoodie,

20. Voronina, “Zhenshchina v muzhskom obshchestve,” 105. 21.

Tatiana Boldyreva, “ You won’t stop the revolutionary horse in his tracks,”

Sociology, 2 8 :5 , (Sept/Oct 1989), 105. 22. Atkinson, Dallin, and Lapidus,

Women in Rússia, 205.

Rabochii klass i sovremennyi mir, 1985:2, 94. 24. Barbara Holland (ed.), Soviet Sisterhood (London: Fourth Estate, 1985), 183. 25. Lapidus, Women in Soviet Society, 176. . 23. E .B . Guzdeva. “ Osobennosti obraza zhizni intelligentnykh rabochikh.”

26. Rimashevskaia, “ Current problems of the status of women,” 65. 27. E .B . Guzdeva and E .S . Chertikhina, “ Professionarnyi status zhenshchin v SSSR”

Rabochii klass i sovremennyi mir, 1986:3, 79. 28. Voronina, “ Zhenshchina v muzhskom obshchestve,” 107. 29. McAndrew and Peers, 30. Ibid., 14. 31. Ibid., 15.

The New Soviet Woman, 15.


Perestroika from Below


32. Ibid.



Discrimination Against Women, 305. 34. Lenin on the Emancipation of Women (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1974), 82. 35. Holland, Soviet Sisterhood, 1 2 4 -2 5 . 33. Rhoodie,

36. Boldyreva, “You worTt stop . . . ,” 110. 37. Based on statistics gathered by author (Essig) in Leningrad, Kiev, Moscow, Irkutsk and Riga from October through December, 1989. 38. Francine Du Plessix Gray, “ Soviet W om en,”

The New Yorker (February 1990),

65. 39. Dmitri N. Shalin, “ Glasnost and Sex,”

New York Times (January 24, 1990), A 23.

40. Du Plessix Gray, “ Soviet W om en,” 67. 41. For example, see Ibid., 67. Although the horror of a Soviet abortion is difficult to describe within this context, it will be helpful to consider a journal entry made by one of the authors during a recent stay in Moscow. “ Finally my friend, N, is resting. This morning we went out of the city at 6 :3 0 to an abortion clinic on the outskirts of the city. Moscow has never seemed so cold and alienating to me. My poor N. She was raped a little over a month ago, by a ‘friend of the family s/ O f course, with no counseling Services, no womens spaces, a legal system that blames the woman, and a Russian Orthodox family that made her feel like it was her fault for ‘seducing’ a married man, N had nowhere to turn but to a foreigner. How awful it all was for her, and now she has had to go through an abortion to purge her body of the physical evidence of this violation. I have never seen anything so frightening in my life as the abortion clinic. No counseling— hell, no compassion. As the twenty women, some as young as fifteen, lined up for their group torture, I saw nothing anywhere that could possibly comfort them. An eternity later they began to stumble out of the operating room. Their nightgowns, brought from home, were bloodied. As I looked around, I realized that no one was waiting for any of these women, no one to help them home, or merely give them some reassurance. Even the fifteen-year-old made her way back to the city alone, pushing her way through the rush-hour crowds on the train. N told me later that during the operation the anesthesia hadn't worked. W hen she cried out in pain, they told her to shut up. She was a slut and was only getting what she deserved. After all, N isn’t married. If shes pregnant, she must be a slut. . . .” Entry dated December 11, 1989, from a journal kept by Laurie Essig while living in Moscow.

Soviet Sisterhood, 40 . Rabotnitsa, 1989:2.

42. Holland, 43.

4 4 . N. Zakharova, A. Posadskaia, and N. Rimashevskaia, “ How we resolve the womans question,”

Kommunist, 1989:4.

45. Boldyreva, “ You won’t stop . . . ,” 116. 46. Ibid., 113. 47. Voronina, “ Zhenshchina v muzhskom obshchestve,” 1 0 5 -1 0 6 , 10 8 -1 0 9 . 48. Ibid., 107. 49. Ibid., 105, 107. 50. Ibid., 110. 51. For example, see “ Second Periodic Report to C ED A W ,” 5. 52. Ibid.

The New Soviet Woman, 12. Soviet Sisterhood, 231.

53. McAndrew and Peers, 54. Holland,

Perestroika for Women 55. Rhoodie,


Discrimination Against Women, 313.

56. Du Plessix Gray, “ Soviet W om en," 7 4 -7 5 . 57. Richard Stites, The Women s Liberation Princeton University Press, 1978), 11 -1 2 .

Movement in Rússia (Princeton, Nj:

58. íbid., 3.

Moskovskie novosti, 1989:5. Discrimination Against Women, 305. 61. Holland, Soviet Sisterhood, 1 7 8 -1 8 3 . 59.

60. Rhoodie,

62. Boldyreva, “ You w ont stop . . . ," 108. 63. Voronina, “ Zhenshchina v rnuzhskom obshchestve," 104. 64. E .E . Novikova, O .L . Milova, and E . V. Zaliubovskaia, “ Modern woman at work and at home,"

Soviet Sociology 28:5 (1989), 90.

65. íbid., 97. 66. Rhoodie,

Discrimination Against Women, 319.

67. For example, see Mikhail Gorbachevs speech entitled “The Speech of the President of the USSR M .S. Gorbachev at a Special Session of the Third Congress of Peoples

Pravda, (March 16, 1990). Law, Justice, and the Common Good (Landen, M D : University

Deputies of the U SSR ," (in Russian) in 68. Sidney Hyman (ed.),

Press of America, 1988), xxxvii. 69. John Hazard,

The Soviet Legal System (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publishers,

1969), 5. 70. Tatiana Mamonova (ed.),

Women and Rússia (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1984),

ix. 71. Interviews with Olga Lipovskaia and Nonna Odintsova in December 1989, conducted by Laurie Essig and Amy Randall. 72. Interview with Olga Lipovskaia by Laurie Essig in June 1990. 73. Interview with Olga Besselova by Laurie Essig in May 1990. 74. For a listing of the Radical Associations principies, see

Golodovka, 1 (October

1989), 3. 75. The first issue of the Association for the Sexual Minoritys newspaper,


appeared in February 1990. 76.

Civil Society in the USSR (Helsinki Watch Report, 1990), 2. lesser life: the myth of womens liberation in America (New

77. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, A

York: William Morrow and Company, 1986), 14, 381. 78. íbid., 71, 75. 79. Al Kamen, “ Divisive issues at center stage as court term ends,"

The Washington Post (July 5, 1989), 1. 80. Hyman, Law, Justice, and the Common Good , xxxix. 81. Catharine A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 238.

7 Environmental Politics and Policy under P erestroika Charles E. Ziegler

Under Mikhail Gorbachevs leadership, Soviet politics in the late 1980s was transformed by the activities of thousands of newly-independent social and political organizations. Protection of the natural environment has figured prominently among the diverse causes advocated by these groups. A grass-roots environmental movement, led by members of the cultural intelligentsia and natural scientists, has criticized the Communist Party and governments unvvillingness or inability to deal effectively with diverse ecological problems. These movements have attracted supporters from virtuaíly every naíionality, age group, and socio-economic category. Ecological issues have dominated or strongly colored local and regional politics under glasnost and perestroika . However, the strength and emotionalism of the new Soviet ecological politics has not generally been recognized in Western analyses of Soviet reforms. T h e current emergence of a “green politics'7 in the Soviet Union is an entirely new phenomenon. This spontaneous activism contrasts wíth official indecisiveness in enacting new, more effective environmental policies. Aíthough the situation in the Soviet Union is very much in flux, several patterns can already be detected. First, ecological issues have served as a focal point for voluntary political participation. Concern over the health implications of políuted air, water, and soil and over radiation poisoning has mobilized citizens who in the past have been oíherwise inactive. Second, environmental destruction has been a particularly convincing indictment of the Communist Party s claims to rational economic planning in the interests of the entire Soviet people. T h e “growth at any cost” attitude of Soviet planners impoverished the population, wasted natural resources, and políuted the environment, rather than improving the quality of life. This has been a significant

I am grateful to Dianne 0 ’Regan for her assistance in collecting materiais for this chapter.



Perestroika from Below

factor undermining áupport for the party s right to govern, and has strengthened calls for devolution of real decision-making povvers to the local and regional leveis. Finalíy, and perhaps most importantly, economic development and ecology issues have become íinked to nationalist and separatist demands in the Soviet Union. iYíany of the ethnic minorities are convinced that environmental ills affecting their republics are the result of Moscow s callous development policies. Central authorities are blamed for exploiting their natural resource base in colonial fashion, without regard for the ecological consequences of phosphorite mining, monocultural agriculture, nuciear povver generation, or irrigation. Regional control over natural resources has become a crucial question in the debate over developing a new relationship betvveen Moscow and the union republics. Environmental issues are integral to some of the fundamental issues in a reforming Soviet Union: the emergence of unconstrained political participation, ending the political monopoly of the Communist Party and state apparatus, and realizing a more effective regional distribution of power between the center and periphery.

Participation in Soviet Green Politics Soviet environmental activism during the Brezhnev period differed significantly from the pluralist process evident in American politics. In this “corporatist” system, the Soviet state played the dominant role in recognizing problems, placing issues on the public agenda, and modifying policies. Group activity, particularly among specialists, was an important aspect of Soviet environmental protection, but this participation was generally manipulated and channeled to conform with regime priorities. Individuais who could not claim specialist expertise were limited to largelv pro-forma participation through party and government-controlled mass organizations. As a rule, the production-oriented Soviet bureaucracy frustrated individual and group efforts toward environmental protection.1 Soviet environmental politics has undergone a fundamental transformation from the Brezhnev to the Gorbachev era. Independent ecology groups analogous to Western environmental movements have become active participants in the political process. Encouraged by the more relaxed political climate, and mobilized by environmental tragedies such as the Chernobyr nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the disappearing Arai Sea, hundreds of environmental groups have sprung up throughout the Soviet Union. In addition, social and cultural organizations with broad agendas, such as national fronts, routinely address environmental concerns. A large number of ecology groups have been granted formal recognition as public organizations since 1987, overcoming initial resistance from provincial and republican authorities. Many of these groups have formed along republican lines. In Moldavia, for example, a green movement entitled Miscarea verzilor was founded in November 1988. T h e Moldavian Greens had their origin in a group of ecologically minded Kishinev intellectuals, and have representatives on the steering committees

Environmental Politics and Policy


of the leading Moldavian cultural-political organizations, the Democratic Movement and the Mateevici Club. In the Ukraine, the “ Green World’' (Z elenyi svit), a highly vocal ecology association operating under the aegis of the Ukrainian Peace Committee, was formed in late 1987; its chairman, Iurii Shcherbak, is a physician and deputy of the U SSR Supreme Soviet.2 Estonias Green Movement, one of the oldest, has been especially active in nominating candidates for central political offices. T h e Estonian Greens have emphasized international agreements on protection of the Baltic Sea and also have focused on protection of the G u lf of Parnu and on phosphorite mining in the northern area of the republic. In addition, the national front organizations in the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belorussia, and Azerbaidjan have all incorporated references to environmental protection in their platforms. Other ecology movements are based in cities or are dedicated to specific environmental causes. Epitsentr is a Leningrad umbrella organization incorporating a number of smaller ecology groups. Leningrads ecologists have opposed construction of a large dam across the G u lf of Finland, have advocated preserving the citys historie buildings and cultural monuments, and have fought to clean up Leningrads heavily polluted water supplies.3 Ecological Initiatives, a Dneprodzerzhinsk city organization of young doctors, engineers and students, succeeded in having one of their representatives elected to the Congress of Peoples Deputies. T h e Public Committee to Save the Prut River is a Kishinev city organization seeking to enlist the support of Romanian scientists in its efforts to clean up this heavily polluted boundary river. In the capital, students at Moscow State University have formed two ecology organizations: the Social Science Council on the Interaction of Man and the Biosphere; and the Young Peoples Council for the Protection of Nature. Although there are reportedly 20 all-union ecological societies, the Moscovv-based SocioEcological Union, formed in D ecem ber 1988 and headed by ornithologist Maria Cherkasova, is rapidíy emerging as the national umbrella organization for Soviet environmentalists. This organization seeks to educate the Soviet population on ecology issues, organizes public monitoring and supervision of environmental laws, and sponsors mass protests and meetings. T h e Socio-Ecological Union organized a nationwide day of protest against the Volga-Don and Volga-Chograi canais (construction on both canais was eventually halted), and in May 1990 Cherkasova visited the United States for a series of meetings with U.S. environmentalists.4 Public concern about environmental degradation is very strong in the Soviet Union. According to a survey conducted in 1989, 83.5 percent of the population were either 'Very strongly” or “ rather strongly disturbed” by the state of the environment where they lived.5 This high levei of anxiety helps to explain the burgeoning ecology movement in the Soviet Union. Moreover, while economic reform and ethnic discontent are the two issues that have dominated Soviet domestic politics in the Gorbachev period, environmental questions are closely linked to


Perestroika from Below

both questions. W hy have ecologjcal issues generated such extraordinary interest and activism among the Soviet population? Foremost vvould appear to be public concern over the health effects of environmental pollution. Pollution threatens not only the well-being of the individual; it raises the prospect of genetic mutation of ones immediate offspring and calls into question the long-term viability of society or of a particular ethnic group. Soviet news reporting under glasnost has described in lurid detail the health effects of radiation poisoning, chemical smog, water pollution, and overuse of pesticides and herbicides in agriculture. Nationalist Armenian writers have gone so far as to publicly charge the central authorities with implementing “ecological genocide” against the Armenian people.6 By rejecting excessive secrecy for a more open approach to societal problems, Gorbachev has if anything exacerbated peoples fears about the possible consequences of pollution. As the population has gradually become aware of the extent to which environmental problems previously were callously disregarded or covered up by authorities. suspicion has arisen that the truth still has not been told and that central ministries continue routinely to suppress information. In this connection, the impact of Chernobyl’ on popular opinion should not be underestimated. W hile the 1986 tragedy apparently played a major role in expanding the limits of glasnost, mistrust of central authorities remains deeply ingrained. In one recent example, Magyar and Ruthenian residents of the Transcarpathian region mounted a widespread protest movement in early 1990 against construction of a huge radar station. Military authorities had originally claimed the facility was a pasta factory. An indignant populace rejected assurances that the station would not be nuclear powered, and local authorities adopted a resolution opposing further work on the radar station. Complaints were forwarded to Moscow from both repubüc and local government offices. In February, Defense Minister Dmitrii Iazov ordered the project halted. A scientific commission, he promised, would review the project and make a recommendation on whether to continue work on the facility.7 Environmental degradation has stimulated political participation because it emphasizes the lack of control individuais have over their lives in the Soviet system. As democratization has progressed under Gorbachevs leadership, Soviet citizens have begun to realize previously unavailable opportunities to limit or reverse government decisions that adversely affect their lives. Fear of toxic poisons and hazardous substances in the air, water, and food has generated a N IM B Y (“ Not in My Back Yard”) syndrome comparable to that in the United States. This growing political opposition is bound to complicate reform plans for industrial modernization, foreign investment projects, and privatization, and could hamstring

perestroika. Perhaps more importantly, popular opposition to environmentally harmful central economic policies is assuming a nationalist character.

Environmental Politics and Policy


Nationalism and Environmental Pollution In the Soviet Union, nationalism and environmental issues interact at several leveis; the territorial, the biological, and the psychological. Considering the legacy of central planning and Russian domination, environmental degradation of nationally-based territories has acquired colonial, exploitative connotations. In certain regions, the ecological situation has become so serious that minorities believe the resultant damage to health threatens the biological viability of their nationa! groups. Economic development in most republics has been accompanied by an influx of Russian workers, who not only comrnand many of the better urban jobs and dilute the political strength of ethnic minorities, but also symboíize Moscows penetration of the republics. Environmental pollution and other negative effects of modernization come to be viewed as examples of central (that is, Russian) domination and unresponsiveness to minority concerns. A geographical “homeland,” an administrative territory providing a focus for an ethnic groups shared past and its future goals, is vitally important to maintaining and preserving a national identity.8 Curiously, Soviet federalism had the opposite effect of that intended by its Bolshevik designers. Instead of allowing national aspirations to flourish and then wither away, the formal territorial divisions maintained or enhanced perceptions of national distinctiveness at the same time that centralized Communist Party dominance frustrated aspirations to genuine self-governance by indigenous groups. Under these conditions, the location and operation of polluting industries by central authorities carne to be viewed as a form of colonialism. Developmental policies that might have been tolerated had they been fully under the control of national elites were perceived as threats to the homeland, imposed. without the approval or legitimate participation of the affected minority. T h e specific environmental issues stimulating nationally based protests vary according to region. W hile space does not permit discussion of all these issues, it is worth noting several patterns. First, environmental problems associated with agriculture have proved to be particularly sensitive. Local ofhcials, constrained by the extraordinarily ineíbcient system of collectivized agriculture yet prodded by Moscow to continually increase production, compensated through massive applications of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and by continually expanding the proportion of land under irrigation. In many cases, the land was exploited to the point of exhaustion. A second and related problem around which nationalist sentiment has mobilized is water pollution. Wasteful irrigation practices and inefficient methods of industrial production have depleted supplies of fresh water and have polluted lakes, rivers and underground aquifers. Water pollution poses severe health hazards to local populations. In addition, decisions made in Moscow have radicalíy altered or endangered bodies of water that have both economic value and symbolic significance for certain nationalities, including the Volga, D on, and Dniepr rivers, Lake Baikal


Perestroika from Below

and Lake Ladoga, and the Arai Sça. This leads into the third general theme of this section; namely, the tensions between central authorities and local populations over industrial development, siting and pollution issues. Finally, environmental issues often served as the initial rallying point for broader political activity. Encouraged by their successes in mobilizing the population for specific environ­ mental goals, Soviet activists rapidly advanced more inclusive agendas. In Central Asia, the most prominent environmental disaster is the disappearing Arai Sea, whose feeder rivers, the Amu-Daria and Syr-Daria, practically dried up as water was diverted to irrigate cotton fields.9 In thirty years, from 1960 to 1990, the Arai Sea lost more than 4 0 percent of its surface area. As the shoreline retreats, up to 75 million tons of wind-blown salts annually are swept onto the surrounding communities, causing marked increases in throat câncer, respiratory and eve diseases, dysentery, and hepatitis. Drinking water has been contaminated over a vast area around the sea. Infant mortality there is the highest in the Soviet Union, comparing unfavorably with that in many developing countries. According to a doctor associated with the Uzbek Committee to Save the Arai, 90 percent of children born in the Karakalpak autonomous republic (bordering on the Southwest corner of the sea) suffer from anemia, compared with 2 5 .4 percent for the Uzbek republic and 8.4 percent for the entire Soviet Union.10 Pressure from Moscow to produce more cotton, the regions major earner of hard currency, has been largely responsible for the disastrous environmental record in the Arai basin. Corrective measures taken in the post-Brezhnev period have not proved effective. Despite party and government resolutions mandating an end to the use of D D T and Butifos (a defoliant) on cotton fields, use of these highly toxic Chemicals continues; both are regularly found in mothers’ milk. According to a spokeswoman for the unofficial Uzbek political group Birlik (the full title is “ Unity Movement for the Preservation of Uzbekistans Natural, Material, and Spiritual Biches”), an average 54 kilograms of Chemicals are used on each hectare of Uzbek land every year.11 In general, unofficial groups have not played as prominent a role in Central Asian politics as they have in other regions of the Soviet Union. Birlik, established as a small working group of Uzbek intellectuals in November 1988, is among the better-organized Central Asian initiative groups. This group has called for an end to cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and has pressed to have Uzbek designated the official state language of the republic. Uzbek authorities have for the most part approved of environmental groups' efForts to save the Arai Sea, but have criticized Birlik for reputedly exacerbating inter-ethnic tensions, specifically against the Meskhetian Turks, and have refused to grant the organization official recognition.12 Responding to public pressures to diversify Central Asian agriculture, the central Communist Party Politburo in September 1988 adopted guidelines directing regional authorities to reduce the area devoted to cotton to a maximum of 70 percent, and to take measures to conserve water. Given the country s precarious economic

Environmental Politics and Poíicy


position, however, the center cannot supply the funds needed to remedy the situation (an estimated 50 billion rubíes would be needed), nor is the capital investment available to diversify agriculture in the affected republics of Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan and Kazakhstan.15 Regional executives and officials with the Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Resources continue to urge that work on the Siberian water diversion projects be resumed as a solution to the shrinking sea, a position opposed by local ecologists and Russian nationalists. In the Caucasus, the capital cities of both Armênia and Azerbaidjan are heavily polluted by chemical industries. Erevans population grew from 4 0 0 ,0 0 0 in 1947 to 1.2 million in the late 1980s, and the expansion of chemical plants within citv limits has resulted in higher leveis of birth defects and infant mortality rates and in increased sterility. Public discontent over the pollution of Lake Sevan from agricultural runoff, a nuclear power plant at Medzamor, and hydroelectric power stations in the republic led to mass demonstrations in late 1987.14 Ecological protests preceded by one day, and appeared to pave the way for, mass demonstrations demanding Armenian control over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Environmental problems are also severe in the republic of Azerbaidjan. T he First Secretary of the Azerbaidjan Writers' Union has claimed that air pollution in Baku is twelve times as bad as in any other Soviet city (Erevan included), and former Soviet health minister Evgenii Chazov confirmed that pollution rates far above the riorm have raised morbidity leveis in the republic.15 T h e Caspian Sea is heavily polluted by untreated sewage from Baku and by oil and sediment discharged into the sea by petroleum industries in the capital and Sumgait. Agriculture in the republic is subject to over-chemicalization: according to the Minister of Health for Azerbaidjan, an average of forty kilos of pesticides are used on each hectare o f cotton and vegetable land; and an average of 183 kilos are applied in the grape-producing regions. Other researchers found anemia rates in children below the age of fourteen two and one-half times the average rate for the Soviet Union, while forty-two percent of women between the ages of twenty and thirty-four are reportedly sterile.16 Nationalist forces in the republic have focused many of their demands around environmental issues. In early 1989 the Azerbaidjan Popular Front disseminated a draft program stressing the importance of addressing the ecological crisis and demanding that the republic be given full control over its natural resources. The program condemned Moscow for its “barbaric exploitation” of Azerbaidjans natural resources, and blamed the central leadership for the ecological disaster facing the republic.17 In Moldavia, the republic partv Secretary under Brezhnev, Ivan Bodiul, earned a reputation for indiscriminately blanketing this rich agricultural region with pesticides and herbicides. While the Soviet average for application of pesticides is 0.5 to 1.0 kilograms per hectare, roughly comparable to developed Western countries, the average in Moldavia and Central Asia is 20 .6 kilograms or higher.18 T h e land has become impoverished, wildlife has been decimated, and drinking


Perestroika from Below

water is in short supply. C arelessly ^stored Chemicals have con tam in ated lakes and rivers. E v ery year tens o f thousands o f agricultural workers handling pesticides fali ill, and M oldavian children have b een found to suffer from lowered intelligence leveis.19

Semen Grossu, an agronomist appointed to succeed Bodiul in 1980, continued these damaging agricultural policies. T h e Moldavian government and party under Grossu s direction vigorously sought to contain the nascent Moldavian Greens and the larger Democratic Movement. T h e Moldavian Green movement, established in November 1988 by a group of Kishinev intellectuals— professors, film-makers and journalists comprise the movements steering committee— has targeted its efforts toward environmental problems in agriculture, nuclear power, and pollution of the Prut river. In February 1989 the G reens’ efforts to hold an inaugural conference were supported by the Moldavian Writers’, Journalists’ and Cinematographers’ unions, but were opposed by local officials. Representatives from the party Central Committee Secretariai and the Kishinev city soviet informed the 20 0 assembled delegates that their meeting was illegal, indicating that changes in the steering committee and formal association with the republics nature preservation society would be needed to obtain ofEcial recognition.20 Rallies and demonstrations by unofhcial Moldavian groups continued throughout 1989 and, combined with their successes in elections to the Congress of Peoples Deputies, underscored popular dissatisfaction over ecology, the language question, privileges, consumer goods shortages, and the republics conservative leadership. Mass protests on the November 7 anniversary of the Revolution led to Grossus replacement as First Secretary by Petru Lucinschi, who entered office promising his readiness to conduct a serious dialogue with Moldavias unofhcial movements. In the Baltic States, where separatist sentiment is particularly strong, environ­ mental issues have served as a rallying point for nationalism. T h e Estonians have the longest list of environmental complaints: degradation from phosphorite and oil shale mining, groundwater pollution from agricultural runoff, a rumored nuclear waste dump at Paldiski, pollution of the G u lf of Pamu and G u lf of Finland, and fouled beaches on the Baltic Sea. Children from the town of Sillamae on the Baltic coast were affected by hair losses in early 1989, apparently the result of radium emissions from oil shale mining. Controversy over oil shale and phosphorite mining was instrumental in the formation of the Estonian Peoples Front and the Soviet Unions first Green movement. Immediately after its founding in early 1988, the Estonian Greens branched off into various regional and local organizations. T h e Tallinn movement, one of the largest of these, has been active in assessing the environment of the capital, distributing information, developing proposals for environmental protection, and organizing mass protests against phosphorite and pulp firms in the republic. Tallinns Greens also participated in setting up the administrative structure for the Kadriorg Park.21

Environmental Poliiics and Policy


T h e Estonian Greens have effectively utilized the press and television to advance ecological demands on Moscow. Estonias Green movement stresses International cooperation to protect and restore the Baltic Sea. T h e Soviet government is urged to fulfill its obligations under International accords such as the Convention on Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, signed by the Baltic nations in 1974.22 Environmental protection has become such a popular issue in Estônia that even the Communist Youth Leagues new program incorporates a strongly worded clause demanding immediate measures to halt pollution in the republic.23 Pollution of the Baltic is also an issue for Latvians. T h e city of Riga, with a population of 1.2 million, lacks modem waste purification facilities— thousands of tons of waste annually are dumped into the G u lf of Riga. Offshore oil drilling by the Ministry of Petroleum in the gulf threatens the Baltic coastline and fishing stocks. Effluent from the giant Sloka pulp and paper mill at Jurmala has seriously polluted this popular resort area, forcing authorities to close beaches throughout the summer of 1988. A public campaign by Latvias green movements and the Peoples Front blamed Moscow for exercising “departmental diktat” (i.e., administrative fiat) over the republic, although some critics argued local initiative was responsible for expanding production. After two years of demonstrations, picketing, and criticai -reports on television and in the newspapers, the republic Supreme Soviet ordered the pulp works to close on January 1, 1990. As a result, acute shortages of certain products— Computer paper, paper for magazine and book covers, newsprint, and ice cream wrappers— have reportedly affected the entire Soviet Union.24 T h e Latvian ecology movement originated in a 1 9 8 6 -8 7 debate involving writers, geographers, engineers, hydrologists and other scientists over the merits of a large hydroelectric station being constructed on the Daugava River. Critics of the plan noted that thousands of hectares of forest and arable land would be flooded, numerous cultural and historical monuments lost, and rare species of flora endangered in pursuit of a cost-ineffective energy project. A recurrent theme in both published articles and letters received from the public was Latvian (and also Russian) dissatisfaction with M oscows imperial style of decision-making. Ultimately, the protest movement succeeded. T h e project was reported cancelled in July 1987.25 Resentment against the central government has also been provoked by envi­ ronmental effects of military operations in the republic. T h e Latvian Supreme Soviet in August 1989 formed a working group to investigate violations of nature protection laws by military units. Among the problems cited in the groups report were noise pollution from routine bombing runs, illegal tree cutting, improper waste disposal and inadequate sewage purification, losses of valuable agricultural land, and using Latvian burial grounds for bombing practice. A resolution of the Latvian Supreme Soviet directed the working group to cooperate with local soviets


Perestroika from Below

and the Baltic Milita/y. District autfiorities to develop proposals for eliminating harmful environmental %practices by the military.26 Even Russian nationalists greatly resent the environmental damage inflicted on their homeland. T h e fact that the Soviet State, which bears responsibility for the pollution, has been dominated by ethnic Russians does not mitigate their discontent. W hile it is difhcult to generalize about the various currents of Russian nationalism, the phenomena of central planning, socialism, and Communist Party control of the economy are not generally blamed for Russias environmental problems. R e­ sponsibility, Russian nationalists claim, rests with corrupt bureaucrats, black marketeers, and mafia types who have squandered Russias natural wealth in pursuit of individual gain. They fault central departmental control over the Russian republic s natural resources, urging the formation of a purely Russian set of administrative and economic institutions, and republican control over the budget.27 Environmental degradation in the Russian Republic is no less serious than that in the other fourteen union republics. Among the most highly publicized issues are the continued pollution of Lake Baikal, the Brezhnev-era plan to divert Siberian rivers southward to Central Asia, the broader threat to Siberias fragile ecosystem from careless development projects, the pollution of Lake Ladoga and the area around L-eningrad, and the depletion and pollution of the Volga river. Lake Baikal has been a cause célèbre for Russias environmentalists for more than a quarter-centurv. A vigorous debate over the construction of two cellulose plants, one on the lakes shore and the other on the Selenga river feeding into the lake, led the Communist Party and government to enact resolutions mandating the installation of adequate purification facilities. During the Brezhnev period twelve decrees protecting Baikal were adopted, although none had any discernible effect in reducing pollution. Wastes from the Baikalsk and Selenga pulp and paper mills continued to flow into the lake. Air pollution and additional wastes were contributed by the Ulan-Ude industrial complex in the Selenga basin, killing much of the epishura, a zooplankton central to the lakes ecosystem. Although the environmental situation in and around Lake Baikal continued to deteriorate, public criticism of Baikals pollution problems was deliberately suppressed in the later Brezhnev years. As Controls were relaxed during the leadership transition period, concerned scientists could more accurately discuss the true extent of Baikals pollution.28 In the first years of the Gorbachev period, deputies to the Supreme Soviet and Russian nationalist literary figures such as Valentin Rasputin mobilized public sentiment against the main offender, the Ministry of Timber, Pulp and Paper, and Lumber. T h e Lake Baikal Protection Society in 1987 organized protest demonstrations, sent letters of complaint and petitions to local party and government ofhcials, and successfully opposed a plan to divert the Baikalsk plants wastes through a 70-kilometer pipeline into the Irkutsk river. T h e Baikal Fund, chaired by Peoples Deputy Gennadi Filshin and supported by Rasputin, together with several other ecology groups, is pressuring local authorities to close the Baikalsk

Environmental Politics and Policy


and Selenginsk plants immediately. By m id-1990, the Fund had raised 6 0 0 ,0 0 0 rubles to support the preservation of Lake Baikal.29 A joint Central Committee and Council of Ministers decree responded to this display of public outrage by mandating a comprehensive clean-up in the region by 1995, including conversion of the Baikalsk plant to a furniture factory and construction of a replacement pulp mill at UsF-Ilimsk. A commission of academics, journalists and writers (Rasputin was appointed to the group) was created to monitor progress and to publicize ecological violations. This commission has issued strong condemnations of myopic governmental practices (“departmentalism”) and of the Soviet economic system more generally.30 Lake Baikal is an important symbol for Russians, especially Siberians, of the unique treasures in this vast country and of the Soviet systems ability to pollute or destroy even the most valued resources. No other ecological question, with the possible exception of massive radiation poisoning, can generate comparable emotions, and certainly no other issue stimulates Russian nationalism to the same degree. Among the many newspapers and journals devoting space to the pollution of Baikal, Sovetskaia Rossiia, a strongly nationalist Russian newspaper, has published many impassioned articles in recent years calling for renewed efforts to protect the lake. In general-, Sibéria and the Soviet Far East, the most sparsely populated regions of the Soviet Union, experience some of the worst environmental problems. Geographic conditions— an extremely cold climate, the absence of hardy vegetation, a low regenerative capacity in rivers and lakes, and the fact that a substantial portion of Sibéria is ecologically delicate— either tundra or permafrost— make this vast region particularly susceptible to environmental degradation. O f the thirtysix Russian federation cities listed in the ecological “black book” (that is, having pollution leveis four to forty-six times the permissible norms), nineteen are located east of the Ural mountains.31 In the Kuznets basin, industrial dust and sulfur dioxide air pollutants have raised the incidence of lung câncer, eye inflammation, and respiratory diseases. Novosibirsk, a relatively new city of 1.4 million and a major Steel and heavy-machinery center, is heavily polluted by sulfur compounds, nitrogen, and particulates. Norilsk, a small city far above the Arctic Circle, suffers from massive sulfur emissions from ore smelters. T h e giant O b’ river is polluted by oil wastes and spillage from the huge petroleum fields in western Sibéria.32 Major literary figures living east of the Urais— most notably Rasputin and Evgenii Evtushenko— have assumed an active role protesting the destruction of Sibéria s natural environment. Many Siberians blame Moscow for the waste and pollution of the region, and they are planning to substitute locally controlled, environmentally-safe industries for production through centralized ministries. Even Communist Party authorities in the vital oil and gas producing areas of Western Sibéria are decrying the 'colonial plundering” of Siberias natural vvealth, the pollution of northern rivers, and the destruction of indigenous national cultures.33


Perestroika from Below

Russian ecologists have also been outspoken in protesting water pollution around Leningrad. Lake Ladoga, the primary source of drinking water for Leningrad and the Karelian autonomous republic, has been severely polluted by several pulp and paper enierprises, by fertilizer and animal waste runoff from nearby farms, and by municipal sevvage. To further complicate matters, planners decided to construct a system of dikes across the G u lf of Finland to protect the city from periodic flooding. Many experts claim the dam will interfere with the natural sluicing of Leningrad s waterways, turning the “ Venice of the North” into a stagnant open sevver. As with the case of Lake Baikal, government decrees have had minimal effect on Leningrad s water quality. Government inaction provoked considerable opposition from the Russian intelligentsia under Gorbachev. Iurii Bondarev, a nationalist “village school” author, speaking at the 1986 congress of Soviet writers, equated the protection of Lake Ladoga, and the natural environment more broadly, with the protection and preservation of Russian culture.34 In May 1987 the Party Central Committee severely criticized the Ministry of Timber, Pulp and Paper, and Lumber and the State Agro-Industrial Committee for failing to implement environmental protection measures. A major polluter, the Priozersk cellulose plant, was closed down. T h e Academy of Sciences and the State Committee for Science and Technology were criticized for excessive delays in developing ecologically sound plans for utilizing the Lake Ladoga basin. Further study of the basins ecological system was ordered.35 A commission of specialists from the Academy of Sciences and various ministries was appointed in late 1988 to study the impact of the dam. W hile the commission described ecological conditions in Lake Ladoga, the Neva River, and the Neva Inlet Basin as abysmal, and acknowledged that flood control measures would complicate the ecological situation, they identified inadequate sewage treatment as the main culprit. T h e commission recommended that Leningrad organizations construct effective purification facilities for sewage treatment, and proposed the formation of a permanent environmental oversight regime for the entire basin.36 As of this writing, the status of the Leningrad dam issue remains unresolved. In August 1990 the deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet ecology committee, biologist Aleksei Iablokov; chief editor of Novyi mir and chairman of the group Ecology and the World, Sergei Zalygin; and two other members of the U SSR Academy of Sciences charged that the President of the Academy, Gennadi Marchuk, was manipulating commission reports in order to convince the Council of Ministers to proceed with the project. Marchuk, they asserted, was co-opted by departmental interests in Gosplan, the State Committee for Science and Technology, the State Committee for Nature Protection, and the central and Russian republic Councils of Ministers, which were determined to complete the dam.37 One of the most prominent environmental battles of the mid-1980s was fought over plans to divert water from the O b’ and Irtysh rivers southward to Central

Environmental Politics and Policy


Asia. T h e Siberian river diversion project envisioned construction of some 2 4 0 0 kilometers of canais to supplement irrigation efforts in Uzbekistan and to replenish the depleted lower reaches of the Volga.38 Among the opponents of the project were Russian nationalist writers, including Rasputin, Evtushenko, Bondarev, and Zalygin, who argued that ancient Orthodox churches and other historical sites would be destroyed and the fragile Siberian ecosystem irrevocably transformed. Many scientists expressed concern about the possible climatic effects of reducing water flow to the polar ice cap. Economists and geographers suggested it would be more cost-effective simply to improve efhciency in Central Asian irrigation; well over half of all water used for irrigation in the region is currently lost through evaporation or seepage from poorly lined canais. Defending the river diversion scheme were a coalition of party and government ofhcials in the Central Asian republics, scientists involved in the project, the U SSR and Russian republic ministries of Land Reclamation and Water Resources, who had invested heavily in preparatory work, certain ofhcials of the State Planning Committee, and representatives of the Central Asian intellectual community. T h e diversion project was necessary, they claimed, to meet demands for irrigation, for clean drinking water, and to replenish the shrinking Arai Sea. Prospects for development in Central Asia, the poorest region of the Soviet Union, would effectively be put on hold if the project was shelved.39 T h e new Gorbachev regime did not demonstrate a strong commitment to the diversion project. By the twenty-seventh C P S U Congress, in February-March 1986, an official of the State Planning Committee announced that work on the canais was being suspended. A joint resolution of the Party Central Committee and Council of Ministers formally halted preparatory and design work in August, citing serious economic and ecological reservations, and instructed Central Asian officials to improve water use efficiency by 1 5 -2 0 percent.40 Debate over the merits o f the project continued in the pages of Pravda, Nash sovremennik, a conservative Russian nationalist literary monthly, and Z vezda vostokay the Russianlanguage journal of the Uzbek writers' union.41 However, should Central Asian environmentalists succeed in diversifying the regions economy, and thereby lower the demand for water, the issue of diverting Siberian rivers southward will become increasingly irrelevant. Soviet ecology groups are so diverse in their goals, structure, tactics and methods of operation that it is difficult to generalize about them. Many seek to preserve a national or cultural heritage endangered through years of communist neglect and abuse. A common goal is to educate the population about environmental ills, and to force the authorities to make available to the public more complete information. Ecology groups frequently use mass demonstrations, protest, petitions and letter-writing campaigns to close polluting factories or stop environmentally destructive construction projects. However, as suggested in the following section, these groups have not yet routinized their relationships with policy-makers.


Perestroika from Below

Environmental Policy under Gorbachev Ecologists in the Soviet Union have frequently asserted that a powerful agency modeled on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is needed to coordinate and implement environmental policies. Through the 1960s and most of the 1970s, polluting enterprises and ministries were urged to be self-policing, a strategy that had predictably weak impact. Agencies specifically charged with environmental protection missions did not have the financial resources, legal authority, or political support of the party to combat pollution effectively.

State Agencies From 1978 to 1988 the State Committee for Hydrometeorology and the Environment (Gidromet) functioned as the primary Soviet environmental agency, although the bulk of its work consisted of weather forecasting and compiling data for use in national economic planning. T h e chairman of this Committee, Dr. Iurii Izrael, established a respectable environmental record. Yet his organization possessed neither the resources nor the legal clout to pursue violators of environ­ mental regulations, and in 1988 its environmental duties were assumed by a new State Committee for Nature Protection ( Goskompriroda ). Supposedly, Gidromet was relegated to a more narrow weather forecasting and research role.42 Other environmental organizations that were formed in the late Brezhnev period included a department for environmental protection of the State Planning C om ­ mittee, and a commission on environmental protection attached to the Council of Ministers. However, these various agencies and commissions were granted insufficient enforcement powers to deal effectively with environmental polluters. Environmental considerations were regularly sacrificed to the interests of industrial and agricultural producers.43 Following extensive debate on governmental reorganization for enhanced en­ vironmental protection, the formation of Goskompriroda was announced in January 1988. This organization was to assume the environmental protection functions of Gidromet and other departments, creating a new, more powerful agency to centralize Soviet environmental policy and ensure the rational use of natural resources. Since headquarters staff in Moscow is to be kept relatively small, at about 4 0 0 , policies will be implemented primarily through parallel nature protection committees in each of the union republic, oblast’ and district governments. Personnel for Goskomprirodas Moscow office were recruited from other ministries and departments.

Goskompriroda s responsibilities include oversight of ministry activities and enforcement of environmental regulations, preparing and carrying out major en­ vironmental resolutions, developing economic incentives for rational use of natural resources, regulating the system of nature preserves, organizing educational programs, and administering international environmental protection accords. T h e new agency was granted a leading and coordinating role in environmental research,

Environmental Politics and Policy


and was given the legal authority to close down polluting industries. Goskompriroda also has a mandate to maintain close contact with broader social forces concerned about environmental protection.44 Fedor Morgun, a Ukrainian Communist Party official and soil conservation expert, was appointed the first chairman.45 Developing Goskompriroda into an agency capable of reversing the Soviet Unions abysmal environmental record will be a difficult and lengthy task. More than a year after Goskompriroda was created, chairman Morgun reported that his agency was still in the process of completing its structural outlines and recruiting personnel; actual environmental work had not yet begun.46 In August 1989 the U SSR Supreme Soviet confirmed Dr. Nikolai Vorontsov, a highly respected biologist, as Morguns replacement. Vorontsov, former director of the Academy of Sciences Far Eastern Institute of Biology and Soils and since 1988 chief scientist at the Koltzov Institute of Evolution Biology, was the first non-party member in Soviet history to head a state committee. Nominated by the Academy of Sciences to stand in elections to the Congress of Peoples Deputies, Vorontsov won on a platform of “ Diversity and Stability.” Cultural and ethnic diversity, he maintained, were as criticai to a healthy society as species diversity was to sustaining a stable biological population. Following his appointment as chairman of Goskompriroda, Vorontsov noted his agency was “still in the throes of organization,” and acknowledged that major improvements in the environment could not be expected in the immediate future.47 T h e newly-empowered Supreme Soviet, which spent much of its summer session reviewing and confirming candidates for ministerial posts, reportedly approached several prominent scientists before selecting Dr. Vorontsov to chair Goskompriroda. As the Supreme Soviet evolves into a fully functioning legislature, we can expect it to assume a larger role in monitoring environmental policies. T h e U.S. Congressional system of an extensive professional staff and research Service is being studied. This development, together with the formation of a new Committee on Ecology and Efficient Use of Natural Resources, will undoubtedly strengthen the Supreme Soviets legislative oversight capacity. As these new institutions evolve, Soviet ecology groups can be expected to establish working relationships with the legislature and Goskompriroda.

Grass-roots Groups Considering the intensity of public concern over pollution issues, Soviet en­ vironmental groups will continue to enjoy strong popular support for their activities. Recent national and local elections have seen the emergence of a “green politics" in Soviet campaigns. Several green movements and ecology groups nominated candidates for the March 1989 elections to the Congress of Peoples Deputies, and for the spring 1990 republic and local elections. In general, environmentalist positions were highly popular with Soviet voters, regardless of whether or not a candidate was formally nominated by an ecological organization.48 Once in office,

Perestroika from Below


however, many legislators have found their crowded agendas have shifted ecology issues to the background. T h e new post of elected President provides an ideal opportunity for decisive execuiive action, if Gorbachev is willing to use the powers of his office to promote environmental responsibility. As President, he could propose environmental measures, shepherd legislation through the Supreme Soviet, and mobilize public opinion behind new strategies. In the past, Gorbachev has frequently cited environmental issues as among the more criticai problems facing the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Gorbachevs Presidential Council includes two popular writers who have taken strong pro-environmental stands— the Russian nationalist Rasputin, and Chingiz Aitmatov, a Kirghiz novelist (Rasputin is also a member of the Supreme Soviet ecology committee). However, even with a strong individual commitment on Gorbachev s part, there are competing pressures to devote time, energy and resources to economic reform, nationality issues, and foreign policy. O n balance, these developments are encouraging for Soviet conservationists. However, as of late 1990 the links between the hundreds of ecology groups and these new political and administrative organizations are still tenuous and unclear. Moscows policy-makers have been preoccupied with designing an acceptable economic reform program and with working out a new relationship between the center and the republics by formulating a new Union treaty. T h e draft statute of a comprehensive law on nature protection was being circulated within the Soviet legislature in spring 1990, but as of this writing has not yet been enacted into law.49

Conclusion In Western countries, the social and economic programs advocated by envi­ ronmental movements reflect the evolution of values from a preoccupation with economic growth and national security toward greater concern for post-materialist, quality-of-life issues. Environmental values also embody broadly transnational perspectives. Analysts generally credit material prosperity and high leveis of education for this shift toward an environmental value paradigm. In the Soviet Union, however, pollution has become so widespread and threatening that a dynamic environmental movement has developed even amid relative material deprivation. T h e massive failure of authoritarian socialist countries to address the problem of environmental degradation has been convincingly demonstrated. These highly centralized and bureaucratized Systems lack the flexibility and responsiveness to deal effectively with complex issues. Decisions on economic development were dictated to the republics and locales by central departments that either were not aware of, or did not care about the environmental consequences of their policies. Responsible figures in the Soviet artistic and scientific communities resisted

Environmental Politics and Policy


ecologically disastrous practices, but lacking the political freedom to mobilize public opinion against official policy, their cautionary voices could easily be ignored. T h e political reforms implemented under Mikhail Gorbachev have significantly altered this state of affairs. Glasnost and democratization have made it far more difficult for central authorities to site nuclear power stations, toxic waste dumps, major industrial plants, and other polluting facilities without public participation and approval. O f course, democratic input from the Soviet public will not automatically guarantee more rational and environmentally benign policies. Pluralizing the decision-making process tends to interject emotional appeals alongside scientific debates. Competition between environmental objectives and economic modernization goals will be especially intense, considering the criticai nature of both sets of issues. However, the impressive number of new groups willing to fight for a cleaner environment, and the fundamentally democratic character of this grassroots political activism, are grounds for cautious optimism about the Soviet political and environmental future.

Notes 1. For a more extended discussion, see Charles E . Ziegler, Environmental Policy in the USSR (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987), 4 5 - 7 7 . 2. David Marples discusses the Ukrianian ecology movement Zelenyi svit in Chapter

8. 3. “ Merkurii: periodicheskoe izdanie Soveta predstavitelei (Epitsentr) sotsiarno-kulturnogo dvizheniia,”

Posev, 1987:7 (July), 3 0 - 4 0 .

Report on the State of the Environment in the USSR 1988 (Moscow, 1989), 1 6 0 -6 1 ; The Washington Post (May 4. USSR State Committee for the Protection of Nature,

30, 1990). 5.

Ogonek, 4 4 (1989), 5.

6. Elizabeth Fuller, “ Mass demonstration in Armênia against environmental pollution,,,

Radio Liberty Research Bulletin, R L 4 2 1 /8 7 (October 18, 1987). 7. Budapest television, in FBIS Daily Report (February 2, 1990). 8. See the remarks by Robert A. Lewis and L ee Schwartz in “ Panei on nationalism in the USSR: environmental and territorial aspects,”

Soviet Geography, 3 0 :6 (June 1989),

4 4 1 -5 0 9 . 9. See Philip P. Micklin, “ Dessication of the Arai Sea: a water management disaster

Science, 2 4 1 :4 8 7 0 (1988), 1170-1176; and William S. Ellis, “A National Geographic, 177:2 (February 1990), 7 3 -9 3 . 10. A. Vasifev and M . Krans, “Arai: varianty reshenii,” Kommunist 1990:2 (February),

in the Soviet Union,” Soviet sea lies dying,” 56.

11. Associated Press (June 16, 1989). 12. See Bess Brown, “T h e role of public groups in

perestroika in Central Asia,” Report

on the USSR , 2 :4 (January 26, 1990). 13. Vasifev and Krans, 5 5 -6 5 . 14. Charles E . Ziegler, “ Soviet environmental protection under Gorbachev,” Politics of Pollution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (On the Second Anniversary of the


Perestroika from Below

Chernobyl Disaster), Par.t II, Hearing Before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, One Hundredih Congress, Apri! 26, 1988, 5 0 -7 8 . 15. Elizabeth Fuller and Mirza Mikaeli, “Azerbaidjan belatedly discovers environmental pollution,”

Radio Liberty Research (R L 2 /8 8 ), December 30, 1987.

16. Yasin Aslan and Elizabeth Fuller, “Azerbaidjani press discusses link between ecological problems and health defects,”

Report on the USSR, 1:31 (August 4, 1989).

17. Mirza Michaeli and William Reese, “The Popular Front in Azerbaidjan and its program,”

Report on the USSR , 1:34 (August 25, 1989).

18. Zeev Wolfson, “ ‘Nitrates’— a new problem for the Soviet consumer,”

Report on

the USSR , 1:20 (May 19, 1989). 19. Grigore Singurel, “ Moldavia on the barricades of perestroika,”

Report on the USSR,

1:8 (February 24, 1989). 20. Vladimir Socor, “T h e Moldavian Greens: an independent ecological association,”

Report on the USSR, 1:11 (March 17, 1989). 21. Repori on the State of the Environment in the USSR 1988, 1 6 3 -6 4 . 22. See Dimitri Devyatkin, “ Report from Estônia: an interview with a leader of the

Environment, 30:1 0 (December 1988), 1 3 -1 5 . FB íS Daily Report (February 26 , 1990). 24. lzvestiia (January 23, 1990), 3. 25. Nils R. Muiznieks, “The Daugavpils Hydro Station and glasnost in Latvia,” Journal of Baltic Studies, 18:1 (Spring 1987), 6 3 - 7 0 . 26. FBIS Daily Report (February 16, 1990). green movement,” 23.

27. These positions are drawn from the campaign platform of the Bloc of Russian Public-Patriotic Movements, an umbrella organization of the following groups: the United Council of Rússia Association (National Accord); the Unity Association of Lovers of Russian Literature and Art; the Rússia Club of USSR Peoples Deputies and Voters; the All-Russian Cultural Fund; the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments; the United Front of Working People of Rússia; the Public Committee to Save the Volga; the Fellowship of Russian Artists; the Russian Section of the International Foundation for Slavic Literatures and Slavic Cultures; the Union for Spiritual Rebirth of the Fatherland; the Russian Republic Voluntary Society of Book Lovers; and the Fund to

Literaturnaia Rossiia (December 29 , 1989), as Current Digest of the Soviet Press, 42:1 (February 7, 1990), 1 -4 , 23. 28. See, for example, Kh. Kh. Trass, “ Ekologicheskoe myshlenie i Baikal,” Priroda,

Restore the Church of Christ the Savior. translated in

1984:10 (November), 4 3 - 4 9 ; and G . Galazii, “ Protection of the Lake Baikal ecosystem,”

Man and Biosphere (Moscow: Nauka, 1984). 29. john Massey Stewart, “T h e great lake is in great peril,”

New Scientist (June 30,

1990), 5 8 -6 2 . 30. See Zeev Wolfson, “Anarchy mirrored in Lake Baikal,”

Report on the USSR,

1:21 (May 26, 1989). 31. The cities are Angarsk, Barnaul, Blagoveshchensk, Bratsk, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Komsomolsk, Krasnoiarsk, Kurgan, Nizhnii Tagil, Novokuznetsk, Norilsk, Omsk, Tium en, Usol’e-Sibirskoe, Khabarovsk, Cheliabinsk, Shelekhov, and Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Pravda (Sep-

tember 1, 1989), 8. 32. For an informative discussion of Siberias ecological problems, see Mike Edwards, “ Sibéria: In from the cold,”

National Geographic (March 1990), 2 - 3 9 .

Environmental Politics and Policy


33. See the interview with the First Secretary of the Khanty-Mansiiskii autonomous

Izvestiia (March 2 0 , 1990), 3. Literaturnaia gazeta, 27 (July 2, 1986), 10. The Leningrad ecology group Delta, led by thirty-seven-year-old writer Petr Kozhevnikov, and supported region, in

34. His speech is printed in

by the cultural organization Club-81, conducted an active campaign in opposition to the Gulf of Finland dam. 35. 36.

Sovetskaia Rossiia (May 29 , 1987), 1. Leningradskaia pravda (April 21, 1989), translated in Current Digest of the Soviet

Press, 41:19 (June 7, 1989), 2 3 - 2 4 . 37. A. Iablokov, A. Monin, Iu. Polianskii, S. Zalygin, “ Nuzhny li uchenye prezidentu?,”

Izvestiia (August 7, 1990), 3. 38. See Philip P. Micklin, “T h e vast diversion of Soviet rivers,”

Environment, 27:3

(March 1985), 1 2 -2 0 , 4 0 - 4 5 . 39. A debate over the merits of the diversion project was conducted in the pages of

Novyi mir: See Sergei Zalygin, “ Povorot: uroki odnoi diskussii,” Novyi mir, 1 (January 1987), 3 -1 8 ; and “ Kak sovershaetsia povorot,” Novyi mir, 1 (July 1987), 18 1 -2 3 5 . Also, see Bess Brown, “ W hat will cancellation of the Siberian river diversion project mean to

Radio Liberty Research (R L 3 3 4 /8 6 ), August 26 , 1986. Pravda, August 20 , 1986, 1. 41. Peter Sinnott, “ Water diversion politics,” Radio Liberty Research (R L 3 7 4 /8 8 ),

Central Asia,” 40 .

August 17, 1988. 42 .

Gidromet has continued to function as a prominent environmental research or­

ganization, most notably in detailing radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl' accident. See

Pravda (April 17, 1990), 4.

43. For an extended discussion, see Ziegler,

Environmental Policy in the USSR. Goskompriroda. Joan DeBardeleben,

4 4 . In fact, there is a specialist for social relations in

“The new politics in the USSR: the case of the environment,” unpublished paper presented to the Fourth World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies, Harrogate, England, July 2 1 -2 6 , 1990. 45 . T h e announcement of

Goskompriroda s formation was carried in Pravda, (January

17, 1988), 1 -2 . For an excellent detailed review of the Com m ittees formation, functions

“Perestroika and priroda: environmental protection Pace Environmental Law Review, 5:2 (Spring 1988), 3 7 4 -3 8 7 . 4 6 . F. Morgun, “ Ekologiia v sisteme planirovaniia,” Planovoe khoziaistvo, 2 (February

and powers, see Nicholas A. Robinson, in the U SSR,” 1989), 5 3 -5 4 . 47 . W /ios

Who in the Soviet Government (Moscow: Novosti, 1990), 1 6 8 -1 7 4 .

48 . On two trips to the Soviet Union in spring 1989, I was repeatedly told that candidates had little hope of winning a seat to the Congress without adopting an environmental stance. 49 . “Zakon SSSR ob okhrane prirody (proekt).” I am indebted to Philip R. Pryde for making a copy of this draft law available to me.

8 The Greening of Ukraine: Ecology and the Emergence of Z elenyi svit, 1986-1990 D a v id R. M a rp les

T h e alarm generated by the Chernobyl fallout has heightened Ukrainian awareness of ecological issues. W hile the original focus on ecological issues may have come from Moscow, the Ukrainians have subsequently embraced ecological preservation as one of their most significant goals. It is impossible to discuss the economic future of Ukraine or the possibility of an economically sovereign Ukraine without taking into account environmental issues. Ecology has become a populist topic, one that raises emotions and frustrations, and moreover one that encompasses a broad spectrum of the population. In essence it concerns the present and future existence of Ukrainians and whether they will live in a healthy or polluted environment. T h e problems that have been elucidated predate Mikhail Gorbachev, and many also predate Leonid Brezhnev, who is widely cited as the main culprit for expanding industry so carelessly throughout the republic in the 1960s and 1970s. This chapter highlights some of the principal ecological dilemmas now facing Ukraine and demonstrates how such problems led directly to the formation of the ecological association called Zelenyi svit (Green World).

Irrigation Schemes on the Eve of the Gorbachev Period For more than two decades, the Soviet authorities have tried to resolve the problem of drought in Ukraine, especially in Southern regions such as Odessa and Kherson, by means of grandiose and ambitious irrigation and river diversion schemes. Concepts such as the D anube-D nieper Canal, the Danube-Dniester Canal, and the drainage of the marshlands of Polissia were long-term plans that not only failed to recoup investment costs within the required period ( 5 - 7 years), 133

Perestroika from Below


but in addition salinizetl much agricultural land through the poor lining of the canais. Considerable erosion of the soil has occurred and these schemes constituted the most damning and obvious destruction of nature prior to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Always unpopular, the irrigation schemes, planned and controlled by the Ministry for Land Improvement and Water Economy in Moscow, solicited the first real public concern for the Ukrainian ecology. By 1987, fuelled by the environmental concerns of Chernobyl, those concerned about the protection of nature in Ukraine began a series of petitions, letters, discussions and even demonstrations to put a stop to current and future plans to divert Ukrainian rivers and build a new complex of canais.1 Paralíel to the campaign to halt construction of the D anube-D nieper Canal, another series of protests was conducted that vvas also to have a major impact on the Ukrainian economy, namely those against the construction of nuclear power plants. Such major consumers of water had been constructed ostensibly because they were ecologically clean sources of power. After the accident at Chernobyl, however, it became impossible for advocates to make such claims. Moreover, the fact that Ukraine had been designated as the center of the nuclear power program added fuel to the fire. T h e eventual halt of construction of the canais reinforced activists’ efforts to stop the building of new reactors on Ukrainian territory, partly for the same reason: the republic simply lacked sufficient supplies of water to meet the expansionist plans in nuclear energy.

T he Chernobyl Myth Nuclear power has provided evidence of the fact that perestroika has not yet affected the old, centralized Soviet bureaucracy. Officials based in Moscow, at allUnion ministries, were still making decisions about nuclear power plants scattered across the Soviet Union, often without any prior discussion with local residents. In the past, it had not been customary for such plans to be discussed publicly. There was no open discussion on an issue such as nuclear power, partly because the industry had a key military side, and partly because it was felt to be selfevident that the country needed the electricity that would be generated, and without it would find it difficult to survive as a modern state. It is worth noting that this supposition is hardly unique to the Soviet Union and that, even in the democratic West, discussion around nuclear power has often brought out the worst of two sides rather than reasoned debate. Chernobyl naturally altered the focus of the debate worldwide. Simply put, there remain two fundamental views on the question. T h e first is that Chernobyl was the worst possible nuclear accident and yet, ultimately, nothing near as bad as was painted by the media. O ne proponent of nuclear power, a Canadian physics professor, has thus used newspaper clippings of accidents that resulted in much higher numbers of immediate deaths, combined with sensational reports that appeared in the Western media and in some of the more passionate monographs

The Greening o f Ukraine

13 5

that have appeared on the subject, to iílustrate that Chernobyl was not the epochal event that some have claimed. This same source has also maintained that the Soviet R B M K reactor is not particulariy dangerous.2 One can categorize this approach as strictly scientific or academic because it tends to negate the human reaction to such an event. However, Chernobyl was akin to an earthquake that contained a much greater aftershock. T h e number of victims of Chernobyl is rising much more quickly today than in 1986, and even the most partisan observers can hardly deny that the story, as presented ofhcially by the Soviet authorities, was not complete and in fact concealed the widespread damage to the environment (as has been acknowledged also by the U SSR and Ukrainian Supreme Soviets). As a result, thousands of people became sick in areas that were not evacuated. Moreover, academic institutions that may debate issues such as the strengths and weaknesses of the R B M K reactor are far removed from the lonely villages of northern Ukraine or Belorussia, which have had to live with the consequences of the accident. And in Ukraine, it would be harsh to judge the response to Chernobyl purely in scholarly or scientific terms. Ukraine has seen an outpouring of despair and emotions. It has seen a sometimes violent campaign against nuclear power plants of all kinds. There is no faith in nuclear power in Ukraine; yet it was here that the republics economic future rested, and here that a giant expansion of the nuclear power industry was planned. T h e expansion program, therefore, became the prime target of protesters from all walks of life. T h e process which led to the emergence of a powerful Ukrainian ecological association might be described as the development (and subsequent debunking) of a Chernobyl myth, or, at the least, the provision of a simplified version of that accident. It began in August 1986, with the report given by the Soviet delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IA EA ) in Vienna, which was led by the late Valerii Legasov, First Deputy Chairman of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy. Along with a supplementary report provided at the same location one year later, the report was generally lauded for its openness and for the details about the nature of the accident. At the same time, however, it appeared to neglect the fundamental questions of the extent of radioactive fallout and the possible health consequences that might emerge. It was stiíl possible to “keep the lid” on Chernobyl, but only until a much higher incidence of illness occurred in the Chernobyl-affected zones of Belorussia and Ukraine. T h e problems were compounded by the Center for Radiation Medicine, established in Kiev in Fali 1986 specifically to deal with the victims of radiation fallout. Two personalities have dominated the Center. As it falis under the jursidiction of the Academy of Medicai Sciences of the U SSR , the Academy s Vice-President, Leonid Ilyin, has had a decisive voice in the monitoring of victims. Second, the Center itself is directed by Anatolii Romanenko, Ukrainian health minister until November 1989. Both men have been heavily criticized by the Ukrainian public. Romanenko failed to provide a health warning to the Ukrainian public for a full


Perestroika from Below

ten days after the accident; while Ilyin maintained and continued to maintain that there was no potential dànger from radiation even to the population of the nuclear plants neighboring city of Pripiat, which was evacuated forty hours after the explosion occurred. Both attributed subsequent health problems to “ radiophobia” among the population. ín their view, it was the fear of radiation, rather than the process itseíf, that was causing increased illness, through stress.4 Other factors heightened the tension in Ukraine in 1 9 8 7 -8 8 in particular. T h e iJkrainian nuclear power program (promulgated before the accident) envisaged a capacity expansion of 6 00 percent between 1985 and the year 2 0 0 0 . As part of this expansion, the construction of five highly controversial stations was planned. Three were so-called nuclear power and heating stations, which were to provide heating and electricity for major cities. O f necessity, these stations had to be located quite close to the cities themselves and certainly well within the twentyfive kilometer limit ofhcially imposed for regular nuclear stations. Thus each of Ukraines major cities— Odessa, Kharkov and Kiev (in order of how close to completion these stations were in 1987)— was to have had such a station. T h e other two new stations were being constructed at Crimea and Chigirin. T h e Crimean station was almost ready for Service at the time of Chernobyl, but the original groundwork for the location of the station was declared to have been faulty. To the fury of local Crimeans, who had seen their idyllic peninsula gradually transformed into a major industrial zone through the 1970s and 1980s, a commission from the U SSR Academy of Sciences concluded that the seismic activity in the region around the nuclear plant was sufhcient to preclude the building of any major structure. Having reached such a conclusion, however, the Soviet government declined to halt the project until the Crimeans threatened an all-out industrial strike in October 1989.5 T h e furor over the Chigirin station developed into the prototype of Ukrainian ecological and patriotic protests. Located on the already overused Dnieper River, in an ancient historical region of Ukraine and the former seat of the Ukrainian Hetman state, the station was overwhelmingly opposed by local residents. Letters of concern were addressed to the Ukrainian Writers’ Union, at that time the organization most receptive to such concerns. Chigirins situation epitomized the Ukrainian dilemma: the plans for such stations were made by ministries in Moscow, the representatives of which had no concern for local Ukrainian interests. T h e bureaucratic command economy had remained in place and the result was the overriding of native concerns. These twin concerns, Crimea and Chigirin, became focal points of virtually every anti-nuclear outpouring from the public. T h e other stations— Chernobyl, Rovno, Zaporozhe, South Ukraine, and Khmelnitsky— were already operational. It was necessary, first of all, to halt the construction of any new stations; activists could then turn their attention to closing nuclear power stations already operational. By the fali of 1988, the anti-nuclear protests had become a feature not merely in Ukraine, but of Soviet life in general.6

The Greening o f Ukraine


Meanwhile, the news from Chemobyl continued to vvorsen. In 1 9 8 8 -8 9 , a succession of documentary films were fnade in the Narodichi region, in Ukraines Zhitomir oblast, which portrayed sick children and deformed livestock born since Chemobyl. Interviews with medicai specialists from the area revealed that although it was located only about sixty miles from Chemobyl, Narodichi had been virtually ignored by the authorities. As a result, children in particular had been susceptible to radiation fallout, especially from iodine-131 and cesium-137. Thyroid tumors had risen noticeably. T h e major films were entitled “ Porih” (Threshold) and “ M ikro-fon!” (Microphone), while in May 1989 a new documentary entitled “Zapredel” (Beyond the Limits) supplemented the earlier information. “ M i-kro-fon!” was perhaps the most powerful of the three, an emotionally haunting series of interviews and shots. Two newspapers, Moscow News and the Ukrainian-language youth newspaper, Molod ’ Ukrainy, published several of the interviews conducted in the film by director Grigorii Shkliarevsky and Yurii Shcherbak. By the spring of Spizhenko, who was declared that he was were having adverse

1990, at a meeting of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, Yurii appointed Ukrainian Minister of Health in November 1989, obliged to acknowledge that the consequences of the disaster effects on the health of children. There were currently one

million people living in areas where the background radiation was well above normal, and the figure included 2 5 0 ,0 0 0 children. In 1986, which appears to be the only year for which complete data have been provided by medicai specialists, the thyroid glands of 5,800 children and 7 ,0 0 0 adults were found to have been affected by radiation to a degree that endangered their health. In addition, about 2 0 0 ,0 0 0 former cleanup workers currently living in Ukraine were said to require increased medicai attention.7 Information about the consequences of the accident had been in the sole possession of the so-called Third Department of the U SSR Ministry of Health, which Spizhenko chided for its secrecy, demanding that such information be handed over to republican organs.8 To Zelenyi svit, as to the Ukrainian public in general, Chemobyl had become a classic example of official secrecy, of what was wrong with the present system. T h e psychological impact of the accident, especially its delayed impact on the peoples health, may have been of even more significance than actual physical illnesses in sparking the ecological movement. And in this movement, emotions have always played a key role, so much so that the health authorities have decried such protests. In tum , environmental activists like Shcherbak and the Belorussian writer and peoples deputy, Ales’ Adamovich, have branded the health officials as “liars” and “bureaucrats” more attuned to an earlier era of Soviet life. W hen one official from the Kiev Center of Radiation Medicine ventured north to Narodichi to be harangued by local residents, one repórter described the meeting as akin to two sides separated by an invisible barrier.9 T h e authorities had become alienated from their own public; there was a credibility gap, nurtured by official secrecy about Chemobyl. And this gap was the single biggest catalyst behind the development of Zelenyi svit.

Perestroika from Below


The Founding of Z elen yi Svit In addition to the controversial lana improvement and nuclear power programs, the emergence of Z elenyi svit was a result also of other basic ecological damage of the Ukrainian environment, predominantly by heavy industry. In the summer of 1989, M .R Skrypnvk, the Chairman of the Ukrainian Committee for Hydrometeorology, published a survey of the ecological situation in Ukraine, based on an analysis of forty-two cities. He ascertained that in 1988, eleven million tons of poisonous substances, including sulfurous oxides and ammonia, were released into the atmosphere from “stationary” objects, particularly in the oblasts of Donetsk, Zaporozhe, Dnepropetrovsk, Crimea and Kiev. In these regions, automobile fumes account for most of the pollution. Concentrations of oil, nitric acid, and phenols in rivers have reached a catastrophic levei, especially in the Dnieper, Dniester and Southern Bug rivers.10 Z elenyi svit was officially formed in Decem ber 1987 but did not hold a founding congress for almost two years. Its first and only chairman has been Yurii Shcherbak, a Ukrainian writer and medicai doctor, who was personally affected deeply by the ramifications of Chernobyl and what he perceived as official secrecy about that accident. Shcherbak published a book about Chernobyl,11 but remained dissatisfied with a System that organized Ukrainian industry from outside the republic. As a writer, Shcherbak exhibits an emotional attachment to his native land, and Z elenyi svit likewise arose as an informal ecological association— not a political party— out of concern for the Ukrainian land. T h e umbrella group of Z elenyi svit was the Committee for the Defense of Peace, though it seems fair to say that Z elenyi

svit has had little in common with the peace movement, which was originally nurtured by Stalin. Initially, Z elenyi svit was bitterly opposed not only by the very conservative Ukrainian party leadership, but also by the Ukrainian State Committee for the Protection of Nature, founded in the Gorbachev period ostensibly for the same purpose that Z elenyi svit was eventually formed. T h e emergence of Z elenyi svit was ipso fa d o testimony to the fact that activists believed the State Nature Committee had not fulfilled and could not fulfill its purpose, given that it was a state organization. Some key individuais, however, were active in both groups. For example, during the campaign against Ukrainian nuclear power plants, one of the ringleaders in the effort to stop Chigirin station was Fedor Morgun, the Poltava oblast party secretary, who subsequently became the Chairman of the U SSR State Committee for the Protection of Nature (until the summer of 1989). W hile Morgun was active in Ukrainian environmental issues before Z elenyi svit was founded, his concerns in 1987 and those of the future association appear to have been identical. It is possible that, once Morgun left Ukraine, his effectiveness was reduced. One of the main differences between the two organizations was that Shcherbak and his main associates, such as the prominent Ukrainian biologist Dmytro Grodzinsky, a deputy chairman, and secretary Sviatoslav Dudko, were

The Greening o f Ukraine

13 9

not party members. Indeed, much of Z elenyi svit s venom was aimed at Ukrainian party leader, Volodymyr Shcherbitsky12 According to Dudko, Z elenyi svit achieved some significant successes even before its founding congress in October 1989. It was planned, for example, to build a railroad in South Kiev. T h e project would have entailed the destruction of 25 0 hectares of forest in the region of Bykovnya, where thousands of local residents were executed by Stalins N K V D . Construction has now been canceled following protests by the association. A tohacco factory that posed a threat in terms of environmental contamination has been abandoned at Uman. After the congress, in 1990, there was controversy over the construction of a bridge to link the city of Zaporozhe and the island of Khortitsa; it was claimed that more than 1,000 species of wildlife would be destroyed during the ten-year construction period.13 In each case, the stoppage or postponement of the project could be attributed directly to agitation and persuasion on the part of members of Z elenyi svit. More recently, at the associations behest and after local protests, a U SSR government commission has been established to look into a proposed radar station in the Transcarpathian region of western Ukraine.14 T h e earliest manifestation of the growing environmental movement in Ukraine was a demonstration in Kiev on the second anniversary of Chernobyl, on April 26, 1988. But perhaps the key event was the official ecological demonstration organized on November 13, 1988, in central Kiev. About 10,000 people participated. Although ostensibly convened to express the concern of the public over the ecological situation in the Ukrainian republic, the meeting also made several direct political statements and attacked the Kiev party hierarchy, making specific reference to the Ukrainian Communist Party First Secretary, Volodymyr Shcherbitsky, and what was described as the “ Brezhnevite” party apparatus in Ukraine. Speakers interviewed in Kiev on the following day remarked that not only was the meeting a manifestation of ecological concerns, but also that it marked an important stage in the foundation of the Ukrainian Popular Movement to Support Perestroika

(Rukh).ls T h e demonstration was organized by four groups: Z elenyi svit; the Ukrainian cultural heritage group Spadshchyna; Hromada , a student group from the University of Kiev; and an informal ecological group called Noosfera. Speakers at the meeting included Shcherbak, the Ukrainian poet and language activist Dmytro Pavlychko, and political activists such as Oles Shevchenko and Ivan Makar, both at that time associated with the Ukrainian Helsinki Group (now called the Ukrainian Republican Party), which favors an independent Ukrainian state. One speaker, whose remarks perhaps typified the meeting, maintained that the Ukrainian nation was approaching an ecological catastrophe and that the republic had become “saturated” with nuclear reactors. He maintained that the nuclear program for building reactors in the republic constituted a “ horrible crime” against the Ukrainian nation. At the end of the meeting, the organizers presented a series of resolutions (none of which were published in the official press), which were sent to the


Perestroika from Below

Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR . They stated that the ecological situation worldwide, and in Ukraine in particular, was menacing and required immediate action. It was pointed out that the party apparatus in Ukraine did not represent the interests of the Ukrainian people, and “thoughtlessly [had] exploit[ed] natural resources.” T h e resolutions also declared that the whole truth about the Chernobyl disaster had not been revealed and that the authorities had continued to propagate a “ myth” about the lack of energy alternatives to nuclear power. It was demanded that work on the Chigirin and Crimean stations be immediately halted and that the three operating reactors at Chernobyl be switched off. An ecological bulletin, also called Z elenyi svit, was to be founded. T h e real significance of the November 13 demonstration was that it revealed the unity of grass-roots thinking on ecological issues. Whether reasoned or not, nuclear power had become the center of popular protests, while both the Moscow ministries and Kiev party leadership (but not Ukrainian ministries or the Central Committee of the all-union party organization) were held to blame for the lamentable state of affairs. By March 1989, Shcherbak had been elected to the Congress of Peoples Deputies on an almost exclusively ecological platform, and subsequently he was nominated to the U SSR Supreme Soviet, where he became chairman of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Ecology. Ecology, then, had become politicized; but what effect did this have on Z elenyi svit as an organization? In late October 1989, when Z elenyi svit held its founding congress, the intricate maneuvering of Shcherbak to avoid formalizing a political identity for the orga­ nization became apparent. Earlier in the year, a draft statute had been issued which noted the formation of a Green Council, the availability of membership to all organizations, and the nonpolitical nature of the movement. In his major speech to the Congress, Shcherbak pointed out that the archaic structure of Ukrainian industry remained in place. A change in thinking had to come, first from the Soviet government, and second, from the Ukrainian government, but in his view the only real solution was the granting of economic sovereignty to Ukraine within a reformed federation of Soviet republics. This would end, once and for all, what Shcherbak called the hegemony of the colonialist, monopoiist and rapacious all-Union ministries and associations, which has been the main cause of the current ecological demise of the republic. Shcherbak also declared that the right of citizens to live in an ecologically safe environment be made an article of a revised Ukrainian Constitution.16 It should be noted, however, that in this speech Shcherbak was hardly adopting the most radical course of action. T h e formula of a sovereign Ukraine in a revised Soviet federation echoes the current Ukrainian party line, in contrast to other unofficial associations which support a Ukraine that is not only economically but also politically independent, however distant such a goal may seem. Nevertheless, the patriotic content of the speech seemed to elevate Z elenyi svit to something more than an informal association. Shcherbak was evasive on the political question. With representatives of various Green parties in the meeting hall, he declared

The Greening o f LJkraine


that the association was ready to cooperate with anyone concerned about the fate of Ukraine, including the Ukrainian Communist Party, Rukh, Ukrainian government and nongovernment organizations, the Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, and Roman Catholic churches, and the Jewish, Turkic and Buddhist communities, because ‘ ecology must be placed above economics, above all political dogma and myths.” Having made such a sweeping statement, he then wavered on the question of creating a separate Green Party. An account in the Kiev newspaper Radians’ka Ukraina in November 1989 noted that there were three possible paths for the association to take. T h e first was to become a voluntary association of various groups united in the struggle to avert an ecological crisis. T h e second was to become a branch of the worldwide Greenpeace association. T h e third was to found a Green Party of Ukraine, similar to the Green Party in the Federal Republic of Germany. Shcherbak supported the idea of a Green Party that would operate in conjunction with the Ukrainian Communist Party— i.e., its members would be able to hold dual membership of both parties because the Green Party would espouse no ideological doctrine and its platform would be dictated purely by ecological issues. Shcherbak, at this juncture, decided to leave the question open. Some of the delegates, however, were more forthright. Andrii Hlazovy, a correspondent for Radians’ka Ukraina, declared that: “T h e fact of the matter is that we feel the time has come to set up a party on the basis of the ideology common to all the Greens in the various countries of the world in order to work more effectively for the implementation of our principies in everyday life.” 17 In short, Hlazovy was advocating the formation of a Green Party that could immediately begin working on a platform for the elections to be held in Ukraine in the spring of 1990. Even Shcherbak did not rule out this possibility and commented on the success of the German Greens in elections (in fact, the association was refused permission to advance candidates in the March 1990 elections).18 T h e most acute problem facing Zelenyi svit was the seeming impossibility of separating ecological and political issues. Its very policies— opposition to all-Union control over Ukrainian industry— were political by nature. Shcherbaks electoral success in 1989 owed everything to his stand on ecological issues. Clearly, the Ukrainian public has taken a stance on this subject. In its attacks on the bureaucracy, and in its unceasing opposition to the nuclear power program, Zelenyi svits policies have sometimes seemed similar to those of Rukh , which also had decided not to become a separate political party, in opposition to the Communist Party of the Ukraine, but rather to act as a sort of umbrella organization. In both cases, the predicament has arisen partly because of the relatively backward development of the processes of glasnost in the Ukraine. A repressive party organization in Kiev made life very difficult for unofücial associations. Shcherbak appears to have laid his personal stamp on the organization of Zelenyi svit. Diplomatic by nature, he has been determined insofar as possible to conduct the associations activities in a manner that is neither inflammatory


Perestroika from Below

nor provocative. Such an approach should not be attributed to timidity— indeed Shcherbak has spoken out bitterly at times, against both the Ukrainian premier Vitalii Masol, and president of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Valentina Shevchenko, even demanding their resignations. Rather his fear is of anarchy developing in Ukraine, of the breakdown of law and order. W hile noting that Ukraine has no such traditions, Shcherbak is essentially a pragmatic parliamentarian, characterized by a careful, thoughtful, non-confrontational approach. Even the Green Party is not anti-communist. It cannot be compared, for example, to the Ukrainian Republican Party, with its openly political, separatist program for a non-communist, capitalist and totally independent Ukraine.19 Thus progress for the association has been slow, but nonetheless effective. Furthermore, by the spring of 1990, events suggested that the ecological movement had begn to have repercussions at the highest levei. T h e Ukrainian Supreme Soviet devoted an entire session to ecology in February, and published a decree as a result. Most of the debate focused on the effects of Chernobyl, which has remained the most divisive and compelling issue. At this time, thirty members of Z elenyi svit, including chairman Shcherbak, affixed their signatures to the founding of a Green Party, and the latter was established formally on April 26, 1990 (the fourth anniversary of Chernobyl). T h e draft statute of the Green Party emphasized the importance of local decision-making on the establishment of any major industry; Ukrainian economic sovereignty and control over republican industry from Kiev rather than Moscow; and the need to prohibit nuclear power in Ukraine altogether, i.e., to halt the future construction program and to dismantle existing reactors.20 In conclusion, Z elenyi svit has remained a highly influential organization on the Ukrainian scene. It arose as a result of severe transgressions against nature in Ukraine, the most serious of which have been Chernobyl and the irrigation schemes. It attained prominence because it has been relatively simple for the public to equate the processes of ecological danger and concomitant sicknesses among the people, especially children. Shcherbak and others have pointed out the direct correlation between polluted areas and the high incidence of infant mortality, adult illness and premature death.21 In the final analysis, Z elenyi svit has been characterized by its careful leadership and its willingness to cooperate with the more Progressive element among the Soviet authorities, while stridently opposing what it perceives as archaic Moscow-based ministries that should no longer have a role in industrial decision making in Ukraine. At the same time it is, at the time of writing, moving slowly toward a collision with the Ukrainian party leadership simply because of the latter s fundamental resistance to change and the slowness with which it has responded to the need for economic and political reform. Several Ukrainian activists have commented that the winds of change in the republic in the present period have come from Moscow, rather than Kiev. Although Shcherbitsky (now deceased) has been replaced as leader by Volodymyr Ivashko, an evidently more flexible man, it remains to


The Greening o f Ukraine

be seen whether any authentic change has occurred at the very top. Zelenyi svit has drawn attention to important issues; it has been partly responsible for the declassification of much information about Chernobyl. It has been a positive and influential pressure group; it has begun its own newspaper, also called Zelenyi svit; but to date it has adopted a cautious policy, within the mainstream of Ukrainian political life.

Notes 1. See, for example, Sotsialisticheskaia industriia, (September 4, 1985); Tvarynnytstvo Ukrainy, 10 (October 1985); Ekonomika Radiam koi Vkrainy, 6 (1987); and Visnyk Akademii nauk URSR, 3 (1988). 2. J. Jovanovich, professor of physics, University of Manitoba, in a iecture at the University of Alberta (February 9, 1990). 3. See David Marples, “A retrospective of a nuclear accident,”

Report on the USSR

(April 20, 1990), 9 -1 4 . 4. David R. Marples,

The Social Impact of the Chernobyl Disaster (New York: St.

Martins Press, 1988), Chapter One. 5. On the problems at the Crimean nuclear station, see

Nauka i suspiPstvo, 9 (1989),

3 0 -1 . 6. See,. for example,

Pravda (October 20, 1989). Robitnycha hazeta (February 2 0 , 1990). 8. Rabochaia trybuna (February 21, 1990). 9. Zhovtnevi zori (newspaper of the Narodichi Raion party committee, Zhitomir Obiast, April 4, 1989). An update of the situation was provided in Zhovtnevi zori (February 24, 7.


Radians’ka Ukraina (August 2 2 , 1989). Chornobyl: dokumentaVna povist’ (Kiev: Dnipro, 1989). The book first appeared in issues 6 and 7 of the journal Iunost’ (1987). 12. The authors information about the early period of Zelenyi svit s development was 10.

11. Yurii Shcherbak,

gleaned from conversations with Yurii Shcherbak at the University of Alberta in May 1989, and in Kiev in June 1989. See David Marples, “Yurii Shcherbak: Portrait of a Ukrainian deputy,”

Report on the USSR, 1:23 (June 9, 1989), 2 8 - 3 0 .

13. Sviatoslav Dudko in a speech in Washington, D .C . (October 8, 1989). 14.

Ukraina, 6 (February 11, 1990): 22; Radians ka Ukraina (March 30, 1990).

15. This account is based on tape recordings of the speeches at the demonstration;

Vechirnii Kyiv (November 15, 1988); Prapor komunizmu (November 15, 1988); and Robitnycha hazeta (November 16, 1988). 16. Literaturna Ukraina, (Decem ber 14, 1989). Economic sovereignty in Ukraine took effect on January 1, 1991. 17.

News From Ukraine, 45 (1989). Rukh nor the Green Party received official registration in time to take part

18. Neither

in the March elections to the Supreme and local Soviets in the Ukraine. Instead, candidates took part under a general “ Democratic Bloc,” which was composed also of members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and Ukrainian Democratic Party, among others. The Bloc received about 25 percent of the seats in the new Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, though the


Perestroika from Below

overall results of the electiods are difficult to assess, given first of all the heavy representaiion of Communist Party members among candidates (85 percent), and the impossibility of determining how many of these members were “disaffected” and running on independent platforms. Shcherbak withdrew his own candidacy in disgust when the authorities also failed to register Z elenyi svit as a legitimate electoral contender. In a telegram to the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet, Shcherbak and Dmytro Pavlychko, Chairman of the Shevchenko Ukrainian Language Society, maintained that the failure to permit candidates to run for both these ofhcially registered associations was a violation of the electoral laws, was arousing mass discontent and threatening progress toward democracy in the Ukraine.

Literaturna Ukraina, (February 8, 1990). 19. Rabochaia trybuna, (May 12, 1990). 20. Z elenyi svit 1 (April 1990). 21. See, for example, Ukraine, 11 (1989), 11.

9 The First Independent Soviet Interest Groups: Unions and Associations of Cooperatives D a rre ll S lid er

A major qualification to past theoreticai arguments that the Soviet political system could be characterized by the term ^pluralist" was that what were referred to as “interest groups” lacked genuine autonomy from State and party organs.1 Organizafions such as the trade unions and the Komsomol, while they sometimes performed the role of representing the interests of special groups in the population, were highly penetrated by the party. Party members in these organizations (the “party fraction” ) were expected to show primary loyalty to the party, and all leading positions were held by party members. T h e party group was responsible for overseeing decisions made within each organization and was directly responsible to departments of the party Central Committee. W hile this supervision was at times lax, and the direction of the flow of information and influence was twoway, the party s dominance prevented organizations from playing a truly autonomous role. T h e party, through its nomenklatura system, also had the power to appoint and replace the leadership of these organizations, often bringing in party officials who had not risen through the ranks of the organization in question. T h e finances of these organizations were also closely monitored by party and State organs, and in some cases the operating budget carne out of party or state funds. T h e same inhibiting factors characterized professional associations such as the Union o f Writers, the Soviet bar, and the Film-makers Union. All of these

T he author wishes to acknowledge the support of several organizations that sponsored research for this chapter: the International Research and Exchanges Board supported the authors stay in the Soviet Union in the spring and summer of 1989; some initial research on the topic was made possible by a Title V III grant from the Hoover Institution, and a Carnegie Fellowship at the Center for EastWest Trade, Investment, and Communications at Duke University (headed by Jerry Hough) facilitated its completion.



Perestroika from Below

professional associations were created-as a result of party policy, and their goals and operating procedures-were worked out under the direct supervision of party authorities. Under Gorbachev, many of these groups became relatively more autonomous. There was a change of leadership, and the selection of leaders became more democratic.2 Nevertheless, party supervision of their activities and budgets remained in place. Similar limitations characterized most social organizations and movements in Eastern Europe, though there were occasional exceptions: the Catholic Church and Solidarity in Poland, and independent movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia that contributed to the Soviet decisions to send in troops in 1956 and 1968. T h e onlv truly independent organizations in the Soviet Union were dissident groups, and they were forcibly suppressed by the regime. Associations and unions of cooperatives, mostly created “from below,” represent one of the first successful attempts to create new organizational forms that conform to the definition of interest groups as it is applied in the West. These grass-roots groups began to form in the one legal sphere of the economy independent of party and state control: the cooperative sector.5 Cooperatives, one of the first visible results of Gorbachevs economic reforms, were mostly small enterprises in such areas as Services, construction, and consumer goods production. They were in many ways indistinguishable from private enterprises: cooperative enterprises were for the most part outside of the system of central planning, and they had to show a profit to survive. Cooperatives were also relatively isolated from party control. First, many cooperatives were too small to have a party organization. As a result, party members had to be registered elsewhere, which attenuated party control over decisions made by the cooperative.4 Second, ideological hostility to cooperatives from some conservatives prevented the party from establishing a foothold within the cooperative movement. By 1988 the cooperative movement had achieved enough of a criticai mass that there began to appear the first associations of cooperatives— organizations designed to represent the interests of their members. T h e legal basis for the creation of these new associations became explicit with the adoption in June 1988 of the Law on Cooperation. T h e law devoted a lengthy article to the voluntary creation of unions or associations of cooperatives at all territorial administrative leveis (from the district to the country as a whole) and by sector of economic activity. From this document it was clear that the purpose of the associations was to serve as spokesmen for cooperatives. T h e associations were supposed to “ represent their interests to the appropriate state and other organs.” T h e cooperative unions were also expected to perform the task of defending the rights of cooperatives.5 Several provisions of the law enhanced the independence of these new bodies from state organs: the charter (ustav) of the association did not have to be registered with state authorities, and the associations were given the status of a legal entity from the moment the charter was adopted by an assembly or congress of delegates.

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


T h e financing of these organizations was also independent of state agencies, and was based on dues paid by cooperatives that chose to become members of the association. Cooperative associations and their leaders were not answerable to anyone except the members of the association. T h e motivation for joining together in associations at first was not strong, since cooperatives were by nature highly independent and because those having the most in common were sometimes in direct competition with one another.6 Many cooperative chairmen feared that the result of forming a union or association would be yet another bureaucracy that would try to encroach on their freedom, only this one would be created literally at their expense. As a result, some of the early associations of cooperatives sought to eam their own way and limited their functions to informational or commercial activities— issuing newsletters and handbooks, for example, or pooling resources to provide short-term loans and to help with supply problems. This was the role played by one of the first cooperative unions, formed in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny in early 1988. T h e union was not formed to provide a counterweight to local authorities, in fact it was created with the assistance of the deputy chairman of one of the city s district soviets.7

Cooperatives Coalesce in Self-defense Over the course of 1988 and 1989, however, it became increasingly evident that policy toward cooperatives was being made by agencies that sought to circumscribe their activities, often in ways that undermined the provisions of the law on cooperatives and that threatened the very future of the cooperative movement. T h e chief motive for joining together in associations was to play a more direct political role and stand up for the rights of cooperatives. This was true both at the national and the local leveis. One of the clearest examples of this occurred in late 1987 in Yaroslavr, where city officials prohibited business dealings between cooperatives and state enterprises and froze the bank accounts of cooperatives with the argument that their activities “worsened the inflationary process.” These actions led Yaroslavr cooperatives to band together in a union in early 1988 as a means of self-defense.8 Similarly, one of the first acts of the R S F S R Union of Associated Cooperatives was to address an appeal to the Supreme Soviet and the Procuracy to “bring all normative acts and instructions of committees and departments” into line with the Law on Cooperation.9 In some cases, the activities of whole categories of cooperatives were directly threatened by govemment policies, and such cooperatives saw benefits in creating specialized associations. Both at regional and national leveis, cooperatives organized themselves also according to the “sectoral” principie. Sectoral unions were set up by cooperatives in scientific research, health care, insurance, agriculture, construction, and other sectors.10 T h e most important cooperative associations, however, were designed to represent the interests of all cooperatives in a particular region. T h e fact that no govemment agency had to sanction the charter of a cooperative


Perestroika from Below

association meant that tfifere soon arose. a number of organizations with competing claims to represent the cooperatives of a particular region or sector. In Kazakhstan, for example, two separate unions were formed, both claiming to represent the republics cooperatives.” A number of factional struggles accompanied the creation of these organizations, and the congresses called to found the organizations were often marked by heated debates and hostile exchanges.52 Disputes centered on a number of questions about representation on decision-making bodies, on the proper function of associations (commercial. political, or both), and whether they should have a paid apparat or a minimal staff of volunteers, Most of the unions that emerged took on a dual function, both political and commercial. T h e leaders of the new associations were typically chairmen of large cooperatives, and most continued to perform that role and were not paid by the association. A small paid staff carried out administrative and secretarial responsibilities. Member-cooperatives often provided equipment and space essential for the unions operations. Membership in cooperative unions and associations was far from universal. Most included as full-fledged members only a small portion of the total number of cooperatives in a given region. In Tàdjikistan, for example, the republic-level union included only 11 percent of functioning cooperatives.15 In Khar’kov oblast (province) in the Ukraine, a politicallv active union was able to attract only about 15 percent of the regions cooperatives despite dues set at a minimal 240 rubles per year.14 One of the earliest and subsequently most active cooperative associations was the Moscow Union of Cooperatives, founded after several attempts to create cooperative unions or clubs failed to include more than a few of the citvs cooperatives.15 During a raucous initial session in August 1988 that carne close to breaking apart over disputes on almost every item on the agenda, Andrei Fedorov— founder of one of the first and most famous of Moscow s cooperatives, the restaurant “ Kropotkinskaia 3 6 ” — was designated chairman. Fedorov favored a strong commercial emphasis in the work of the union and was able to convince the assembled delegates that this approach, which implied the need for a paid staff and significant membership fees, had the most merit. Over the next several months, other disputes over the charter and functions of the union were resolved by the board that had been elected at the first session, and Fedorov went on to "become one of the leading national figures in the cooperative movement.16 Republic-level unions of cooperatives were created in all republics by mid1989.17 Given the major political differences between Soviet republics and the widely different regional profiles of the cooperative movement, it is not surprising that the cooperative associations created in each republic differ greatly from one another in their structure, purpose, and degree of internai democracy. In some republics, cooperatives were slow to organize their own associations, and government agencies stepped in to “assist” the process. This, of course, reduced the potential for such associations to act as a counterweight to government agencies. In Tadjikistan,

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


the chairman of the union was not a chairman of a cooperative, but an official of the republic Council of Ministers. In Geórgia a substantial portion of the delegates to the first cooperative congress (about one-third) were district government officials, and many of the cooperative chairmen participating in the congress were chosen by local officials.18

Attempts at National Unity By mid-1989 there were several organizations that claimed to represent the nations cooperatives or at least a significant share of thern. One of the first organi­ zations to arise that included representatives of cooperatives from different regions was convened by cooperative leaders in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny. Called the “ Interregional Cooperative Federation,” it first met in May 1988 and was formallv constituted in August, At the beginning, it included delegates from cooperatives in 14 cities in Sibéria, the Urais, and central Rússia. By early 1989 the group claimed to represent over 5,000 cooperatives from 59 cities, including some from Central Asia and Belorussia. T h e group had a radical political orientation, anti-bureaucratic and pro-market, and was headed by the founder of the Bukharin Political C lub.19 Another organization, which grew out of the Naberezhnye Chelny group, was created at the beginning of 1989 and called itself the R S F S R Union of Cooperatives. W hen this union held its second congress in Leningrad, city officials tried to prevent the meeting from taking place, claiming that the R S F S R Council of Ministers had decided that a founding conference for a R S F S R Union of Coop­ eratives would be held in Moscow and followed by a first congress.20 By the time of its second congress, in February 1989, the organization included representatives from 38 provinces with 18,000 cooperatives. A third group, Rossiia, was organized in October 1988, and it was the first to claim “all-Union” status. T h e association was said to represent around 3 ,500 cooperatives by June 1989. T h e association set up a number of commercial Services for its members and brought a legal cooperative under its wing to provide legal help to members.21 In early 1989, a fourth group headed by V. Sorokin, a successful chairman of a Moscow-based cooperative, set up the U SSR Union of Cooperatives in the Sphere o f Production and Services, an organization that claimed to represent 21,000 cooperatives at its founding.22 All of the above-mentioned organizations included as members both associations of cooperatives and individual cooperatives. Part of the motivation behind the creation of these groups was to prevent the cooperative movement from being taken over by government officials, who appeared to be encouraging the formation of a docile union that would keep cooperatives in line. They were also influenced by a deep hostility to any attempt to create a “ ministry for cooperatives” in the form of a union. None of these organizations attempted to represent all cooperatives; only those that joined voluntarily were represented, and the number of members from some republics was negligible.


Perestroika from Below

The National Union o f Associated Cooperatives T h e first serious effort 'to create a truly comprehensive, national association of cooperatives was launched at the beginning of 1989. T h e organizing committee, made up largely of representatives of regional and republic cooperative organizations, began meeting in January and February and prevented a split in the movement by inviting Sorokin and his deputy to participate.23 T h e founding congress of the new union, designated the '‘Union of Associated Cooperatives” (soiuz obuedinennykh kooperativov or SO K , to use the Russian acronym), took place at the beginning of Julv 1989.24 T h e congress was held with the blessing of the government, but fears that the new association would be a tool of the bureaucracy were quickly dispelled. Aleksandra Biriukova, deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers and a candidate member of the Politburo, attended the opening session with two of her aides, but played only a ceremonial role in the proceedings. She left shortly after giving some opening remarks that were politely received by the assembled delegates. Most speakers at the congress were united in their reading of the problems facing the cooperative movement: ministerial regulations that undermined their operations, high and arbitrary tax rates, and extortion by local government officials. Difíerences of opinion were mostly on the functions and structure of SO K that paralleled earlier debates on cooperative unions. Prior to the meeting a draft charter for the new association was widely publicized.25 Attempts to achieve a consensus in support of the draft were to no avail, and a committee was selected to rewrite the document and present alternate versions for consideration by the congress as a whole. Representaiion at the congress was based on delegations from each republic.26 Republic delegates sat together during the sessions; in some cases, republic del­ egations met in caucus to decide how to vote on particular questions. One controversial issue was how unions and associations of cooperatives would be represented in SO K. T h e smaller republics wanted one-republic, one-vote procedures, along with a veto power over important policy decisions. T h e Latvian delegation was by far the most radical of those participating in the congress. It carne close to walking out over the issue of the representation of republic versus sectoral unions of cooperatives on the unions council. Latvian and other Baltic delegates feared that most sectoral associations would be centered in Moscow and give control over the union to this group of cooperatives at the expense of the republics. T h e Latvians (the delegation also included Russians who agreed with this position) pushed for representation only of republic unions, one vote per republic, and veto power over important policy questions. Ultimately the decision that was reached permitted sectoral associations to be represented on the council, though with fewer votes than the republics. Latvian delegates were also concerned about the role the all-union organization would play in attempting to create a national policy on cooperatives. Many

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


delegates, objecting to harsh tax policies adopted in their republics, sought to return power to the center on tax matters. Since conditions for the creation of cooperatives were most favorable in Latvia, the Latvian delegation feared that a new national policy would undercut the gains they had won at home. Perhaps the most important result of the founding congress was the selection of a group of leaders. T h e choice of leaders soon made it clear that SO K would not be used to “tame” the cooperative movement. Chosen as president was Vladimir A. Tikhonov. Tikhonov, a radical economist who had long championed private agriculture, was generally recognized as the chief author of the law on cooperatives and an important defender of their interests. He had also been chosen a Peoples Deputy of the U SSR and was already an influential member of the Supreme Soviet.27 Tikhonovs candidacy was discussed well before the congress by leading members of cooperative unions, though it appeared to come as a complete surprise to Tikhonov, who was present during the sessions but did not even have delegate credentials needed to vote on issues debated at the meeting. Two vice presidents were elected at the congress on the basis of strong speeches they had made on the needs of the cooperative movement. They were Yuri Vorontsov, a doctor and professor who had resigned a prestigious academic post to become the head of a medicai cooperative, and the controversial Artem Tarasov. In the months that followed, the leadership of the union was expanded to include heads of republic-level cooperative unions that were members of SO K. Artem Tarasov was already well known in the Soviet Union for his eloquent defense of cooperatives in several interviews on Vzgliad, the most popular Soviet television program. He was thrust into the national spotlight because of the controversy surrounding Tekhnika, the cooperative he had founded in Moscow. T h e cooperative sold Computer hardware and software to state enterprises and organizations along with programming assistance, and charged prices lower than those charged in the state sector, where such goods and Services are generally not available in any case. Tekhnika became a center of controversy for two reasons. First, the activities of the cooperative were extremely profitable and involved millions of rubles. This drew the attention of local finance officials, particularlv when it was reported that one of Tarasov s aides had paid party dues (a small fraction of income) in the amount of 9 0 ,0 0 0 rubles. Second, the cooperative got in trouhle over the source of hard currency used to purchase computers abroad— raw materiais, scrap metal, and other material discarded by state enterprises that it had purchased for rubles. T h e outcome of these investigations and considerable harassment by local officials was to bring the activities of the cooperative to a virtual halt.28 As a result of his own experiences with the bureaucracy, Tarasov became an outspoken critic of government and party policy toward cooperatives. T h e views of the national cooperative leadership and the interests of the cooperative movement in general were given greater exposure through the creation of an official organ for SO K , the weekly newspaper Kommersant, (the name is taken taken from a pre-revolutionary Russian newspaper, and means “the busi-


Perestroika from Below

nessman”) which began to appear aUthe end of 1989. It rapidlv became one of the most popular newspapers in Moscow.29

The Role of Cooperative Associations in Policy-making At the national levei, the Union of Associated Cooperatives (SO K ) sought to influence policv through discussions with leading economic policy-makers beginning in late 1989. SO K leaders met with Leonid Abalkin, the head of the economic reform commission and deputy chairman of Council of Ministers, in November to discuss the role of cooperatives in the economy and the creation of free economic zones.30 Talks between a SO K commission and representatives of the Ministry of Finance began in March 1990 after the minister of finance proposed such discussions in a speech before a specially called SO K congress in February. T h e cooperative representaiives sought to influence new tax regulations, and SO K was promised the opportunitv to review such regulations before they were issued to local finance organs.31 In the early part of 1990 SO K leaders participated in discussions over the draft of amendments to the law on cooperatives prepared by the Council of Ministers’ economic reform commission. Cooperative officials also entered into direct contact with other govemment agencies, including the Ministry of the Interior.32 This role in policy making was formalized in July 1990 when the Council of Ministers adopted a resolution that provided for a permanent presence by the Union of Associated Cooperatives (along with several other new “social organizations”) at sessions of the Council of Ministers, its Presidium, and in other working bodies of the government.33 T h e decentralization of much policy-making to the localities resulted in local officials taking steps that at times violated the law on cooperatives and other guarantees adopted in Moscow. Unions of cooperatives acted to defend their interests by lodging protests with both local and national agencies. At times, they also mobilized broader and more militant support for their cause. T h e Moscow union, for example, organized a public rallv in September 1989 to protest tax policy toward cooperatives, and its leaders even threatened a strike by cooperatives in the city.34 In late 1989, the Moscow city soviet adopted a set of policies under the guise of “ restoring order” to the activities of cooperatives in the capital. Among the provisions were a freeze on registering new cooperatives and an increase in auditing of all cooperatives in Moscow by local financial and government officials. A limit of 30 percent was placed on the share of employees that could be hired on a contract basis. Plans were announced to shut down cooperatives involved in certain activities, even though bans of this sort were only within the competence of republiclevel officials. T h e Moscow Union of Cooperatives began an active campaign to have the new regulations reversed or suspended, and vowed to sue local authorities for damages that resulted from any cooperative being closed down.35

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


Similarly, the delegation of control over cooperatives to the republics allowed some associations at that levei to have a real impact on important policy questions. T h e single most important issue that arose in 1989 was the working out of tax rates for cooperatives. As a result of a Politburo decision in February 1989, the tax rates for cooperatives were to be set at the republic levei, rather than in Moscow. By the time the republics got around to setting these tax rates (M ayJune), associations of cooperatives had been established in most republics. T h e role played by these associations in working out the tax rates varied greatly, as did the tax policies that emerged from the process. In general, unions were most influential in republics that had undergone the most rapid growth of unofficial political movements. In spite of the fact that the governments involved had been formed under the old system, many sought in this new environment to present a style of leadership that was more consultative and responsive. T h e influence of cooperative leaders was greatest in Latvia. There the republic Council of Ministers gave four groups the task of preparing alternate versions of the tax regulations. It was the draft worked out by a group of scholars and representatives of cooperatives that formed the basis for the regulations eventually adopted by the Latvian Supreme Soviet. A unique provision of these regulations gave unions of cooperatives the right to participate in the process by which local soviets give tax breaks to specific cooperatives.36 In Lithuania, nine versions of the decreé were considered by a working group that prepared the final draft, and this group included representatives of the cooperative union.37 T h e participation of cooperative unions in Latvia and Lithuania helps explain why tax rates for cooperatives in these republics were among the lowest, from 5 to 25 percent of net income. T h e Belorussian decree was also reportedly drafted with the partic­ ipation of scholars and representatives of cooperatives, though the resulting rates were somewhat less favorable than in the Baltic.38 In Azerbaidjan the finance ministry at first prepared a draft (described by the cooperatives as “designed to strangle the cooperative movement”), and the coop­ erative union submitted its own draft to the republic Council of Ministers. Ultimately, a working group made up of both groups was created and a compromise version was drawn up that satisfied some of the complaints of cooperative officials.39 T h e R S F S R , Ukraine, and Uzbekistan did not publish a draft tax plan, and the drafting process was veiled in secrecy. Evidently in these republics, as elsewhere, the draft was prepared primarily by the republic ministries of finance, and there was no opportunity for cooperatives to influence the process. In Armênia, the proposed tax rates were disclosed in an article by the minister of finance in midJune, and this was the first word that cooperatives heard about the new tax system. T h e “discussion” that followed resulted in no changes in the tax rates.40 In Estônia, cooperative officials were likewise left out of the process of writing the tax code, though the rates and policies that resulted were relatively favorable compared to those formulated in other republics.41 T h e committee that drafted the regulations in Geórgia was weighted heavily with deputy ministers of a number of republic-

Perestroika from Below


levei ministries and state committees* and the cooperatives were not represented in the discussion. T h e result was a tax law with extremely high rates (up to 80 percent in some categories).42 O f the Central Asian republics, only Kirgizia gave a formal role to cooperative representatives in working out a preliminary draft for discussion, though few changes were made in the decree that was later adopted by the presidium of the Supreme Soviet. T h e working including specialists from the of the cooperative movement. of the contested points.43 In

group that prepared that draft had twenty members, State committees, scholars and two representatives Republic finance officiaís appear to have won most Turkmenistan, the finance ministry prepared the

draft, which was then sent for approval to the union of cooperatives, the Ministry of Justice, and the State Committee on Labor. Here, too, the tax rates adopted were in some cases confiscatory.44

Alliances, Elections, and Legislative Influence In light of the increasingly large financial resources at the disposal of cooperatives, they represent a potentially important force in the future of Soviet politics as it becomes more pluralist in nature. T h e political ties of cooperatives have been strongest with proponents of radical change in the existing system, in part due to the essential role of cooperatives in creating a market economy. One of the most controversial and unexpected links of this sort was developed in early October 1989, when leaders of the cooperative movement sought to work together with striking workers. Tarasov and Tikhonov traveled to the coal-mining region of Vorkuta to meet with the city strike committee there. T h e result of the meeting was a formal agreement between the strike committee and SO K. T h e two organizations agreed to work together to support the program of the interregional group of deputies in the Supreme Soviet (the group of progressive deputies founded by Sakharov, El'tsin, Popov, and Afanasev) and to put forward their own candidates for the legislature from the mines and cooperatives. T h e most controversial provision in the agreement committed the union to “ review the question of assigning funds of the U SSR Union of Associated Cooperatives to support the just struggle of the miners of Vorkuta and other regions of the country for their rights.”45 In a talk with coal miners' representatives in November, Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov accused SO K of trying to use the workers' movement for its own ends and inciting workers to strike. Ryzhkov also was miffed at the enthusiastic response Vorkuta miners gave Tikhonov and Tarasov (“they carne close to hoisting them on their shoulders").46 At the local levei, cooperatives also acted in support of strike committees, a fact sometimes used by the party apparat in attempts to discredit the new movements. Cooperatives have helped to finance some activities of strike committees

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


and have also been represented on some of the committees. Strike organizers who had been fired from their jobs were Hired in some cases by cooperatives.47 Political activity by cooperatives has also been channeled into more conventional directions, such as organizing and financing political parties. In Minsk, in what may foreshadow the link between cooperatives and new political organizations, a number of cooperatives that produce items to remedy or monitor environmental problems announced plans to create an association that would use its funds to support the “green” movement in Belorussia.48 There has been serious talk among leaders of the cooperative movement about nominating their own candidates and even creating their own political party. T h e R S F S R Union of Associated Coop­ eratives, for example, set up at its founding conference a commission on “preparation for elections to republic and local soviets.” This process went furthest in Latvia, where a “ Political Union of Cooperators of Latvia” was formed. In the future, leaders of the organization intend to turn it into a political party that \Vill represent the interests of cooperative members and others who are employed outside of the state sector. T h e program of the group centers on support for private ownership of land and private ownership of the means of production.49 A conference designed to set up a Ukrainian party for cooperatives was held in Kiev in April 1990. T h e head of SO K , Vladimir Tikhonov, spoke at the conference and urged the group of assembled cooperative leaders to create a “party of free labor.” At the conclusion of the meeting, an organizing committee for the new party was named.50 No representatives of cooperative associations were brought into the Congress of Peoples Deputies under the provision of the election law allowing deputies chosen from “social organizations.” During the nomination process in January 1989, the electoral commission denied requests by the Rossiia association and the Union of Cooperatives in the Sphere of Production and Services to put forward candidates, with the argument that neither was “an all-union public organization with an all-union organ.” 51 Chairmen of cooperatives did run for seats in the national and local soviets, and by naming Vladimir Tikhonov as the president of SO K , cooperatives were guaranteed a voice in the Congress of Peoples Deputies and the Supreme Soviet. Artem Tarasov carne close to winning a race for the Congress of Peoples Deputies from Smolensk, despite a campaign against him orchestrated by the local party organization.52 In March 1990 Tarasov ran again, this time for the Russian republic Supreme Soviet, and won. A number of cooperative leaders in other republics also sought to become deputies. T h e chairman of the Union of Cooperatives in Kazakhstan and a handful of other representatives of cooperatives competed in the elections, though without success.53 T h e chairman of a district cooperative council won a seat in the Uzbekistan Supreme Soviet, and a lawyer from a legal Services cooperative won in Moldavia. T h e largest number of cooperative rep­ resentatives— four— were elected in the Ukraine.54 Many cooperative associations focused their attention on contests for local soviets, a key link in the implementation and making of policy on cooperatives. In the Russian city of Ivanovo, 16 of the


Perestroika from Below

deputies to the soviet wêre from cooperatives. In Zhitomir oblast, the city of Brest (both in the Ukraine), and the Kaliningrad district of Moscow, cooperative chairmen were selected to head local soviets.55 In addition to running their own candidates, cooperatives have gained a voice in policy-making bodies bv providing electoral support for candidates who appeared sympathetic to their interests. In the first competitive elections for the Congress of Peoples Deputies, in March 1989, cooperatives played a significant role in supporting the campaigns of several candidates, There were no restrictions on how much help candidates could get from enterprises, cooperatives, or groups of their supporters. Monev, manpower, and printing/reproduction capabilities were crucial in some cases to advertise a candiaacy and make the candidates positions known.56 T h e law on elections for the Russian republic, adopted later, established strict prohibitions on outside support for candidates, and a constitutional amendment for the country as a whole instituted centralized funding for campaigns.57 In practice, however, the central financing system worked poorly, and most candidates took advantage of whatever resources were available to them. T h e closest allies of cooperatives in the U SSR Supreme Soviet were radical reformers, including many members of the inter-regional deputies group.58 Sensitive to the complaints by leaders of cooperatives, these allies led the Supreme Soviet to examine the question of taxes adopted by the republics in m id-1989. Ultimately, some of the highest tax rates adopted were rescinded when the U SSR Supreme Soviet adopted an overall ceiling of 35 percent for most types of cooperatives in August 1989. In the course of later debates over cooperatives, their opponents, including most prominently Ivan Polozkov, accused deputies who defended cooperatives of being part of a “cooperative lobby.” This led them to demand the first roll-call vote in the history of the Supreme Soviet in order to force deputies to record their votes on a resolution on trade cooperatives adopted in October 1989.59 Later charges appeared in the newspaper Sovetskaia Rossiia, which often had been a mouthpiece for conservative political forces, that leading supporters of cooperatives in the Supreme Soviet had lucrative and undisclosed ties to cooperatives. Anatoly Sobchak, one of the best known and most outspoken deputies and a law professor from Leningrad, was singled out for attack on the basis of several hundred rubles he earned from a legal cooperative he helped found, which rendered advice to enterprises.60 Deputies to the Congress of Peoples Deputies also alleged that cooperatives paid off journalists to present a favorable image of their activities.61

Independent Trade Unions for Cooperatives Because of the role of Soviet trade unions as the distributor of a wide range of social benefits, including pensions, the question of trade union membership for cooperative employees arose very early. In July 1987, the Secretariat of the AllUnion Central Council of the Trade Unions (V T sSP S) ruled that members of

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


cooperatives should join existing sectoral trade unions in their area of activity.62 Social security contributions were paid by cooperatives to these organizations, but the members received none of the usual benefits of trade union membership, such as the right to use vacation homes on the Black Sea and elsewhere. W hen cooperatives formed their own associations in 198 8 -1 9 8 9 , they began to propose that trade unions be set up specifically for cooperatives. T h e V T sSP S belatedly attempted to coopt this effort by helping to organize a new trade union for cooperatives under its aegis, but their attitude toward cooperatives in general, which was highly criticai, made it unlikely that the leadership of the cooperative associations would go along.63 T h e sentiment within the cooperative movement, expressed already at the republic congresses of cooperatives, favored creating trade unions independent of the national trade union organization— a version of Solidarity for cooperative employees. Oblast-\eve\ meetings were held from August to October 1989 in the Russian republic to select delegates for a convention to found a trade union, and the discussions that took place at these meetings illustrated the depth of hostility toward the official trade unions.64 T h e Russian republic convention, held in Leningrad in late November 1989, was marked by a transparent effort by the V T sSP S to take over the movement or at least force a split. An independent trade union, the “ R S F S R Trade Union of Cooperative Workers” was formed, receiving the support of about two-thirds of the delegates.65 T h e new trade union took the form of a confederation, with real power residing at the local levei. Delegates supporting the official union (about 35 of 254) walked out when the vote was taken and then boarded a bus for a hall reportedly rented by the V T sSP S, where they proceeded to organize a rival union, called the “ R S F S R Trade Union of Workers of Cooperatives.”66 T h e second trade union also declared itself independent of the official trade unions, but it had close ties to that body. T h e chairman of the new trade union, who formerly worked in the V T sSP S, indicated that the organization would cooperate with the official unions, but only on the basis of parity.67 In an effort to gain support, the officially sponsored alternative sought to differentiate itself from the V T sSP S by rejecting the principie of democratic centralism: all organs were to be elected from below, and decisions by “higher” bodies were recommendations, not orders that must be carried out. T h e structure and priorities (as well as expenditures) of trade union organizations at lower leveis were to be determined there, not by the central leadership. Similar processes were underway in other republics, though it is not always possible to determine the degree of independence from the official trade unions. A report from Kazakhstan indicated that cooperatives had formed an independent republic trade union called LJnity (a name perhaps chosen to be reminiscent of Solidarity) at the beginning of November 1989. An alternative trade union, apparently more willing to work with the official unions, was formed in late January 1990.68 In December 1989 cooperative officials in Tadjikistan formed their own trade union over the objections of the republic trade union organization. T h e

Perestroika from Below


ofncial trade unions, calling the new cooperative union an illegal “pseudo-union,” fírst unsuccessfully attempted to close its bank accounts and then created an alternative organization under ofíãcial union control.69 In January 1990 a “free and independent” trade union was proclaimed in Geórgia, though the republic trade union plaved a major role in its creation.70 A similar trade union was formed in Ukraine in February and in Armênia in March 1990.71 In Kirgizia, cooperatives created an independent trade union in April 1990, though again there was an effort to enlist the cooperation of the republic trade union council.72 T h e first steps toward creating a national trade union for cooperatives began in September 1989 with the formation of the All-Union Association of Trade Unions of Workers of Cooperative Enterprises. T h e organization was soon beset by internai divisions over whether individual cooperatives should have the right to set up their own pension funds. A year later the trade union moved its headquarters from Moscow to Donetsk.7’ Another attempt to create a national trade union was undertaken by SO K ofhcials who founded an All-Union Confederation of Trade Unions of Employees of Cooperatives and Other Forms of Free Enterprise. T h e organizing session was held in Kiev in May 1990, and it included representatives of all republics except the Baltic republics, whose unions decided to remain separate. In June, another conference was held in Zhitomir to inaugurate the confederation. A charter was drafted and approved, but not before delegations from Leningrad and Uzbekistan walked out in protest over the issue of independence from the official trade unions.74

Conclusion T h e rise of cooperatives and the cooperative movement has brought to the fore the interconnections between, and conflicting pressures caused by, Soviet political and economic reforms. T h e increasing pluralism of forms of economic ownership provided the basis for creating the fírst independent Soviet interest groups. Attacks from the public, the ministries, local soviets, the trade unions and elsewhere motivated chairmen of cooperatives to overcome their differences and create organizations to defend their interests. T he likely impact of continued decentralization of administrative Controls and of a reduction in the role of the party will be the proliferation of pressure groups in many other socio-economic sectors. Already underway are attempts to win increasing autonomy for those institutions and professional associations that have existed for many years under conditions of close party control. Cooperatives have a number of advantages in this type of activity. T h e sidebenefits for members of cooperative associations (commercial and legal advice, advertising, representaiion before agencies of local government), which Mancur Olson demonstrated are essential for most tvpes of collective action, are large enough to encourage a significant number of cooperatives to join. Benefits will increase in the future as trade unions for cooperatives, often closely tied to

Independent Soviet Interest Groups


cooperative associations, proliferate.75 Because cooperatives have at their disposal both money and concrete resources— including human resources, a large number of intelligent, energetic and capable leaders— they are capable of having an influence on politics both at the local and republic levei that far exceeds their numbers. As the political system opens up and becomes more democratic, the potential for such influence becomes even greater. T h e spring 1990 election of progressive soviets in a number of Soviet cities including Moscow and Leningrad vvill undoubtedly lead to an expansion in the cooperative sector and other forms of private ownership in those cities. As the number of private entrepreneurs increases, so will opportunities for political influence. O n the other hand, the role of independent cooperative associations in lobbying for their interests has caused enormous controversy. This is in part due to widespread public hostility to the activities of cooperatives, often viewed as unscrupulous “operators” who take advantage of shortages to reap huge profits. It is worth remembering that much of what in the West is accepted as good business sense is considered near-criminal “speculation” in the Soviet context. Charges that a legislator is “a tool of the cooperatives” have great resonance in the current Soviet political environment. In part, the hostility arises from the novelty of groups openly attempting to influence political decisions in an effòrt to defend their interests. Thus, the rise of autonomous cooperative associations and unions brought to the fore several new issues in Soviet politics. First, it raised questions about the role of money in the electoral process. Second, it drew attention to the role of lobbies and lobbyists in parliamentary decision-making. This activity won the enmity of political forces, including the ministries and conservatives within the party, who sought to maintain their rapidly disintegrating monopoly on power. Perhaps in an effort to gain some leverage over the activities of these new actors, the Council of Ministers in April 1990 proposed a “correction” to the Law on Cooperatives that required all unions and associations of cooperatives to pass through an offlcial registration process controlled by state organs. This provision was adopted by the Supreme Soviet in June 1990.76 It is unlikely, however, that this will erode the already significant influence over policy attained by cooperatives and their associations. How old and new political institutions handle the challenges presented by emerging political and economic forces such as the cooperative movement will determine much of the future direction of Soviet politics.

Notes 1.

The classic collection of articles exploring the interest group approach is H. Gordon

Skilling and Franklyn Griffiths (eds.), Interest Groups in Soviet Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. For some interesting insights into the debate on pluralism and its meaning for our understanding of Soviet politics, see the articles by Archie Brown, “ Pluralism, power and the Soviet political system: a comparative perspective/' and Jerry F. Hough, “ Pluralism, corporatism, and the Soviet Union," in Susan Gross Solomon (ed.),

Perestroika from Below


Pluralism in the Soviet Union: Essays in Honour of H. Gordon Skilling (St. Martins Press: New York, 1983). 2. The Film-maker s Union was one of the first organizations to have a truly democratic selection of its leadership; as a result Elem Klimov, whose films had previously been subject to heavy censorship, became chairman. 3. For a prescient discussion of the connection between economic and political pluralism, see Wlodzimierz Brus, “ Political pluralism and markets in Communist systems,” in Solomon (ed.),

Pluralism in the Soviet Union.

4. Cooperatives that were created with the sponsorship of state enterprises would not fit into this category, since members would still be registered with the enterprise party organization. 5. The Law on Cooperation was published in

Pravda (June 8, 1988).

6. One of the first calls for unions of cooperatives was made by the economist V. Korchagin, who later headed the association

Rossiia, in Ekonomicheskaia gazeta, 2 (January

1988), 19. 7. Sovetskaia Tatariia (July 8, 1988); Nedelia (August 29-Septem ber 4, 1988), 4; Moscow News 16 (April 24-M av 1, 1988), 9. 8. Sovetskaia Rossiia (February 21, 1988); Jzvestiia (March 30, 1988 and April 2, 1988); the new union succeeded in getting the YaroslavT officials to rescind its prohibition. Similar threats to cooperatives led to the creation of a “council of cooperative chairmen” in Perm. See

Moscow News, 22 (June 5 -1 2 , 1988).

9. The union was constituted in June 1989, and elected A.P. DemenPev chairman after he presented a detailed proposal for taxing cooperatives. Another of the first acts of the union was to issue a stronglv worded open letter to Gorbachev.

Pravda (July 15, 1989— on ínformatika Ekonomicheskaia gazeta, 42 (October 1988), 19 (on the medicai cooperative union); Sotsialisticheskaia industriia (November 30, 1989— on the construction cooperatives union); and Moscow News, 28 (July 9, 1989), 10. For more details on branch unions, see

the scientific and Computer programming union),

14 (on the Insurance cooperative union). 11. This led to a dispute over which should represent the republic at the founding congress of the national union of cooperatives discussed below. See the letter of protest by one of the Kazakhstan union leaders in

Izvestiia (June 28, 1989). Similar problems

also developed within the delegation from Armênia. 12. The author attended the founding sessions of the cooperative unions in Geórgia (June 9, 1989) and the Russian republic (June 1 6 -17, 1989), as well as the founding congress of the national Union of Associated Cooperatives held in the Hall of Columns in Moscow, June 3 0 —July 1, 1989. The same poor parliamentary etiquette that marked the first session of the Congress of Peoples Deputies— such as hostile applause to drive speakers from the podium— was frequently observed at these sessions. 13.

Kommunist Tadzhikistana (June 27, 1989).

14. Based on interviews with union officials in Khar’kov in June 1990. 15. For an interesting discussion of some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ politics surrounding the creation of the union, see the report by B. Iakovlev in

Vecherniaia Moskva (June 28,


Ekonomicheskaia gazeta, 34 (August Moscow News, 34 (August 28-Septem ber 2, 1988), 12; and Komsomolskaia

16. For accounts of the organizing session, see 1988), 10-11;


Independent Soviet Interest Groups

pravda (August 20, 1988). The board was selected by choosing three representatives from each of 33 Moscow regions.

Izvestiia (February 20, Sovetskaia Litva (November 30, 1988— on Lithuania); Pravda vostoka (May 14, 1989— on Uzbekistan); Sovetskaia Estoniia (May 19, 1989); Sovetskaia Belorussiia (June 7, 1989); Pravda (June 18, 1989— on the Russian Republic); and Bakinskii rabochii 17. Articles on the creation of republic unions appeared in

1988— on Latvia);

(June 27, 1989— on Azerbaidjan). 18. Based on material drawn from speeches at the founding session at the Georgian congress as well as interviews with participants. 19. The president of the group was Valery Pisigin. Naberezhnye Chelny had a reputation as a city where local officials actively supported the development of cooperatives. See

Sovetskaia Tatariia (July 8, 1988); Moscow News, 22 (June 5 -1 2 , 1988), and 5 (February 5 -1 2 , 1989), 5; Kommunist, 1 (January 1989), 2 1 -3 5 ; and Sotsialisticheskaia industriia (January 18, 1989). 20. City officials have a right to ban marches, demonstrations, and rallies but not conferences or other meetings held indoors, even “without permission.” On the second congress, see

Sotsialisticheskaia industriia (March 26 , 1989).

21. The group was headed by Victor Korchagin. One of the Moscow district party

Rossiia association from holding a congress there Sobesednik 25 (June 1989), 3. Korchagin was formerly an electrician who taught himself economics by reading Adam Smith and others. Sources on Rossiia include Trud (October 30, 1988); Sotsialisticheskaia industriia (November 5, 1988); Izvestiia (November 4, 1988); Sovetskaia torgovlia (May 4, 1989); and Sotsialisticheskaia industriia organizations attempted to prevent the in June 1989. See

(June 23, 1989). 22. On Sorokins organization, see 1989); and

Izvestiia (January 27 , 1989); Pravda (February 4,

Nedelm, 9 (1989), 7.

23. On the work of the organizing committee, see the article by its chair, A. Korobkin of the Moscow Cooperative Institute (under the jurisdiction of Tsenstrosoiuz, the organization

PraviteVstvennyi vestnik, 2 (January 1989), 8. See Izvestiia, (January 21, 1989 and February 9, 1989). 24. Accurate reports on some of the debates at the congress were published in Pravda (July 3, 1989) and Sotsialisticheskaia industriia (July 5, 1989). The word “ union” is

that directs consumer cooperatives), in also reports in

synonymous with “alliance” in Soviet usage, and does not designate trade or labor unions,

profsoiuzy. Izvestiia (May 23 , 1989).

which are called 25.

26. In several cases, the national congress was a major stimulus for republics to organize a republic-wide union in order to send a delegation to Moscow. 27. For a useful sketch of Tikhonovs career and his role in agricultural reform, see Don Van Atta, “Theorists of agrarian

perestroika,” Soviet Economy, 5:1 (January-M arch

1989), 8 4 -9 1 .

Moscow News, 9 (1989), 12, and Trud (July 1, 1989); and KomsomoVskaia pravda (May 13, 1989). Prior

28. Tarasov described the work of his cooperative in 12 (1989), 13;

to the all-union congress, Tarasov had been chosen a deputy chairman of the R S FS R Cooperative Union and was the author of a criticai open letter from the union to Gorbachev. Excerpts from the letter appeared in

Literaturnaia gazeta, 26 (June 28, 1989). Tarasov Gosarbritrazh in early 1990. See A rgumenty

was vindicated when his case was reviewed by

i fakty, 11 (1990).

Perestroika from Below


29. The nevvspaper is ako distributed abroad in an English-language version,


PraviteVstvennyi vestnik, 24 (November 1989), 5. 31. Kommersant, 11 (March 1990), 4. 30.

32. Cooperative representaiives in talks on amending the law on cooperatives included SOK vice-presidents Edwin Lerner from the Ukraine and M. Khurin from Kazakhstan. Based on interviews with SOK officials in June 1990. 33. See

PraviteVstvennyi vestnik, 27 (July 1990), 1. Other organizations given this right

were the Association of State Enterprises, the All-Union Economic Society, the Union of Leasees and Entrepreneurs, the Peasant Union, and the Scientific-Industrial Union. 34. T h e rally was not very successful.

Ekonomicheskaia gazeta, 39 (September 1989),

11 . 35. See

Moscow News, 3 (January 28-February 4, 1990), 4; KomsomoVskaia pravda Kommersant, 3 (January 1990),

(January 31, 1990); the text of the resolution appeared in

7; the spring 1990 elections brought a new city soviet led by the radical economist Gavriil Popov that immediately overturned the measures adopted earlier. 36. Based on an interview with a participant in the drafting process and one of the leading scholars on cooperatives in Latvia, Vladimir Gurov, May 30, 1989. 37. Speech by one of the participants who is also vice-president of the republic association of cooperatives, in

Sovetskaia Litva (July 8, 1989).

38. Interview with I. Makoed, republic deputy finance minister, in

Sovetskaia Belorussiia

(June 30, 1989). 39. T h e process of drafting the decree was discussed in

Bakinskii rabochii (June 20,

1939 and July 8, 1989). 40 . An angrv article from the deputy chairman of the cooperative union that protested the way in which the draft was prepared (as if finance officials “did not know about the existence of the Cooperative Union of Armênia” ) appeared in

Kommunist (Erevan), July

13, 1989. 41. Based on interviews with Estonian cooperative leaders in May 1989. 42 . Based on speech by Gegechkoria, the deputy minister of finance at the congress of Georgian cooperatives on June 9, 1989 and an interview with A. Guniia, a member of the committee and the head of the Georgian Academy of Sciences Institute for Economics and Law, on June 12, 1989. T h e Georgian draft regulations were published in


vostoka (May 25, 1989). 43 . T h e Kirgiz deputy minister of finance discussed the draft in an interview in

Sovetskaia Kirgiziia, (July 2, 1989). 4 4 . Article by the Turkmen deputy minister of finance in

Turkmenskaia iskra (July

14, 1989). 45. T h e union also promised to give space in its newspaper to strike committees, to try to supply the Vorkuta group with copying machines and computers, and to help miners sell their above-plan coal abroad in order to purchase needed consumer goods and medicai supplies. Tikhonovs and Tarasovs trip and some of the controversy it caused are discussed in

Izvestiia, which includes the text of the agreement (November 5, 1989); a dissenting

letter by other members of the presidium of the union (November 10, 1989); and a letter by Tarasov with commentary (November 15, 1989). 46. Pravda (November 19, 1989). 47. Interview with Victor Komarovskii, specialist on informal workers’ movements at the Institute for the International Workers Movement in Moscow, June 1990.


Independent Soviet Interest Groups

48. One of the cooperatives makes a dosimeter for Home use to monitor radiation leveis.

Sovetskaia Belorussia (July 16, 1989). 4 9 . A brief article by the deputy chairman of the union, V. Krisberg, appeared in

Ekonomika i zhizrí, 5 (January 1990), 3. 50. A brief article on the Kiev meeting appeared in

Ekonomika i zhizn, 18 (April

1990), 4. 51. A similar argument vvas used to prevent the Popular Fronts in various republics from having representatives named to the Congress. Cooperatives had been one of the types of social organizations guaranteed representaiion. See A rgumenty

i fakty, 1 (January

6 -1 2 , 1989), 2. 52. See

KomsomoVskaia pravda (May 13, 1989).

53. The union chairman, Mikhail Khurin, ran on a platform that called for a “ return to the principies of classica! capitalism.” See his interview in

KomsomoVskaia pravda (March Kazakhstanskaia pravda

23, 1990). Two other cooperative candidates were interviewed in (March 23 , 1990).

Pravda vostoka (April 21, 1990), and the Sovetskaia Moldaviia (March 2, 1990). The four Ukrainian

54. Uzbekistan results were reported in Moldavian results appeared in

winners were A. GoloborodTo from Kharkov, Ya. Zaiko from Zhitomir, B. Rebrik from Ivano-Frankovsk, and L . Taburianskii from Dnepropetrovsk. Two others representing “statecooperative associations” (M . Bashkirov and V. Lemish) were also elected. Based on the lists of winners published in

Pravda Ukrainy (March 13, 1990 and March 24, 1990).

55. Information from a presentation by íu. Khachaturov of the Council of Ministers commission on economic reform at a seminar held on the

Lev Tolstoi in June 1990.

56. Often the advertising took the form of primitive brochures or posters that were pasted to buildings, kiosks, bus stops, and lampposts. 57. See the interview with the head of the R S FS R central electoral commission in

Izvestiia (January 22, 1990). The amendment on campaign funds was adopted at the second Congress of Peoples Deputies. 58. Among those Supreme Soviet deputies who spoke in defense of cooperatives, in addition of course to V. Tikhonov, were Andrei Sakharov, Nikolai Travkin, and Anatoly Sobchak. 59. TASS report on the Supreme Soviet session of October 17, translated in FBIS Daily Report (October 18, 1989), 59. T h e opponents of cooperatives carne within only a few votes of banning cooperatives in the sphere of trade; the resolution that was adopted was a compromise that permitted the continued existence of trade cooperatives but placed restrictions on pricing and other aspects of their operations. Ivan Polozkov was elected to head the newly formed Communist Party of the Russian Republic in June 1990. 60. Articles debating the existence of a cooperative lobby and responding to charges

Sovetskaia Rossiia (February 25, 1990; March Moscow News, 10 (March 1 8 -2 5 , 1990), 11; and Izvestiia

levied against specific deputies appeared in 4, 1990; and March 8, 1990); (March 2, 1990).

Izvestiia (April 2, 1990). Trud (August 8, 1987).

61. See 62.

63. On the official trade unions’ efforts to “ help organize” the cooperative trade union, see the TASS interview with V.T. Ivanov, head of the organizational work department of the VTsSPS in

Izvestiia (August 4, 1989) and his interview in Trud (August 22, 1989).

Perestroika from Below


The attitude of the trade yhions toward cooperatives was expressed in a resolution adopted by the September 1989 plenum of the VTsSPS, “ On Distortions in the Cooperative Movement,” published in

Trud (September 9, 1989). T h e Moscow city trade union

organization went to the trouble and expense of organizing a rally against cooperatives at about the same time. 64. The first regional committee was set up in Leningrad at the end of July, and this session was attended by cooperative representatives from other areas of the country. The

FBIS: Daily Report (August 4 , 1989), 87. For a report on Sovetskaia Rossiia (September 24, 1989). 65. For an account of some of the issues debated at this meeting, see Sovetskaia Rossiia

TASS report was reprinted in

a lively meeting in Omsk see

(December 2, 1989). Named as chairman of the most independent union was V. Zaslavskii. 66. Interview with one of the organizers of the independent union, Sergei Truzhkov, in June 1990. 67. The text of the charter of the second union, along with a brief interview with V. Alafinov— the chairman of the Central Committee of the union— appeared in the official trade union newspaper

Trud (Decem ber 28, 1989).

68. The report on “ Unity” contained few details about the organization and focused instead on its ability to stand up for the rights of cooperatives against local soviets.

Izvestiia Ka-

(December 1, 1989). A brief announcement of the alternative union appeared in

zakhstanskaia pravda (February 3, 1990). 69. Kommunist Tadzhikistana (February 16, 1990 and March 30, 1990). 70. 7,aria vostoka (January 4, 1990). 71. Pravda Ukrainy (February 6, 1990); Izvestiia (April 3, 1990). 72. Sovetskaia Kirgiziia (April 2 5 , 1990). 73. Apparently the first mention of this association in the official press was an interview with the organizations vice-president, Vladimir Kozlov, in

Rabochaia tribuna (May 2,

1990). A new president, Iu. Pivovarov, was chosen in September. He also served as chairman of the Donetsk oblast cooperative trade union.

Trud (September 14, 1990).

74. Latvia attended the initial meeting, but only as an “observer.” The creation of the

Rabochaia tribuna (June 27, 1990). Information drawn from a presentation by Edwin Lerner at seminar on the cooperatives held in June 1990 aboard the Lev ToVstoi. 75. Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action, (Cambridge, M A: Harvard University organization was almost totally ignored in the official press. The one exception was

Press, 1965). 76. The new measures were discussed by an official from the Council of Ministers commission on economic reform in

Izvestiia (April 9, 1990).

10 Nationalism, Movement Groups, and Party Formation Paul A . Gohle

Nationalism increasingly dominates the Soviet political landscape, nowhere more forcefully than in the definition of new unofficial groups competing for power. Beneath their ever-growing numbers and daunting diversity, these groups have three things in common, each of vvhich reflects the power of ethnic identity under current conditions. First, each of them is limited to a particular republic or ethnic community. Second, each of them can be classed as an ethnic-based peoples front or an issue-based interest group. And third, both these categories are currentíy being subjected to pressures likely to convert them into genuine political parties, in the first case via the decay of ethnic alliances and in the second by the amalgamation of related interest groupings. Viewed in this way, the dramatic expansion and kaleidoscopic change of political groups in the republics represents the first stage of a new kind of party construction there. To explore this process in more detail, í have divided this essay into three parts. In the first, I look at those structural elements which have made nationality so central to Soviet political deveiopment in the Gorbachev era, examining in turn the way in which nationality was incorporated within the formal political structure and subsequently repressed by Stalin, exacerbated by social and political change prior to Gorbachev, and then raised to its current levei as an unintended consequence of Gorbachev s specific approach to the problem of nationalism. In the second, I consider the way in which these groups have arisen, the forces that have led some to become fronts and others issue groups, and the balances in each case between a variety of forces that are acting on the Soviet polity. And in the third, I look in more detail at those forces which are currentíy rransforming these two groups into political parties able to compete in a more open political system.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily thos«. of the Department of State or the United States Government.


Perestroika from Below


T h e Centrality of Nationality Many people both in the Soviet Union and abroad have been surprised by the upsurge of nationalist unrest and political activism in the Soviet Union over the past five years. They should not have been. T h e roots of the current crisis go deep, back to the first days of the Soviet system when Lenin and Stalin for admittedly diíferent reasons structured in nationality as the second major organizing principie of the Soviet State. Lenin believed that concessions to the nationalities were necessary both to keep the existing territory together and to serve as a springboard for the expansion of the socialist revolution into Europe. Stalin, on the other hand, saw the creation of the republics as a means by which an authoritarian political system could be constructed and maintained. Stalins calculation was as follows. Between 1917 and 1922, the Russian percentage of the popuiation of the country rose from 42 percent to over 60 percent. Simultaneously, the non-Russians became more assertive. By creating the republics, Stalin institutionalized a threat to Russian hegemony and thus created a challenge to Russians which drove them into an alliance with him. Moreover, by creating a set of pseudo-states in the union republics, States with all the attributes of independence except the power to act on it, Stalin hoped to guarantee that Russians would always be willing to repress the non-Russians and to accept repression visited upon themselves as the price of maintaining the empire. Stalins systemic thinking had yet one additional aspect that is seldom noted. His entire political system was based on politicizing and then repressing nationality so that the onlv cross-cutting institutions were the party, the secret police, and the army— institutions he believed the center could always control. Such arrangements appeared to him and his supporters as ruling out any form of ethnic politics— such a politics requires that ethnicity be not the only issue— and as guaranteeing the cohesion of the system.1 Such a system worked relatively well in a largely rural and underdeveloped country as the Soviet Union was in the 1920s and 1930s. But in the best Marxist tradition, the Soviet State became its own grave digger. By modernizing the country, urbanizing the popuiation, and equalizing opportunities for Russians and nonRussians, the regime unintentionally created both rising expectations for social and ethnic change and the conditions necessary to sustain demands for democratization by Russians and non-Russians alike. If Russian control was acceptable when many non-Russian nationalities lacked their own intelligentsias, it was insupportable when they acquired them. And if Russian control of the periphery worked to the benefit of the Russians for both psychological and economic reasons at an earlier state, it too became insupportable for the Russians as the costs of empire, including the denial of their own freedom, became ever more apparent.2 Consequently, the situation was becoming ever more explosive by the 1980s, confronting both the regime and the popuiation with an unpalatable choice between continued or even expanded coercion, with its near certain negative impact on

Nationalism, Movement Groups , and Party Formation


societal morale and economic development, and liberaüzation of the society, which risked its dissolution because of the way in which nationality had been structured in earlier. Two other characteristics of the Soviet political system worked to maintain the coercive arrangements that Stalin had designed. T h e first was the Soviet practice of requiring aspiring central leaders to serve an apprenticeship in the non-Russian republics as they moved up the latter. Prior to Gorbachev, every Soviet leader from Stalin to Chernenko had spent time in the republics, an experience which reinforced their understanding of the extent to which nationality must be repressed lest it represent a challenge to the system. T h e second was the demographic consequence of World War II. It effectively eliminated the generation born in 1920, thus allowing an earlier generation born ca. 1910 to remain in power without challenge for far longer. And this earlier generation increasingly refiected sociological experiences out of step with the vast majority of the new Soviet— Russian and non-Russian— intelligentsias. Taken together, these patterns meant that when change finally carne it would be both explosive and radical. Gorbachev is the personal embodiment of these changes. Born in 1931 and without experience in the republics, he carne to power as a Soviet man of the new generation. Lacking experience in the republics he attempted to launch a reform program which would have worked if the country had been mono-ethnic. And having experience as a member of the modern sector of Soviet society, a sector that increasingly saw that the absence of reforms and freedom was making economic and social progress impossible, he attempted reforms that his predecessors would have recoiled from either because of an understanding of nationality or because of their own lack of modern experience. For the first two years of his reign, Gorbachev acted as if nationality did not exist. Consequently the impact of his general policies on nationality affairs was all the greater because it was unintended. As I have argued elsewhere, Gorbachev launched five major policy initiatives, each of which had an unexpected (for him) impact on nationality relations: the reduction in coercion and the expansion of glasnost, de-ideologization and rationalization, detente in foreign affairs, economic reform with concomitant dislocation, and lastly, the use of elections to re-legitimize the system.3 As will be seen below, the last has been especially criticai in the development and evolution of unofficial political groups. But if Gorbachev thought he could approach Soviet society as an integral whole, nationalist assertiveness soon proved him wrong and forced him to adopt a variety of specific responses to it, ranging from the military to the economic to the political. Several of these have a direct impact on the subject we are considering here. First, Gorbachev agreed to end the party s constitutional monopoly on power, thus sparking the rise of altemative parties. Second, he called for the elaboration of a new union treaty, thus unintentionally suggesting that the Soviet Union no longer exists and must be reconstituted and thereby forcing the hand of many non-Russians into demanding far more than they actually wanted as part of a

Perestroika from Below


negotiation scenario. And third, he imposed the blockade on Lithuania, effectively recognizing it as a foreign* country even while insisting that it remains within the Soviet Union. This last action had the greatest impact of all in some ways because it radicalized opinion throughout the country. As a result, Gorbachev, who began with the assumption that he could largely ignore nationality, has been forced to focus on it far more than might othervvise have been the case. And because he understands the nature of nationality so poorly, he continues to do things that have the effect of heightening the centrality of nationality in the Soviet system and underscoring the conclusion that a liberal Rússia might be possible but that a significantly liberalized Soviet Union is a contradiction in terms. EFtsin and many Russian political activists understand this and appear willing to make concessions to the republics in order to save Russias future; Gorbachev has not yet come to this understanding, but his hand may be forced.

The Emergence of Unofficial Political Groups in the Republics Since 1985, the number and size of unofficial political groups in the Soviet republics has expanded at a dizzying rate. No one can say just how many groups there are at any one time, and any estimate is certain to be overtaken by events before it can be published. But the best Western and Soviet estimates suggest that there are thousands of small groups, hundreds of potentially large ones, dozens of currently large ones, and five that have already taken control of the republics in which they operate, with another two or three republics likely to have governments backed by unofficial groups by early 1991.4 With the precise number of groups very much up for grabs and with each choosing a title for itself that often refiects more wish than reality, we need to look beyond both the numbers and the self-identification to the basic structural features of the situation. Drawing on the Moscow-generated handbook on informal groups, Neform alnaia Rossiia , 1 will argue that virtually all these groups now fali into one of two categories: ethnic-based fronts (both non-Russian and Russian), and issue-oriented interest groups. With the exception of certain environmental groups, both are restricted to particular republics, and both have remarkably similar teleologies. Let us consider each in turn and then examine five variables in the various republics that are working to determine the relative position of each in a particular locale. As leaders of the peoples fronts have pointed out, the idea of such organizations was taken from party traditions and from Eastern European experience. By definition an umbrella organization for all members of a particular ethnic or territorial population, a peoples front basically addresses only a small number of questions, contains within itself the seeds of its own dissolution, and cannot be expected to

Nationalism, Movement Groups, and Party Formaiion


serve as more than a transitional organization. In the Soviet context, peoples fronts emerged first in the Baltic States as a means to promote the restoration of independence there; this organizational form then spread to more than 50 other regions, often with the direct help of the Baltic activists, who were convinced that only by transforming the other republics of the Soviet Union could they achieve their own goals.5 In yet another way, the Baltic fronts were a model for others. Their leaders explicitly announced that existing differences among themselves and their populations must be subordinate to the single overriding goal of independence. In other republics, that goal was sometimes transmuted to mean the achievement of local control of the government (autonomy) or even the expansion of political participation in the system, but in every case such fronts were íike fronts in Eastern Europe or elsewhere in an earlier time: they were necessarily fragile and likeíy to disintegrate once their primary goal had been achieved. (One consequence of this is that at least some in the fronts may want to put off as long as possible any suggestion that their goals have in fact been achieved, lest they lose out to other forces.) If the model peoples fronts are those organized by non-Russian groups in the republics, such groups are not limited to that half of the Soviet population. Russians, too, are organizing popular-front type groups to defend their interests. Known often as “ International Movements” or “ Interfronts,” such groups act in remarkabiy similar ways to the peoples fronts of other nationalities and are subject to the same transforming pressures. Indeed, they have been in every case a response to the formation of a non-Russian group and have copied the latter. W hile one might expect that such groups could form a union-wide alliance, that has not yet happened. But the impact of such groups is not limited to the republics in which they have appeared. Most important of all, they have served as a catalyst for the formation of Russian nationalist groups within the R S F S R itself— for the formation of Russian peoples fronts there which postulate the existence of a non-Russian threat to hold the fronts together. Issue-based groups are both more numerous and more familiar. Like the fronts, they generally tend to be limited to a particular republic— the environmentalists are the only exception— but they seek more narrowly defined goals, often of a single-issue type. Thus, they may arise to close a factory, to achieve better food supplies, to guarantee better public housing, or some other relatively specific cause. W hile it is perhaps not surprising that front groups should be ethnically based, that these are may seem counter-intuitive. Obviously many interests extend beyond ethnic and republic boundaries and could be most effectively advanced by interethnic alliances. In a very small number of cases— the ecological movement is the most prominent— such cooperation is in fact taking place, but even here the overwhelming majority of groups follow ethnic lines. Upon reflection, we should not be surprised. Virtually all institutions and particularly the media follow ethno-linguistic and ethno-territorial lines. Newspapers exist for republics and for language groups rather than for issue-based ones. Indeed,


Perestroika from Below

with the exception of sevferal specialist journals at the center and of a few newspapers like Trud (the official trade union daily), all Soviet publications follow these lines. Moreover, as power devolves from the center to the periphery, the action on an increasing number of issues is in the republics and not Moscow. Consequently, the existing pattern of ethnically restricted interest groups is likely to be maintained, something which by itself threatens the future of the Soviet system. Such a situation prompts an obvious question: could the situation we have sketched out be changed by the development of an alternative media system, one that was structured along functional rather than ethno-territorial lines? In principie, the ariswer might appear to be yes, but it is far too late. Moreover, the increasing importance of language as a valued ethnic marker, the difficulties the entire Soviet media system is facing, and long-standing patterns of interaction make any such shift problematic at best. Indeed, the appearance of any functional publications now would undoubtedly be viewed as an imperial grab by the largest group. T h e exact mix of fronts and groups varies from one republic to another depending on a wide variety of factors. Among the most important of these are the following: 1. T h e ethnic homogeneity of the population. In republics where the population is largely homogeneous, groups are more likely to emerge than fronts after the initial stage of democratization. And where fronts do exist, they are likely to be internally fissured because of the lack of an externai disciplining factor. In republics where the population is less homogeneous, fronts are likely to remain the more important formation, to be less internally fissured, and to serve as de facto political parties. 2. T h e historical tiadition of mobilization. Republics with an earlier democratic tradition are more likely to develop both kinds of groups than are those without such traditions. Those lacking such traditions are more likely to have elitist formations rather than mass parties, and these formations are likely to become de facto interest groupings regardless of their self-designation. 3. Divisive issues. Even more central to the pattern of fronts versus groups is the question of the basic issues agitating the elites and mass groups of the various republics. Where the issues are small in number— such as independence— fronts are the more likely type of organization. W here the issues are numerous, the reverse is true. This pattern imposes its own demands on the leaderships of these two categories of political activism. Front leaders are likely to insist that the single main goal is still not achieved and must not be compromised by division; interest group leaders are likely to argue that their specific demands are overriding. 4. T h e attitude of Communist Party officials. W hile the iníluence of the party is declining everywhere, its impact has not disappeared and the attitude of party officials is criticai to the pattern of group formation and development. In areas where party inffuence is low or where party leaders are permissive

Nationalism , Movement Groups, and Party Formation


either by default or by calculation, interest groups are more likely to develop than fronts, since the latter floilrish more readily where tnere is a single issue and a single opponent. Consequently, a permissive party strategy is more likely to defuse a nationalist challenge at least in its early stages. Later, the Party will instead exacerbate nationalist demands since it may be the only ethnically cross-cutting alliance left in some regions. 5. T h e shape of the electoral system. Curiously, Western observers and Soviet participants have given remarkably little attention to the details of the Soviet electoral system. But the shape of this system has determined not only electoral outcomes but also the pattern of participation. Gorbachevs decision to stick with single-member districts on a territorial basis guaranteed that political forces would group along ethno-territorial lines— all electoral districts in the Soviet Union are currently structured according to the federal system of the country— and that both fronts and interest groupings would be forced to behave like political parties, whatever their original intent. Because of the absence of a lobbying tradition and of institutional matrices for such activity, even groups that would likely remain only interest groups in other countries have been forced to compete in the electoral system. T h e impact of the electoral system on political developments in the Soviet Union can best be seen by the one exception to the rule of single-member districts. That is Estônia. There, the republic authorities have introduced a multiple mandate system, in which voters rank candidates and have their votes tallied across the republic. T hat can lead to a situation in which a candidate with widespread but marginal support will beat out one with intense but limited backing. W hile this defuses somewhat the personal element in the electoral system, it can lead to the election of legislative bodies that are dominated by people with relatively weak backing and no definite constituency and that produce minority-backed governments with less legitimacy. For present purposes, this system tends to freeze out interest groupings, which are often regionally based, and to give support to front groups.

T h e precise pattern of fronts and groups in each republic is a product of these five factors and others as well. To better see how they work, let us consider the political situation in three republics: Lithuania, Geórgia, and Uzbekistan. In Lithuania, the population is overwhelmingly (80 percent) ethnic Lithuanian, the overriding issue is independence, the party leadership is permissive, the republic has a relatively recent tradition of democratic politics, and the electoral system discriminates against smaller groups. T h e result is that the Peoples Front (Sajudis) dominates the scene but is increasingly divided internally along interest and personality lines. Other groups are small and fragmented, and many seem to feel that they must pursue extra-systemic means to achieve their goals, such as the


Perestroika from Below

Polish minority which has unsuccessfully striven for the creation of an autonomous unit. * In Geórgia, the population is extremely diverse with many different ethnic communities seeking many different goals. There are no overriding issues that unite everyone. T h e party leadership has vacillated from hard to soft. T h e republic lacks a strong democratic tradition of recent vintage, and the electoral system encourages diversity. T h e result here is thus very different: there are currently 69 different political interest groupings competing for the elections; thus the Peoples Front is reduced to one organization among many. T h e outcome is likely to be fragmentation along ethnic lines at the republic levei and fragmentation along interest lines within the Georgian community. Indeed, the challenges to Georgian dominance seem just as great as in the Lithuanian case, but because they are diverse rather than singular they have the opposite effect. And in Uzbekistan, where the population is increasingly Uzbek, the overriding goals are themselves divided, and include both greater autonomy and greater aid from the center. T h e party leadership remains conservative, the republic lacks a democratic or even participatory tradition, and the electoral system encourages the party to remain dominant. T h e outcome should be no surprise: numerous small groupings call themselves both fronts and groups but function primarily as elite interest formations.

The Political Crucible In every republic, the forces that prompted the creation of both fronts and groupings are pushing each to act like or even become political parties. Fronts are beginning to decay into parties, and interest groups are uniting into electoral coalitions. And as a result, the political systems of the republics and of the Soviet Union are being transformed, with the former strengthened and the latter losing legitimacy,6 W hile virtually all fronts that have been organized in the last three years survive on paper, most have been radically transformed and are now threatened with decay. There are three distinct reasons for this. First, the fronts are the victims of their own success. Organized to achieve a single objective, they have foundered once that has been accomplished or shown to be either illusory or unattainable in the short term. Fronts like those in Lithuania and Moldavia that have assumed political power have broken apart in practice under the exigencies of government. Fronts that have not yet achieved power— like those in most autonomous republics— have been riven by factionalism as it appears they will not reach their goals. Second, the fronts which were organized as gigantic umbrella groups have collapsed under the pressures of having to compete for electoral success. Personal, ideological, and even organizational splits have opened up as the fronts prove incapable of mounting electoral campaigns in their current form. Thus, Sajudis

Nationalism, Movement Groups, and Party Formation


in Lithuania has had a difficult time containing both the personalities and iocal organizations which make it up. And third, the fronts have been forced to try to become like parties as their members have achieved electoral ofhce. In order to be effective in the parliamentary chamber, they must impose a discipline that was unnecessary on the streets. Some fronts— the one in Latvia is perhaps the prime example— have made this transition but ceased to be fronts as they have acted like parties in the government; others such as those in Estônia and Moldavia have been less successfui thus far. T h e situation with informal groups based on interest artieulation is analogous. Because the Soviet system both at the center and in the republics lacks a mechanism for the advancement of interests outside formal polítics, interest groups too have been forced into becoming or at íeast acting like political parties. That has led them to form alliances in order to achieve majorities either among the eíectorate or within the parliaments. In every republic, groups that are based on a single issue are short-lived while those which seek a broader band of support are proving to be the survivors. And also in every republic, fronts that seemed united are breaking up with their leaders increasingly acting as heads of factions within them or leaders of new parties outside them. Whether this process will continue depends on forces far beyond the groups themselves. But if Moscow does not engineer a crackdown— and that is increasingly unlikely— the fronts and groups of today are likely to serve as the political parties of tomorrow. In that process, there will be many casualties; some groups will disappear, some fronts will collapse, and some institutionalization of lobbying is likely to take place. Not surprisingly, Soviet writers are trying to cope with the complexities of this process: T h e C P S U Central Com m ittee journal Dialog is currently running a translation of Robert M ichels’ classic study of the emergence of political parties.7 T hat is not a bad place to begin— for them or for us— as we seek to comprehend a situation seemingly beyond the scope of any existing political and intellectual framework.

Notes 1. For a broader discussion of this issue, see my “ Russische Nationalismus in der Sowjetsystem,” in Andreas Kappeler (ed.),

Die Russen (Cologne: Markus Verlag, 1990),

3 -1 0 . 2. See my “ Gorbachev and the Soviet nationality problem” in M . Friedberg and H. Isham (eds.),

Soviet Society under Gorbachev (N Y : M . E . Sharpe, 1988), 7 6 -1 0 0 . Problems of Communism, July-August 1989.

3. Paul Goble, “ Soviet ethnic politics/’

My assumption that cross-cutting cleavages would find a functional equivalent in continued higher leveis of coercion and the absence of exit has not proved correct. 4. The best Western surveys are by Vera Tolz. See her Emergence of a Multiparty System in the USSR (CSIS, forthcoming) and “ Major sociopolitical movements in the U SSR," Radio Liberty Research (June 13, 1990). See also Nyeformaly, Civil Society in


Perestroika from Below

the USSR (N Y: HelsinkPWatch, 1990);-and From Below: Indeperident Peace and Environmental Movements in Eastern Europe and the USSR (N Y : Helsinki Watch, 1987). The best Soviet treatment is Irina Snezhkovas review of groups in the various republics in Obshchestvennye nauki, 6 (1989): 110 -1 2 3 . For unofficial Soviet treatments, see especially NeformaPnaia Rossiia (Moscow, 1990) and Vladimir Anishchenko and Natalia Golovanova (eds.), Spravochnik po nezavisimym obshchestvennym organizatsiiam i presse, Third edition (Moscow: IAS, 1990). For continuous updates, see Novosti s Perestroika panorama weekly. For example, “ New public movements in Moldavia,” Perestroika panorama, 21 (February 23, 1990). 5. For a general survey, see Alex Grigorievs, “The L P F and democratic movements in the USSR,” A wakening (Riga), October 7, 1989.

Spravochnik . . . , 2 0 3 -2 3 9 . Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (New York: Hearsts International Library C o ., 1915). 6. Anishchenko and Golovanova, 7. Robert Michels,

11 Unofficial Social Groups and Regime Response in the Soviet Union Jim Butterfield and Mareia Weigle

With the aim of accelerating Soviet economic and social development through the policies of perestroika and glasnost, the Communist party leadership headed by Gorbachev has widened the scope for autonomous participation in social processes by individuais and groups within Soviet society. Increased participation, Gorbachev and his supporters argue, is essential for the success of the states reform package. Gorbachevs intent was for such participation to support party-directed goals in order to rejuvenate obshchestvennost’, or civic activity. Thus the leadership has at times promoted, and at times endured, a gradual widening of the boundaries of legitimate social initiative. It is clear, however, that social initiative is taking a direction of its own as social groups attempt to define their own agendas, which may or may not correspond to party-defined goals. T h e result is a very fiuid situation that portends the gradual development of a new state-society relationship superseding the Stalinist model, whereby all social initiative was either effectivelv channelled through official organs or repressed. T h e organization and activity of social groups, in conjunction with the regimes response, are criticai elements in understanding the “changing boundaries of the political” 1 as well as the development of civil society,2 or an institutionalized role for independent social initiative. T h e degree to which such groups have flourished in the last three years is staggering. Group activity was minimal at the beginning of 1987; only bold groups such as the Democratic Union (a self-styled opposition party that became well

The authors wish to thank the following funding sources from their respective universities: the Faculíy Research and Creative Activities Fund of Western Michigan University and the Faculty Development Fund of Bowdoin College. We also wish to thank Latvian State University for logistical support during the summer of 1989.


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176 Cf

known for its rallies and public discussions on Pushkin Square in Moscow) and a number of human righfs groups (manv of which had been functioning, albeit highly repressed, since the Brezhnev years) vvere active. Bv the middle of 1990, thousands of groups were holding demonstrations, sponsoring discussion groups, taking part in elections, and even engaging in lobbying. T h e flourishing of social groups has even encouraged research projects among Soviet social scientists, who themselves are trying to cope with the phenomenon. ít is therefore not surprising that the Soviet state has had difficulty in determining how to deal with social groups. T h e response, in fact, has been varied and, at times, incoherent. ín an effort to analyze the state response to the rapid growth of social groups, we have constructed a typologv of state/group relations which consists of five categories. Each of these categories is exemplified by a case study.3 T h e first may be termed cooperation between group and state, and the relationship between the Latvian Culture Fund and the Latvian Ministry of Culture serves as a case study. Second, some relationships are characterized by complete antagonism on the part of the state toward the existence of a social group, as indicated by the case of the Belorussian Popular Front. A third category is attempted preemption by the state of the goals of a social group, with the aim of denying the legitimacy of the group; the Memorial society, based in Moscow, provides the case study. T h e fourth is attempted co-optation by the state of a fledgling independent group, as exemplified by the new Union of Advocates and the Ministry of Justice. Finalh; a broad category may be termed “benign tolerance,” in which state agencies pay little attention to the existence of a group, neither openly espousing its goals nor actively denying its legitimacy to exist and articulate those goals. Two examples are given for the latter category: the Club for Democratic Perestroika and Fatherland ('Otechestvo ), both based in Moscow.

A Typology of Group/State Relations Group/regime relations break down into a number of categories ranging from full cooperation to complete antagonism. T h e differences tend to depend on location; relations are characterized by cooperation more often in Latvia, by antagonism more often in Belorussia, and by varying degrees of begrudging acceptance or tolerance in Moscow. This characterization is a tendency, and by no means indicates that all group/regime relations in, say, the Baltic, are entirely harmonious.

Case Study # 1 : Cooperation One of the best examples of cooperation and harmony between groups and regime is that of the relationship between the Latvian Culture Fund and the Latvian Ministry of Culture. T h e Latvian Culture Fund (L C F ) was formed in April 1987 as part of a nationwide program to establish culture funds in all

Unofficial Social Groups


republics. In this, the L C F is unlike other social groups in that it was formed from above. But unlike most regime-formed social organizations (such as the Peace Fund, Associations of the Blind and of Music Lovers), the L C F quickly asserted its independence. As of summer 1989 it had achieved iegal independence from its umbrella organization, the Soviet Culture Fund, with its independent status as a self-initiating social group confirmed by the Latvian Supreme Soviet.1 Its goals are historical and cultural preservation, and it focuses on m onum ents. and buildings of cultural significance, roponyms,5 the renewal of cultural and historical education in schools, and a review of official nistory to ensure the accurate representation of events. In pursuing such goals, the L C F 1 regularly makes certain claims on the regime. Some of these claims mereiv require a one-time decision, such as changing the name of a Street, or deciding to allocate money and resources to restore an old theater. Others involve a long-term inffuence on policy development as in the case of recasting the official version of history or introducing a stronger emphasis on national literature and folklore into elementary education. In either case, the L C F emerges as a political actor in the capacity of an interest group. In other cases, the L C F takes on a management function, actually engaging in restoration activities. In doing so, it enters the domain of the State, which has a monopoly on the right to dispense with buildings and monuments as it sees fít. T h e Fund has its own financial base which is derived primarily from donations.6 It has a bevy of arcnitects, artists, designers and other Creative artisans as part of its paid or volunteer labor force. It expends investments funds, develops restoration plans, negotiates for raw materiais, and works directly with construction organs in restoration projects. In pursuing its different activities, the L C F comes into contact with various agencies of the State. In requesting toponym changes, the relevant agency is the city, village or raion (county) soviet, or in some extreme cases, the republic soviet. In attempting to influence the development of education policy (and, more recently, to open an independent school to be operated by the Fund7), the L C F interacts with the republic State Committee for Education. In at least one case, an attempt to open a merchant marine school (with courses to be taught in Latvian), a subsidiary organization of the L C F has appealed directly to Moscow.8 But in working to restore cultural and historical monuments and buildings, which is where the bulk of the energy is focused, the relevant agency is usually the Ministry of Culture.9 In addition to its primary responsibilities in the operation of theaters, opera and ballet houses, music and art schools, the republic Conservatory and the Academy of Arts, the Ministry of Culture is also responsible for maintaining cultural monuments, sculptures, and many buildings of historical significance.10 W hile the Ministrys failure to adequately guarantee a high quality of cultural maintenance and restoration rests in part with cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and irresponsibiüty (especially at middle and lower leveis of the Ministry), the


Perestroika from Below

primary problem is the very scope of its jürisdiction. T h e Ministry of Culture simply does not have th£ funds, the raw materiais and the personnel to handle the number of necessary tasks. This problem is the very basis of a synergism that has arisen between the Ministry and the LCF. W hile the former has the responsibility and the legal jürisdiction of cultural and historical preservation, the latter has the funds, the talent, and the energy to define the specific targets, do the necessary design work, and marshal support from local authorities. T h e Ministry has almost gladly consigned that responsibility to the L C F, working closely to develop long-term plans, investment priorities, and allocation of resources. T h e primary problem obstructing progression in preservation is the dearth of construction materiais which plagues the entire Soviet economy. T h e L C F appealed to the Council of Ministers and the Supreme Soviet of the republic for permission to form its own subsidiary construction enterprise to rectify that problem; but although it received tacit agreement from higher authorities to legally form such an organ, the dearth of construction materiais has remained a major impediment. Despite such obstacles in pursuing the task of cultural preservation and renewal, the relationship between the Ministry of Culture and the Latvian Culture Fund is largely cooperative. T h e former, along with the republic Council of Ministers and Supreme Soviet, confers legitimacy on the L C F both by recognizing its legal right to exist (it is an officially registered, albeit wholly independent social organization) and its right to make claims and engage in managerial functions that only two years ago were exclusivelv within the jürisdiction of state agencies. Indeed, in the last year the Council of Ministers transferred an arts and crafts manufacturing concern to the Fund, which will take responsibility for its management. Profits, which in recent years under state management averaged 1,5 0 0 ,0 0 0 rubles annually, will accrue to the Fund.11 By such means the state has ensured the long-term financial viability of the Fund. T h e LC F, for its part, provides additional financial resources from donations, expertise from a staff that is partially paid and partiallv volunteer, and a commitment to task that is beyond the scope of the Ministry.

Case Study # 2: Complete Antagonism An exceílent example of total disharmony between group and regime is the case of the Belorussian Popular Front (B P F ). Headquartered in Minsk, it has regional working groups in Vitebsk, Grodno, Gomei, Mogilev and some minor cities (but no representation in rural areas) which conduct activities on a lesser scale. T h e primary location of activity is in Minsk. T h e goals and strategy of the B P F are to work within the system to promote a more open political decision making process, a rectification of ofhcial history, a cultural “ reawakening,” and resolution of the republic s ecological problems.12 T h e B P F has been in formal existence only since its founding congress was convened in Vilnius in late June 1989. But the idea of a popular front dates back to autumn 1988, when 35 intellectuals, then working together as part of a group

Unofficial Social Groups

17 9

to uncover the full story of the Kurapaty W oods,15 formed an organizational committee with the goal of developing a popular front. Despite the fact that the Front was formally organized in summer 1989, the organizational committee acted on behalf of the nascent Front during the spring election campaign of that year. Their efforts were assisted by the activities of three social groups which gradually merged under the Popular Fronts auspices: Talaka , an environmental and cultural preservation group, Tuteishiia, a group of young writers with democratic goals,14 and Martyrology, the group that formed to investigate Kurapaty. T h e membership of the three groups and, eventually, the leadership of the B P F overlapped, and the goals of the three predecessors have been absorbed by the Front. This background of group formation and colíaboration presents a somewhat longer-term view of social group activity and regime response than the mere formal existence of the B P F allows. Belorussian authorities have resolutely denied the legitimacy of the Popular Front, its organizational committee, and its constituent groups. Leaders of Talaka were subjected to administrative arrest several times for organizing demonstrations15 and were targeted in a disinformation campaign by the authorities.16 A requiem meeting at a Minsk cemetery called jointly by Tuteishiia and Martyrology on All Souls' Day in 1988 was broken up by police, who used clubs and gas to drive away participants.17 Some of the members of the organizational committee of the Front had their phones tapped and in some cases were followed.18 Accusations of association with Western provocateurs and Nazis appeared in the ofHcial press (although in this case no specific names of activists were mentioned). Disinformation campaigns were rampant; the official press claimed that activists were planning on fomenting violence to undermine the Soviet regime in late 1988.19 Some activists found professional travei harder to arrange.20 Rooms that various other organizations had made available to the organizational committee of the Front for their activities were abruptly taken away by authorities.21 And finally, the Minsk city soviet, the city party committee, and the republic central committee all refused to grant permission for the founding congress to be held in Minsk.22 Instead, it was held in Vilnius in facilities arranged by Sajudis, the Lithuanian Popular Front.25 T h e Minsk city soviet did allow one rally of the B P F on February 19, 1989, in an open city stadium in freezing weather— nonetheless 4 0 ,0 0 0 people showed up.24 By late summer 1989, telephone tappings were subsiding somewhat, according to activists, and the tone of the disinformation campaign was less sharp. But this hardly indicated a significant softening of attitudes among the Belorussian political leadership. Indeed, in July 1989 leaders of the Popular Front became aware of a new program organized by authorities, said to include the republic Ministry of the Interior, to form workers' detachments in each region of Minsk. These detachments would take the guise of social activists in opposition to the Front and other informal groups. In return for participation in such detachments, workers received certain scarce goods and better apartments, commodities that are more


Perestroika from Below

useful than money in thê resource-scaíce Soviet economy. T h e detachments were reportedly supposed to mobilize support in the workplace against the Front and to engage in vocal opposition during Front activities such as demonstrations and rallies.25 It is clear that authorities in Belorussia have been unwilling to accept even the existence of the popular Front and its predecessors, much less their right to make claims on decision-makers.

Case Study # 3 : A ttempted Pre-emption T h e third case study involves the relationship between the nationwide society Memorial, with its primary base in Moscow, and the All-Union Ministry of Culture. Memorial is a group that formed in 1987 with the goals of building a monument in Moscow to the victims of Stalin and eventually unearthing the history of repression in the Soviet Union. Since the groups inception, its vision has grown; Memorial subsequently targeted the construction of an entire complex to include not only the monument, but a library, an archive, and a museum. T h e society received a boost in its efforts from statements by Gorbachev at the 19th party conference in support of a monument.26 T h e leadership of Memorial is composed almost entirely of elite intelligentsia, and includes such names as Sakharov (until his death in late 1989), Evtushenko, Ertsin, Medvedyev, Shatrov, Okudzhava, Adamovich, and Iurii Afanasyev. They struck upon the idea of a permanent monument in 1988 as a way of preserving the memory of both the ‘'crimes of lawlessness” and its victims. At first the society petitioned the Ministry of Culture to build the monument, and after receiving a flat “ no” decided to raise funds, collect a staff of specialists, and design and erect the monument itself. It started a fund-raising campaign and a competition for the design of the monument. O nce the Ministry saw the degree of commitment and the popularity of Memorial, and its success in raising funds through donations, it announced magnanimously at the end of 1988 that it would indeed build a monument to the “victims of lawlessness and repression that took place during the years of the personality cult.”27 T h e Ministry of Culture then announced a competition for the design of the monument, ignoring the parallel efforts of Memorial, and stating that “organizations [were] not allowed to participate” in the competition.28 T h e purpose of the Ministry was clear: to pre-empt Memorial by embracing its goals, albeit in a watered-down fashion,29 while refusing to recognize the group as the author of those goals. In its efforts to frustrate the initiative and independence of Memorial, the Ministry was aided by the cultural department of the Central Committee, which in late 1988 froze Memoriais bank account containing money garnered from private donations from all over the country. W hen Memorial ofhcials complained to the Central Com m ittee, they were told it would be used to construct the monument under the Ministry s supervision.30 As of late 1989, the funds were still frozen and a resolution of the controversy was awaiting a court hearing in Moscow.31

Unofficial Social Groups


Memorial has taken steps to institutionalize both itself and its goals; it held its founding constituent congress in january 1989 (which was covered on Moscow television32) and formed a charter and program with the intent of applying for official registration. Until late 1989, neither the Moscow city soviet nor the allunion Supreme Soviet had granted official status to the society, despite its longstanding applications. Until then the Supreme Soviet denied registration with the claim that it was awaiting the development of a law on voluntarv associations which would provide the legal foundation for official registration; applications for other all-union informal organizations were being held up for the same reason.33 Near the end of the year the Supreme Soviet finally accepted Memoriais registration, perhaps due to intervention by Sakharov with Gorbachev. T h e Moscow city soviet also registered Memorial, along with a host of other groups, after the elections of April 1990, when a reformist majority was elected. Memorial has steadily gained in legitimacy, but this has been due to the visibility of its leaders (two of which have been members of the Supreme Soviet) and the popularity of its goals. T h e primary State institution with which Memorial must interact, the Ministry of Culture, is just beginning to accept the society s existence, and only begrudgingly. Its attempt to pre-empt the goals of the society failed, and in 1990 Memorial proceeded to build a monument which was unveiled late in the year. It continues to press for its unfulfilled goals.

Case Study # 4 : A ttempted Co-optation O n February 25, 1989, 2,0 0 0 advokaty, lawyers who serve the same function as Western defense attorneys, gathered in Moscow to form a professional union (Soiuz Advokatov). T h e meeting marked the culmination of a year-long struggle by advokaty to gain legitimacy, a struggle that was enhanced by promises made during the 19th party conference in summer 1988 to increase the status of the profession, promises made both by Gorbachev34 and in the Conference resolution on legal reform.35 T h e goals of the association include not only enhanced status, but also an end to the politicization of the advocacy and the corresponding lack of independence that has too often resulted in political pressure placed on the advocate,36 in extreme cases resulting in imprisonment of an advocate failing to act in accordance with the political wishes of higher authorities. One delegate stated, “what we want is for the advocate to be able to concentrate on his client s fate during a trial, not on his own.”37 T h e Ministry of Justice, a conservative organ that is responsible for all sectors of the Soviet legal system, at first tried to subvert the formation of the association. Letters were sent out from the Ministry to the territorially organized collegia of advocates informing them that any such action was illegal. Nonetheless, advocates pressed ahead with their plan to hold a founding congress in October 1988; but when the delegates arrived they found that both their hotel and conference hall bookings had been cancelled by the Ministry.38 T h e congress had to be rescheduled


Perestroika from Below

in Moscow two months lâter, and feweF. delegates were able to attend. Nonetheless, the delegates showed theip tenacity by holding the congress and voting to form the association in February. Once it was apparent that the advokaty would go through with their plan, the Ministry embarked on a strategy of co-optation. It succeeded in influencing the selection of the executive committee with the hope of inducing an organizational format more conducive to influence (or outright control), one that would include the considerablv less radical and less independent-minded Procuracy (the investigators and prosecutors of the Soviet legal system).39 That hope failed; the advocates insisted on an exclusive organization. Then the Minister of Justice, Boris Kravtsov, let it be known that he supported the formation of a union, so long as it would be subordinate to the Ministry.40 This and other attempts to undermine the independence of the proposed union were successfully fought by the unions organizers. Despite the success of the advocates in asserting their independence during the formation of the union, the strategy of the Ministry of Justice was one of attempted co-optation. After originally trying to deny its right to exist at all, the Ministry tried to control the process of formation and to dilute the advocates' organizational independence either by including the Procuracy in the same union or by bringing the union into the organizational framework of the Ministry itself.

Case Studies # 5 and # 6 : Benign Tolerance T h e Moscow-based Club for Democratic Perestroika started out as an informal discussion group in early 1988, but grew into what one activist referred to as a “political education' ciub.41 Its regular membership is reasonably aware of Western social Science literature, and its political tendency is decidedly radical (i.e., favoring a liberalized economy, civil rights and a democratic system). T h e Club for Democratic Perestroika works closely with similar political discussion groups in a number of Russian cities and is an active component of the Moscow Popular Front. One division of the club continues to organize discussion sessions on a host of topics tied to economic and political reform. Sessions occur at least as often as once weekly and are held either at the Institute of Economic Modelling or at other academic establishments in Moscow when discussion halls are available. Usually a speaker is invited to present an analysis of a reform issue, after which a free-wheeling discussion ensues. Another division of the club irregularly publishes a journal. Part of the journal, entitled Otkrytaia zona (T h e Open Zone), is devoted to Information about social and political issues that otherwise receive little publicity. T h e balance is devoted to articles that tend to focus on theoretical issues of socialism and reform, in addition to far-ranging commentary on political developments. T h e journal is circulated among the clubs active members and is often passed along to other readers, but more importantly the journal is delivered to several hundred high-

Unofficial Social Groups

18 3

levei apparatchiki in both party and executive positions. According to the groups supporters, many of these apparatchiki are avid readers of the journal. By this means, the club hopes to gradualiy infiuence the opinions of key decision-makers (or those who are in a position to infiuence decisions) by regularly subjecting them to an increasingly wider scope of theory and analysis of reform socialism. So far there has been little reaction from authorities. T h e club did not appeal for anything that required official response, such as meeting space or permission to use an official printing press. T h e authorities, not forced to respond by virtue of legal jurisdiction, elected to remain passive. Despite the radical nature of many of the clubs activists and their ideas (one of the topics under discussion even in the early days of the groups formation was whether reform socialism can work at all without introducing private property), authorities have chosen to tolerate them, benignly ignoring their existence. Fatherland ( Otechestvo ),42 a social group at the other end of the political spectrum, is also based in Moscow, but has constituent groups in many cities of the Russian republic, most notably in Sibéria (where, in fact, it began).43 W hile it had been in existence for over a year, its formal founding congress was held in Moscow in March 1989. T h e organization has close ties with the ultraconservative journals Nash sovremennik and Molodaia gvardiia , the latter having provided a meeting space in the early stages of the groups formation (it was subsequently temporarily located in a city planning institute) and acted as a forum for the publication of its ideas. Its leader is the historian Apollon Kuzmin. Fatherland is a modern example o f the slavophilism movement of over a century ago. It is anti-capitalist, anti-liberal, indeed, in every respect, anti-Western. Its followers romantically hark back to the consensus-style, self-governed obshchina the classic Russian village that was destroyed in the i920s and 1930s. They believe in the inherent value of Russian culture, and while not openly denigrating other nationalities in the Soviet Union, they argue that the fate of those nationalities is inextricably intertwined with the Great Russian nation. in short, the Russians should continue to play the dominant political and cultural role in a unified political system in the future as in the past. W hile they clearly reject liberaíism


and capitalism, they are not clear as to what kind of socialism they support (although they claim to fully support perestroika), Their primary obiectives are a “ renewal” of Russian culture, complete independence of the Soviet Union from any externai elements (they are resolutely against borrowing and joint ventures), and the maintenance of the Russian nations dominant role in the country.44 There is also a decidedly anti-Semitic strain to Fatherland, as evidenced by Kuzmins public statements on the role of Jews in the revolution, as well as a statement by a Fatherland activist that “ many Jews participated in the crimes committed by Stalin, and to some degree they have to carry responsibility for that.”45 Intellectually they are not very distant from Pamiat’ (Memory), a better-known Russian nationaíist group. But Fatherland steadfastly distances itself from Pam iat\ rejecting more the style of the latter than the substance.

Perestroika from Below


Fatherland started out primarily as a discussion group; increasingly it directs its activities toward popularizing its ideas through public appearances and publications (it has its own small-scale publication, although it is more of a bulletin than a journal at the present time). T h e response from the authorities is much like that given the Club for Democratic Perestroika; they know, of course, that both organizations exist and what they stand for, and they tolerate their existence virtually without comment.

State Responses Social Science literature on social groups and movements tends to focus on the groups themselves, in particular on their goals, motivations, and access to and utilization of resources.46 Relatively few sociologists appreciate the importance of the receptivity of state agencies to the course of development of organized social initiative.47 W hile, in political Science, interest group theory recognizes the im­ portance of the disposition of state agencies toward organized interests, most interest group analyses are conceived in Western settings, in which groups are highly organized and sophisticated in their lobbying techniques in a multi-party democratic setting. At the risk of stereotyping disciplinary approaches to the study of social groups and movements, it may be stated that for purposes of analysis, sociological theory tends to understate the crucial role of the state, while political Science theory assumes the importance of highly institutionalized channels of interest articulation as well as stability in the rules of the game as to how interests are expressed. Both of these inclinations are understandable considering that most such research has taken place in Western settings. However, for the study of social initiative and state response in the Soviet Union, these approaches must be reexamined. A determining factor in the current Soviet situation is that the rules of the game for interest articulation are highly unstable. To the degree that rules exist, they are the result of a temporary modus vivendi between groups and their corresponding state agencies, and any modus vivendi is highly fluid because of rapidly changing macro- and micro-political processes. T h e fluidity of the processes and relationships between groups and state agencies makes articulation of a response paradigm (based on state responses) a highly speculative exercise. Take, for example, the response paradigm of William Gamson, one of the sociologists who over a decade ago attempted an analysis of state responses.48 He conceived of a twodimensional paradigm, with one axis relating the dispensation of goals of any one group, and the other relating the acceptance or non-acceptance by the state of the existence of the group. His paradigm is represented in Figure 11.1. Acceptance by the state of the existence of a group, coupled with the groups success in achieving its goals, constitutes full legitimation; rejection by the state of a group and its goals constitutes repression. Granting permission for a group to exist while denying the legitimacy of its claims is, in Gamsons analysis, co-optation, while


Unofpcial Social Groups

FIGURE 11.1. GamsorVs Paradigm of State Responses to Group Challenges Ach ievemení oi Goais




Full Legitimation




Acceptance ,ol

Gioupi^LSiam Non-Acceptance

FIGURE 11.2. Application of Case Studies to Gamson’s Paradigm Achievement of Goais


Acceptance„.qí Non-Acceptance



Latvian Culture Fund

Union of Advocates


Belorussian Popular Front

the opposite case of acceptance of goais and denial of the legitimacy of the group is pre-emption. T h e case studies from the Soviet Union discussed above demonstrate that Gamsons response paradigm is at least partially useful. T h e cases, as arranged in his paradigm, are represented by Figure 11.2. T h e Latvian Culture Fund is fuliy legitimized by the State organs with which it must internet; while the Belorussian Popular Front is largely repressed. T h e all-union Ministry of Justice tried to coopt the Union of Advocates, albeit unsuccessfully; and the all-union Ministry of Culture has tried to pre-empt the Memorial Society. Yet there are shorteomings in a crude application of Gamsons paradigm.49 First, in all cases, the state allovvs the groups to exist, even in the highly repressive atmosphere of Belorussia. One need only compare the current situation in Belorussia to any example of social initiative during the Brezhnev years, a time when any independent initiative was termed “dissident” behavior and as such was subject to criminal punishment or incarceration in a psychiatric institution. W hat the


Perestroika from Below

state denies in the cases of the Belorussian Popular Front and the Memorial Society is the legitimacy of those groups to press their claims in the public arena. In the case of Memorial, the state has adopted the goals of the Society (at least in part) while denying Memoriais right to participate in the attainment of those goals— hence, pre-emption. In the case of the Belorussian Popular Front, republic and local agencies of the state aeny both the right of the Front to exist (but do not fully suppress its existence) and the goals it espouses. T h e case of co-optation, the Union of Advocates, also needs clarification before it is readily applicable to the Soviet Union. W hile the Ministry of Justice has accepted the right of the Union to exist, it has done so only under the conditions in which the Union will be subsumed within the jurisdiction of the Ministry. This format would allow the Ministry to control the independence of the Union, thereby preventing it from pressing its claims. Thus the Ministry attemptea to co-opt the group, permitting it to exist under certain conditions, but at the same time denying the legitimacy of the Unions goals. But perhaps the most problematic use of this paraaigm in the highly fluid situation of the Soviet Union today is evident in the absence of a category for the fifth and sixth case studies, those of the Club for Democratic Perestroika and Fatherland, which we have termed “benign tolerance” on the part of the regime. T h e regime has neither suppressed these groups nor has it paid much attention to their goals. Thev have operated in the general atmosphere of glasnost without attracting any overt attention. There is no place in a well-articulated two-by-two box for a non-response on the part of the state, and yet this may be the most common response of all (and very significant in light of Soviet history, considering the fact that the state has not allowed independent social groups to exist since the 193Os). Some groups function to make claims on the state, but in so doing get no response, and yet the groups continue to operate and make their claims. Other groups, like the Club for Democratic Perestroika and Fatherland, make no claims on any state agency, yet participate in the general public discussion on the future structure of the political system and the development of public policy with little or no reaction from authorities. T h e legitimacy of these groups is not overtly conferred, but in the absence of the States denial of their legitimacy, it is de facto conceded. T h e confusion of the set of state responses can be further appreciated when it is noted that occasionally the state response to a group cannot be characterized by any one response type. O ne example, not contained in the case studies elucidated above, is that of the Latvian Popular Front. O n the one hand, it is able to print its own independent publication with almost no censorship from the state. In fact the newspaper A tmoda is printed on the printing press of the Central Committee of the republic party organization and has adequate supplies of highquality paper from a factory within Latvia. All this is done with no official legal status; despite one attempt to register the Front in early 1989, it continues to operate in legal limbo. In most other regions (Moscow, for instance) the absence

Unofficial Social Groups


of legal registration makes access to a printing press and a paper suppiy all but impossible.50 Thus the Front owes the fact that it has its own newspaper, a crucial resource in spreading information and mobilizing support, to the cornplicity of high-level authorities.51 Another example of overt cooperation between the Front and the state is the arrangement by which the Latvian Council of Ministers agreed in 1989 to expend hard currency to buy small-scale farming technology from West Germany for independent farmers at the behest of the Front. O nce the machinery was purchased, the Front, and not the republics agro-industrial bureaucracy, distributed it.52 On the other hand, the Popular Front continually runs into obstacles in trying to accompiish key organizational imperatives. T h e Riga city government (gorispolkom) has regularly obstructed the Popular Front, including in the battle by the Front to find a location for its headquarters.53 A place in Riga was simply unavailable until the Council of Ministers of the Repubíic overstepped the Riga city government and provided the Front with its own building (albeit run-down) in the old town.54 In addition, the repubíic procurator s office single-handedly undermined the Frorits attempt to officially register, thereby guaranteeing that the legal status of the Front would remain in question.55 Thus, the relationship between the Latvian Popular Front and the state cannot be easily categorized. In some cases the relationship is a functioning synergism; in others the two are quite clearíy operating at cross-purposes. W hat explains the plethora of reactions by the state to the muítitude of social groups? W hy do reactions range from a highly positive cooperative attitude to neo-Stalinist desires to virtually suppress any independent social initiative? Why does the state often appear to benigníy tolerate many social groups? Why, in other cases, is its response to independent social initiative so complicated, and at times even self-contradictory? Answers to these questions are evident only from an examination of two distinguishing characteristics of the current Soviet situation: the divided character of the current political íeadership, and the splintered, multi-agency, muíti-level nature of the state itself.

Divided Attitudes at the Center Group activity is clearly a social response to the official poiicy of glasnost. Thus, it must be noted from the start that the state provided the opportunity structure for groups to flourish. But there is no evidence to indicate that the Íeadership, including Gorbachev, the very author of glasnost, expected anything approaching the extent of todays organized social activity. Thus the state was unprepared as social groups mushroomed in 1987 and 1988, and it was further unprepared as the scope of group activities expanded and filled in the entire range of the political spectrum. One result of this unpreparedness has been the incoherent


Perestroika from Below

response of central authk Ôrities. But the la c k o f a coherent response can also be explained bv the divided attitudes at the center regarding social group activity. Certainly it is evident that the center is not entirely comfortable with the extent of group activity. T h e early response, according to one close observer of political developments in the Soviet Union, vvas to try to bring groups into the Komsomol (the Communist Youth Organization— many of the pioneer groups were primarily youth organizations of one type or another)— in other words, to co-opt them. This approach soon failed.56 T h e response throughout 1989 was measured. Some moves on the part of the leadership were clearly defensive; others were outright hostile. Restrictive regulations governing the procedures for obtaining permission for demonstrations and rallies were published in mid-year.57 A day after their publication Justice Minister Kravtsov defended them, virtually equating such public activities with “disruptions of public order and other dangerous antisocial manifestations.” 58 Gorbachev promised at the 19th party conference that one of the tasks of the new (all-union) Supreme Soviet would be the drafting of a law on “voluntary societies, socially independent groups and other grass roots associations,” 59 but he gave little indication of what the law would entail. In x\ugust 1989, it was revealed that a special police force had been created (according to one report, as early as November 1987) to “safeguard public order during rallies and demonstrations/’60 T h e decree establishing the special forces, or spetsnazy , was passed by the Supreme Soviet in the summer of 1988 and apparently gives permission to the units to pursue people suspected of initiating public demonstrations and to enter their homes, seize their personal property, and use a variety of weapons.61 T h e spetsnazy carne into public view when they broke up a demonstration ou Pushkin Square in Moscow by the Democratic Union. Other reports indicate that spetsnazy have been formed in other republics as well. In an interview Latvian Interior Minister Bruno Steinbriks listed the duties of the spetsnazy, the first of which was “ to maintain public order at sports, cultural, and other events attracting huge crowds of people/’62 Clearly this can include mass demonstrations. Two events in February 1989 served to remind social groups of the negative attitudes of certain authorities. Politburo member and former K G B chief Victor Chebrikov issued a stern warning against social groups while in Moldavia, telling party officials there that “ independent, so-called informal organizations pose great harm to our mighty, positive social movement.”63 T h e same day regulations on media coverage of demonstrations were published in Izvestiia ,64 Finally, in April, the brutal suppression of a demonstration in Tbilisi resulted in twenty deaths as a result of beatings and the use of toxic gas. Yet while all this serves to indicate that the State has far from fully accep ted independently organized social activity, the fact rem ains that the tw o-year period o f 1 9 8 8 - 1 9 8 9 saw a massive expansion in activity. E ven ts organized by groups b ecam e steadily m ore frequent, the types o f their activities expanded, and the

Unoflicial Social Groups


range of topics they brought into public discussion increased. Advisors known to be dose to the reform-oriented leadership, including Tatiana Zaslavskaia and Boris Kurasnvili, openly espoused the role of sodal groups.65 T h e president of Rossiia, an informal union of cooperatives in Moscow, claims to have the support of the Institute of Economics, which is headed by Abalkin, another dose advisor to Gorbachev.66 Such anecdotal evidence indicates that the phenomenon of social groups is not entirely rejected among the reform-oriented element of the leadership. Gorbachev himself must appreciate many social group activities aimed at supporting major elements of his reform package, including the cooperative program and the struggle against inefficient bureaucracy. It is also arguable that certain groups have helped Gorbachev expand the realm of public discussion into areas in which he has found opposition from opponents. With Memorial and other groups openly exposing the crimes of Stalin, Gorbachev was able to virtually drop the topic when it became prudent for him to do so.67 Thus it cannot be stated that the regimes attitude toward social groups is entirely negative. Divided opinion among leaders almost certainly accounts in part for their lack of coherence in responding to group activity. ín the absence of a coherent response, groups continue to flourish, suffering at most only temporary and relatively minor setbacks. Policy toward individual groups is left largely to the agencies which must deaí directly with the groups. In the highly differentiated political scene in the Soviet Union today, responses by republic, oblast (province), and local agencies vary dramatically.

Variance in Response by Sub-center Agencies O ne of the maxims of any modern state is its multi-agency character. Any state is made up of multipíe branches, and each branch consists either of its own territorially based constituent organs or a set of specialized agencies with responsibility for an exclusive jurisdiction. To maintain uniformity of action among a plethora of agencies differentiated by speciaíization, locality, and levei within the power hierarchy requires nothing less than a totalitarian impulse among the leadership. By virtue of its structure and size, the Soviet state is more extensive and differentiated than virtually any other in the world. This fact was somewhat disguised under Brezhnevs attempts to strengthen monolithic leadership. Gorbachevs efforts to decentralize decision-rnaking authority and to introduce “socialist pluralism” ilíustrate the potential for fragmentation that has always existed in Soviet power structures. Consider the fact that there are three hierarchies: the party, the soviets, and the executive machinery, the latter of which is made up of over 100 specialized ministries, each of which constitute another hierarchy. Add to this the federalist nature of the Soviet system; although the system has never guaranteed regional or local autonomy in decision-rnaking, its structure provides foi party committees, soviets and executive committees at every sub-center levei. W hen


Perestroika from Below

the vertical cleavages arftong power hjerarchies are coupled with the horizontal cleavages of territorial organization, the Soviet power structure looks considerably more like a mosaic of agencies than a monolithic structure capable of acting as a single unit. T h e point to be stressed is that the mosaic of agencies, once having lost the impulse (or pretense) of monolithic solidarity at the top, has differentiated extensively. It can no longer be said that the party, for instance, acts in a unified fashion. T h e Central Com m ittees cultural department authorized the freezing of Memoriais funds, while the Latvian republics party organization permits the publication of the Latvian Popular Fronts Atmoda. Neither can the thousands of local governments be expected to have the same priorities. T h e Minsk and Riga city governments actively work to obstruct social group activity on all fronts. Before the 1990 elections the Moscow city soviet had an attitude which, if not liberal, was at least more open-minded in accepting the permanence of some social group activity.68 With the election of a reform-minded majority in April and the advent of Gavril Popov as the chairman of the soviet, many groups were able to register (the same happened in Leningrad). Structural cleavages are exacerbated by significant issue cleavages, not the least of which is nationalism. Nationalism certainly accounts for the tendency of authorities in Latvia to be more accommodating to social groups which make nationalist claims (although the same phenomenon has not yet occurred in Belorussia). Other issue cleavages include regional priorities (for example, water diversion in western Sibéria and Central Asia) and ecological priorities, which have been embodied in part in the anti-nuclear power movements that surfaced in the wake of Chernobyl. T h e multi-agency structure of the Soviet State naturally tends toward differentiation, which is itself intensified by issue cleavages which vary by locality. In the absence of a strong, unified will at the center (either the will of a single dictator or a collective dictatorship) the tendency toward differentiation has asserted itself. Multiple and varied responses toward social group activity are, therefore, the expected result.

Conclusion Changes in the pattern of state-society relationships prompted by glasnost and perestroika have provided an arena within which social group activity has flourished since 1987. Gorbachev has exhorted the power hierarchy to lessen its iron grip on the control of social processes, to be more responsive to expression of social interests, and to dismantle bureaucratic stifling of social initiative. T h e result has been confusion and conflict as to the States jurisdiction over and strategies toward social processes. Concurrently, Gorbachev has encouraged Soviet citizens to take an active role in the reform process through conslructive social activity and pressure on officials at all leveis to become Creative and flexible decision-makers. T h e result of this has been a shift in the source of interest articulation, representation of


Unofjicial Social Groups

social interests, and types of mediation between society and State, As social groups have become more sophisticated in their strategy, they have become an increasingíy greater challenge to state leaders in responding to social initiative. T h e pattern of social group activity and regime response that has developed from th is challenge is complicated by dissension within leadership ranks as to the proper role of social initiative as well as to the weakening of discipline of sub-center authorities. T h e case studies presented here show that certain patterns of social group activity and regime response can be identified as both sides grope to maintain or carve out a position in the context of a rapidly changing, unstable situation. T h e patterns, however, are tenuous given the process of re-definition that currently characterizes Soviet state-society reíations. To date, there has been no institutionalization of a role for social group activity, or for that rnatter, a clear concession by the leadership that independent groups shouid have a legitimate role in the system, whether it be mass politicaí activity or highly íocussed íobbying efforts. Their position has certainly been enhanced by the introduction of competitive elections; groups participated vigorously in the spring 1989 nationaí elections and especially in the spring 1990 regional and local elections. But as state-society reíations are in constant flux, groups must still constantíy test the politicaí waters and redefine strategies to attain their goals in light of the varied and sometimes unpredictable responses from different leveis of the state mechanism. Indeed the groups have mounted an insurgency into the politicaí realm, capturing the initiative from the reform-minded leadership by the second half of 1989 and forcing the state and its leadership into a reactive mode. T h e occasional benevoíent attitudes of some authorities, the willingness of others to benignly accept autonomous social groups, and the vulnerability of others who may wish to suppress them, all provide an opportunity structure that groups have exploited; and most íikely they will continue to do so. T h e leadership has not yet found a coherent response to the insurgency of social initiative; shouid such a response be formuíated it is unlikely that it could be enforced as a coherent policy throughout the complex and increasingíy differentiated Soviet power structure. T h e Íikely result is the legitimation and institutionalization of social initiative in the Soviet Union, thereby signalíing a fundamentally different state-society reíationship than the one bequeathed by Stalin, which is graduaíly dissipating.

Notes 1. Charles Maier (ed.),

The Changing Boundaries of the Politicaí (Oxford: Oxford

University Press, 1987). 2. Indeed the term

grazhdanskoe obshchestvo (civil society) has gained increased usage

among Soviet social scientists examining issues of public participation and social initiative. T h e authors had numerous conversations in Moscow and Riga with sociologists and philosophers who were conversa nt with the term

grazhdanskoe obshchestvo, if not completely

familiar with much of the Western literature on the subject. For one printed source that


Perestroika from Below

briefly discusses grazhdanskoe obshchestvo^see Andranik Migranian, “Vzaimootnosheniia individa, obshchestva i gosudai^tva v politicheskoi teorii marksizma i problemy demokratizatsii sotsialisticheskogo obshchestva," Voprosy filosofii 1987:8 (August 1987), 7 5 -9 2 . 3. This article uses research conducted in 1989 and 1990 in three localities: Moscow, Minsk and Riga. 4. Interview, Ramona Umblija, Vice-Chairperson for Administration and Programs, Latvian Culture Fund, Jurmala, Latvia, July 5, 1989. 5. Toponyms, or place names, are a bone of contention in many national areas. Many historical toponyms were changed following the “ Sovietization” of both Rússia and the national areas, and there is a broad movement encompassing many geographical areas to change Soviet names back to their original, historical names. These include cities, streets, parks, and even rivers, lakes, and forests. ínterviews, Umblija; Maruta Dzerve, Coordinator of Programs, Latvian Culture Fund, Riga, July 19, 1989. See also Nina Tumarkin, “The end of the Soviet name gam e?" Boston Globe (November 16, 1988), 2. 6. As of summer 1989 funds amounted to roughly 2 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 rubles. Interview, Umblija. 7. T h e school, to be called Spidula, was scheduled to be opened this year, but problems arose as to location. The Fund was offered a dilapidated building located in the outskirts of Riga in an industrial region; it declined. Moreover, delays were caused by difficulties in finding a director. T h e projected opening date for the school is now two or three years away. Interview, Dzerve. 8. Interview, Arvis Pope, Chairman of the Society of Seafaring History, Riga, July 5, 1989. 9. In some cases the Fund works directly with a sovkhoz or kolkhoz, if the monument or building sits on farm territory. 10. In addition, it operates the state library. T h e dilapidated condition of the library, located in the center of Riga, is the subject of controversy, because some of the holdings are steadily deteriorating due to humidity and, occasionally, water damage from a leaky roof. The L C F has entered into the fray of this controversy too, pressing the Ministry for action. T h e main problem seems to be typical bureaucratic torpor in dealing with the matter, as well as limitations on funding and, as is all too common, construction materiais. 11. Interview, Umblija. 12. They strenuously deny any pretensions to acting as an opposition party. Interview, Oleg Trusov, member of the Soim of the Belorussian Popular Front, Minsk, July 22 , 1989. 13. T h e mass grave of victims of, it is believed, collectivization and purges, that was found outside Minsk in the summer of 1988. 14. See Kathleen Mihalisko, “A profile of informal patriotic youth groups in Belorussia,”

Radio Liberty Research R L 318/88, (July 14, 1988), for additional information on Talaka and Tuteishiia. 15. Interview, Vitkor Ivashkevich, member of the governing board of the Belorussian Popular Front, Minsk (July 23, 1989). 16. Ibid., and Kathleen Mihalisko, “A popular front in Belorussia," Radio Liberty

Research R L 514/48 (November 13, 1988). 17. Kathleen Mihalisko, “ Police crack down on demonstration in Minsk,” Radio Liberty Research R L 510/88 (November 16, 1988); also interview, Yuri Drakokhrust, member of the Soim of the Belorussian Popular Front, Minsk (July 23, 1989). 18. Interview, Mikhail Cherniiavskii, member of the Soim of the Belorussian Popular Front, Minsk (July 23, 1989).


Unofficial Social Groups 19. Intervievv, Gennadii Sokolov-Kubai, member of the

Soim of the Belorussian Popular

Front, Minsk (July 22 , 1989). 20. Interview, Chemiiavskii. 21. Interviews, Sokolov-Kubai and Ivashkevich. 22. In an interesting ploy, authorities refused to grant permission, but they also said they would not forbid the meeting. T h e organizational committee considered that in the absence of official permission authorities could claim the congress vvas a provocation by law breakers and could disrupt the congress and, through further disinformation, discredit the organizers. Interviews, Sokolov-Kubai, and Petr Vasirevskii, correspondent for the literary weekly

Literatura i mastatstva, Minsk (July 22, 1989).

23. This was the second time in 1989 that this happened; a congress of youth groups also had problems holding their meeting in Minsk and instead met in Vilnius on January 14 and 15. Interviews, Sokolov-Kubai and Vasirevskii; see also Kathleen Mihalisko, “ Be­ lorussian notebook,"

Radio Liberty Research 1:7 (February 17, 1989), 2 3 - 2 4 .

24. Interviews, Sokolov-Kubai, Vasirevskii, and Drakokhrust; see also Kathleen Mihalisko, “ Popular Front permitted to hold rally in M insk/'

Radio Liberty Research 1:10 (March

10, 1989), 2 8 - 3 0 . 25. Interviews, Sokolov-Kubai and Vasii'evskii. 26. Julia Wishnevsky, “ Conflict between State and ‘Memorial' society,”

Radio Liberty

Research 1:3 (January 20, 1989), 8. New York Times (December Current Digest of the Soviet Press

27. Bill Keller, “ Stalins victims: an uneasy enshrinement," 28, 1988), A l, A 9; “ Competition opens," translated in X L I:4 (February 22, 1989), 10-11. 28. “ Competition opens," 11.

29. The Ministry has conceded only to a monument and has rejected the remaining components of the envisioned complex. And it has conceded to build a monument only to Stalins victims, as evidenced by the euphemism “during the years of the personality cult." While this was also originally the desire of

Memorial, it now' envisages a monument

to all victims of illegal repression, including those of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev years. interview, Alexei Tolkarev, staff member of 30. “An interview with Andrei Sakharov,"

Memorial, Moscow, July 29 , 1989. New York Review ofBooks, (March 2, 1989),

6. 31. Interview, Tolkarev. 32. “ T V shows ‘Memorial' constituent congress,"

FBIS Daily Report, (January 30,

1989), 7 5 - 6 . 33. These include, at least, the Green Movement (Z elenoe

Dvizhertie) and the Social-

Ecological Union. Interviews, Tolkarev; Sviatoslav Zabelin, leader of the Social-Ecological Union, Moscow, July 31, 1989. 34. John Burns, “ Soviet lawyers, in feisty session, form their first bar group,"


York Times (February 26, 1989), 12. 35. Julia Wishnevsky, “The Party Conference resolution on legal reform,"

Radio Liberty

Research (July 7, 1988). 36. “Attorneys union Chairman comments on tasks," 1989), 8 4 - 5 .

FBIS Daily Report, (March 9,

37. Burns, “ Soviet lawyers . . ." 38. Ibid., and Julia Wishnevsky, “Association of legal counsel to be established," Liberty Research 1:2 (January 13, 1989), 1 5 -6 .



Perestroika from Below

39. And, as was noted by Literaturnaia gazeta, the delay undermined any hope that the advocates could play a role in the spring elections. “Justice Minister addresses new lawyers* union,” FB1S Daily Report (March 6, 1989), 91. 40 . Wishnevsky, “Association of legal counsel . . .” 41. lnterview, Andrei Fadin, Moscow, August 1, 1989. 42. The full name of the group is the “ Moscow City Voluntary Society of Russian Culture Fatherland.” 43. lnterview, Ornar Tarasovich, activist and full-time employee of Fatherland, Moscow, July 1989. 4 4 . Much of this is explicitly stated in the resolutions and charter passed at the founding congress in March, published by the society as “ Materials of the Conference of the Moscow City Voluntary Society of Russian Culture ‘Fatherland’,” handout, 2 1 -7 . The last point about the dominance of Russian culture is less directly stated; the third clause (1.3) of the society s charter states that “ the activities of the society assume the formation of support of the Communist Party of the Soviet Unions policy in the area of relations between nationalities. . . .” T h e attitude towards the positions of other nationalities was also clear from the interview with Tarasovich and an appearance by Kuzmin on the morning show “ 120 minutes” in early July 1989. 45. lnterview, Tarasovich. 46. Mainstream social movement literature falis under the rubric of “ resource mobilization theory,” and is exemplified by the following works, among others: John M cCarthy and Mayer Zald, “ Resource mobilization and social movements: a partial theory,” American Journal o f Sociology, 8 2 :6 (May 1977), 1 2 1 2 -1 2 4 1 ; J. Craig Jenkins and Charles Perrow, “ lnsurgency of the powerless: farm worker movements (1 9 4 6 -1 9 7 2 ),” American Sociological Review, 4 2 :2 (April 1977), 2 4 9 - 2 6 8 ; and Zald and M cCarthy (eds.), The Dynamics o f Social Movements: Resource Mobilization, Social Control and Tactics (Cambridge, MA: Winthrop, 1979). 47. One exception is William Gamson, The Strategy o f Social Protest (Homewood, IL: Dorsev Press, 1975); More recently, M cCarthy and Zald, along with Doug McAdam, have included some comments on the importance of the role of the state in their entry, “ Social movements” in Neil Smelser (ed.), the Handbook o f Sociology, (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1988), 6 9 5 -7 3 7 . 48 . Gamson, The Strategy o f Social Protest. 49 . This is typical when abstract constructs are applied to a situation; they are not intended to fuily explain any empirical situation, but to offer analytical insight. In that respect, Gamsons paradigm is not to be criticized. We wish to point out that the Soviet set of responses is much more complex and to offer an analysis in the ensuing sections of why that is the case. 50. lnterviews, Tolkarev and Zabelin. 51. T h e authors have examined almost the entire print run of Atmoda, the Fronts newspaper, since its inception in late 1988, and while there was one instance of an article being censored (as indicated in the paper by a blank space where the article was to be, surrounded by a border of scissors), the range of topics is extraordinary. Issues of independence, the legitimacy of the idea of communism, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop secret protocol and resulting “occupation” (this word is regularly used) of the Baltic by Soviet forces are regularly discussed.


Unofficial Social Groups

52. Interview, Peteris Lakis, member of the steering commiitee of the Latvian Popular Front, Riga, July 14, 1989. 53. In early 1990 the former chairman of the Riga

gorispolkom, Alfred Rubiks, was

named the first secretarv of the repubiic party organization, replacing jan Vagris, vvhose attitude toward the Front was ambivalent. Increased tensions between the Popular Front and the republican Communist Party continued, especially when Rubiks gained a seat on the C P S U Politburo in July 1990. 54. Interview, Peteris Lakis, Riga, July 7, 1989. 55. Interview, Edgars Melkisis, chairman of the legal commission of the Latvian Popular Front, Riga, July 11, 1989. 56. Vera Tolz, ‘informal groups in Soviet political life,”

The Washington Quarterly

(Spring 1988), 1 3 7 -1 5 5 . 57. “ Ukaz Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR: O poriadke organizatsii i provedeniia sobranii, mitingov, ulichnykh shestvii i demonstratsii v S S S R /'

Izvestiia (July 29, 1988),

2. 58. “ Demokratiia i zakonnost’,”

Izvestiia (July 30, 1988), 4.

59. “ O prakticheskoi rabote po realizatsii reshenii X IX Vsesoiuznoi Konferentsii KPSS,”

Izvestiia (July 31, 1988), 1. 60. “ Provocateurs: they deliberately violated Soviet law to incite a conflict,” Current Digest of the Soviet Press 4 0 :3 4 (September 21, 1988), 2. 61. Iain Elliot, “ How open is openness’?” Survey 30:3 (October 1988), 3 -4 . 62. Dzintra Bungs, “ Black Berets in Riga,” Radio Liberty Research 1:10 (March 10, 1989), 27'. Italics added. 63. Bill Keller, “ New Soviet political groups come under attack,”

New York Times

(February 13, 1989), 6. 64. Ibid. 65. Vera Tolz, “ Informal groups in the USSR in 1988,”

Radio Liberty Research R L

4 8 7 /8 8 (October 30, 1988), 6; see also Zaslavskaia, “ Restructuring corresponds to the strategic interests of the majority,”

Soviet Sociology 27:3 (1 9 8 8 ), 15, 17.

66. Bill Keller, “ Private Soviet entrepreneurs, under íire, close ranks,”

New York Times

(November 14, 1988), 1. 67. The Revolution Day speech in November 1987, in which one of the main topics was the legacy of Stalin, turned out to be disappointingly moderate. It was promised that Gorbachev, who wished to distance himself from Stalin in order to validate his reform efforts, was to issue a sharp rebuke to Stalin and his legacy. The surprisingly moderate speech was widely interpreted as having resulted from strong opposition by conservatives within the Politburo to a harsher statement from Gorbachev. Since that time he has had little to say on the topic, while the public discussion has continued to grow considerably. 68. For example, it has stood aside and permitted an organization calling itself “ Persons Who Have Suffered from íllegal Repressions” to make arrangements with hospitais, clinics, drugstores and legal consultants to assist its members with special Services. Information taken from a meeting of the group, Moscow, July 29, 1989. The Moscow city soviet has also registered a number of social groups, which has the effect of conferring legitimacy on the groups,

12 Social Movements and Civil Society in the Soviet Union A ndrew Arato

T h e analysis of social movements and independent social initiatives is an indispensabíe part of our study of Soviet society in the midst of its great transformation. It is in this context above all that the best contemporary social Science, free of the common bias for the leaderships and central elites characteristic of both oldèr scholarship and present-day journalism, can make its most important contribution. T h e chapters of the present volume, taken as a whole, represent the first comprehensive assessment of the world of social movements and collective action in the Soviet Union, and the information they provide in itself expands our knowledge and potentially our comprehension of the dramatic processes now taking place. To be sure, focusing on areas which are inevitably partial the authors for the most part cannot evaluate the general significance of the movements studied, and even less the whole world of movements and initiatives, for the transformation of Soviet society. W hat any reader, outside the taxonomic student of movements and collective action perhaps, will justíy question after reading the essays is the difference movements and citizen initiatives makedn terms of the aiternative possible outcomes of what has been put in motion under the catchwords of glasnost and perestroika. It is my belief, confirmed by the preceding chapters, that the exact place of independent collective action in Soviet society is best understood in terms that link the concept of social movements to that of civil society. In turn, the complex reality of social movements in the Soviet Union can be best studied by a theory capable of distinguishing between movements dedicated to the establishment of new social systems and movements seeking to construct identities and defend interests within aiternative social systems— the present one and the one that is emerging or is at least anticipated by many actors. Finally, the role of the movements of civil society in the transformation of Soviet society can be most fruitfully evaluated at the present state of our knowledge in comparison with other Soviet197


Perestroika from Below

tvpe societies whose “trapsitions” frormthe established state socialist regimes are on the whole more advanced.

Civil Society in the Soviet Union I understand civil society as a sphere of social interaction between economy and state, composed above all of associations and publics. M odem civil society is created through forms of self-constitution and self-mobilization and is institutionalized through laws, especially subjective rights that stabilize social differentiation. It would be misleading however to identify civil society with all of social life outside the administrative state and economic processes in the narrow sense. Firstly, it is necessary and meaningful to distinguish civil society from a political society of parties, political organizations, and political publics in particular parliaments. T h e latter to be sure generally arise from civil society and share with it both forms of organization and communication. But directly involved with state power, which they seek to control and in part obtain, the structures of political society cannot aíford to subordinate strategic criteria to the patterns of normative integration and open-ended communication characteristic of civil society. Even the pubiic sphere of political society, rooted in parliaments, involves important formal and temporal constraints in processes of communication. T h e political role of civil society in turn is not directly related to the control or conquest of power but to the generation of influence, through the life of democratic associations and unconstrained discussion in the cultural pubiic sphere. Such a political role is inevitably diffuse and inefficient. Thus the mediating role of political society between civil society and state is indispensable, but so is the rooting of political society in civil societv1 Secondly, the differentiation of civil society from the economy on the one hand and political society/state on the other seems to suggest that the category somehow should include and refer to all phenomena of society, outside of the state, the economy and political society in the narrow sense. But this is the case only to the extent that we focus on relations of association, of self-organization and organized communication. Civil society in fact represents only a dimension of the sociological world of norms, roles, practices, competences and forms of dependence, or a very particular angle of looking at this world from the point of view of conscious association building and associational life.2 T h e importance of the concept of civil society for the study of the Soviet Union has not gone unnoticed. Whereas the earlier “totalitarian” paradigms have generally identified the Soviet regime with the obliteration of civil society and the total atomization of society, a whole series of scholars now contests this judgement. Most strikingly, Moshe Lewin, who first introduced the notion of civil society to the study of social change in the Soviet Union, considers a slowly developing and expanding civil society in the midst of modernization to be responsible for the

Social Movements and Civil Society


Gorbachev phenomenon.3 1 think it is necessary to navigate between these extremes, and the conceptual framework introduced here ãllows us to do so. Lewin is quite right in maintaining against the metaphor of “ totalitarianism” that the Soviet party-state has been able to penetrate and regulate all spheres of life at best only during the highly mobilizing and openly terroristic phase of the regime, namely high Stalinism. Subsequent developments, in particular decreasing leveis of forced mobilization, economic development and related processes of stratification, grovving consumption, and finally the deliberate if partial de-poiiticization of the private spnere— in a word, growing societal complexity— have made the central control of all societal relations and processes less and less plausibie. Indeed, the surviving dimensions of a totalitarian project contributed not to greater central control but to the undermining of the mechanisms of controi, as vvell as the integration of the society to be controiled. Nevertheless, the train of argument implies the seif-regeneration of civil society only if we identifv all of society outside the state with civil society, the building of a modem civil society with modernization tout court, in other words with growing social complexity. T h e definition suggested here implies that we should not do so; the existence of social processes and relations independently of the state is only a necessary, but not a sufficient condition of a modern civil society. Thus the assumption of the earlier totalitarianism thesis should be in part supported; high Stalinism indeed destroyed an independtnt civil society, and the modernization pattern of the post-Stalinist period has reconstituted only some of its preconditions. T h e phenomena of growing societal complexity to which Lewin first pointed, and even the increasing de-statization of the microsphere of face-to-face interaction he seems to stress more recently are necessary, but not sufficient for the constitution of even an embrvonic civil society.4 Since independent movements and initiatives and especially legal institutionalization did not emerge in the pre-Gorbachev period, we cannot for that time period speak of a “slowly recovering” civil society. More is at stake than simply a definition. If processes of modernization in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s had in fact produced most of the elements of a modern civil society, then we might assume that the changes required today can be restricted to the politicaí and economic realm. Such an assumption would, in my view, lead to a dramatic underestimation of what is to be done, indeed to a neglect of many of the key social preconditions (legal, organizational, cultural etc.) of a successful economic and politicaí transformation. It is time furthermore to recognize that the whole Soviet pattern of modernization is a failed and even pathological one, endangering for some time to come the building of a genuineíy modern politicaí culture. As we have seen, especially but not exclusively in Romania, a democratic civil society even today is not the only possible outcome of the passing of the Communist regime. If modernization were identical to the emergence of civil society the Outlook for democratization would be better than the present situation in several countries around the globe seems to indicate. And though such prospects are not at all hopeless in Eastern Europe


Perestroika from Below

and the Soviet Union, we should avoid a us.e of concepts that would lead to a false optimism. * Secondly, the confusion of the processes of modernization, industrialization, social stratification, urbanization, education and increasingly modem technologies of communication with the institutional network of a civil society implies that “the Gorbachev phenomenon” can be attributed to the pressure and activity of an organized society from below which has long preexisted the actual reforms.5 Such a view would be empirically spurious, as we see from all of the studies in this volume, which point to a very low levei of independent social organization even in the early Gorbachev period. More seriously, the idea has deterministic consequences to the extent that political processes are reduced to functions of long-term, massive and presumably irreversible changes in the whole social structure, underestimating the instability and the risks of the processes which we currently witness, and the decisive importance of the role of social and political actors that face a variety of alternative courses of action even today. Such an argument substitutes abstract criteria of general sociologv for categories of collective action and tends therefore to de-emphasize the role of independent initiatives and movements, without which the older cycle of partial reform and retrenchment cannot be broken.6

The State and Social Movements T h e current volume helps us to decisively break with any deterministic sociological analysis of the processes of change in the Soviet Union. T h e authors bring to attention two types of collective actors, those of an independent civil society (in formation) and, to a lesser extent, the state. For reasons already discussed, State actors cannot be left out of this volume on social movements: in the Soviet Union civil society is initially so underdeveloped (in contradistinction to Poland, for example) that a series of measures from above was required to provide the “opportunity structure” , as noted by Jim Butterfield and Mareia Weigle, for the beginning of self-organization. T h e reasons for launching such a risky project, the fears and expectations of the regime or some of its elites are not discussed by the authors of the more specialized studies. But it seems clear enough from the analyses of Butterfield and Weigle and Russell Bova in particular, that having decided on radical reform the Gorbachev group carne to learn that such a policy cannot be carried out in the face of entrenched and conservative organizational interests without pressure from below, or to change the spatial metaphor, from outside the organizational logic of the established institutions. T h e difficult project of peresiroika as it was first conceived follows from this lesson: in order to have a reform radical enough to work, the regime needed independent initiatives and pressure; but in order to keep change within any possible meaning of reform (i.e., in a framework still consistent with the central principies of the system as key elites of the regime conceived these), these movements had to be kept within

Social Movements and Civil Society


some definite limits. Somehow, genuine independence was supposed to be limited, planned and controlled— almost a contradiction in terms. T h e dialectic of perestroika flows frorn this initial dilemma. As I have argued elsewhere, if movements and initiatives promoted from above are to be independent enough to really make a difference, they may be too independent to be controlled. If however they can be controlled, their ability to achieve their intended effects may be severely limited.7 T h e analyses of the book allow us to make this paradox more precise in terms of five possible scenarios: 1. T h e attempt to control and properly “dose” independence may succeed, but the groups in question fail to have an effect on conservative resistance to change. This is the case of the creation of factory or enterprise councils bv the enterprise law of June 1987, described by Bova. 2. Groups and initiatives do manage to seriously challenge and roll back conservative resistance, but the center loses control over them. This is the case of the ecological initiatives and movements presented by Ziegler and Marples; and indeed Butterfield and Weigle tend to see the complex world of independent group life taken as a whole largely in these terms. Assuming, as I do, that they are right, the question becomes whether the regime is capable of institutionalizing through the requisite laws and rights (rights of association, speech, press, assembly and strike law) the functioning of such groups. Butterfield and Weigle show that so far this institutionalization has not occurred, and Bovas analysis of the strike law, in my view at least, supports them. 3. T h e state succeeds in stimulating and in the end effectively controlling a movement that retains an important role in promoting the governments policy. Bova believes that even if the miners' strike movement initially belonged to the type of independent action growing bevond all State control, the settling of the strikes and even more the strike law of October 1989 provides a framework within which strike committees will remain both effective against conservative resistance and under the control of Gorbachevs group.8 4. Given the fact that the State apparatus could not maintain its political unity in the face of the ongoing reformism, the success of either independent or semiindependent initiatives motivates other State actors opposed to Gorbachevs group to come into the game of promoting independent or semi-independent initiatives. Bova and Judith Sedaitis document such an attempted role of conservative groupings in the apparatus and the oíficial unions to influence unofficial worker initiatives, the united or workers' fronts. These attempts have had one great liability, the unpopularity of the conservative apparatus and its ideology, and one great advantage, the largely negative effects of half-hearted or even paper economic reforms that destabilized old steering structures without producing viable new ones. But the dialectic of control and independence applies to conservative as well as reformist State actors; they may be preparing the ground for a future radical and egalitarian populism rather than for a successful conservative backlash.


Perestroika from Below

5. To Butterfield and Weigle, the various cultural and ecological movements of the most radical republics, bqth linked to nationalism, seem to belong to the category of movements promoted by state actors opposed to the center. It seems to me however, that even if their judgement is relevant to early stages of development when republican administrative structures were (segmentally) differentiated parts of the imperial state, today we must analyze such contexts differently. I am not denying the splintered, muiti-leveiled, or multi-agency structure of the state, especially relevant to say Belorussia and Latvia. Rather, I am suggesting the possibility that some republican administrative organizations had been captured by their national movements, that as a result they are now detached from the central state organization vvithout however fully attaining the status of independent States. In such contexts then, independent movements through genuine parliaments or extra-parliamentary pressure now control or decisively influence fragments of former administrative structures instead of being controlled by them, in the face of an imploding imperial center which however retains for the moment the monopoly of the important means of violence. This scenario implies a process of politicization of social and cultural movements, all the more effective because of the resources in the hands of republican governments, and because nationalist ideology helps to overcome potential fissures and conflicts among different movements and initiatives. To be sure, there is a continued possibility of conflict among different nationalist movements, and in Rússia itself between democratic and nationalist movements as well. From the point of view of the central state, obviously, only the third alternative is fully acceptable. Butterfield and Weigle present five strategies by which movements and initiatives are to be somehow channelled into a path desired by the regime:, open cooperation, co-optation, pre-emption, mere toleration and open antagonism. As their examples show however, the first and fourth strategies merely strengthen movements vvithout any guarantee of control; the second and third tend to make them useless from the point of view of the regimes aims; and the fífth, open antagonism, cannot limit their expansion and proliferation without a turn to outright if selective repression. W hile this last course has not been entirely absent, any great reliance on it would endanger even the reform project of the centrists around Gorbachev. Yet as we have seen in the case of Lithuania the possibility cannot be altogether excluded, and even one of the most powerful independent collective actors in the Soviet Union, the Sajudis government, had to be ready to practice the art of self-limitation. On the other side, given the proliferation of the number and type of independent challenges to the regime, the avenue of selective repression will now accomplish little. There seems to be no way today for the present crumbling one-party regime to keep independent social initiatives within desired limits.

Social Movements Old and New T h e apparent inability of the regime to control “the Frankenstein' (Bova) it helped to create, namely the independent movements and collective actors, does

Social Movements and Civil Society


not automatically mean that these themselves are able on their own to resolve the crisis of Soviet society by relying on their institutions and resources alone. Too heterogeneous and potentially in conflict, they would need either some fundamental framework of consensus or institutions of interest aggregation and the formation of compromise to produce anything resembling a common project. Such institutions today (or at the time of the writing of most of the essays) are still under the (to be sure tottering) control of the established regime. Too weak to simply overthrow the central authorities, but more importantly, not being revolutionary movements, unwilling to risk total rupture and the resulting chãos, the movements and initiatives would need new institutions of political mediations through which the influence of a more and more active public could be turned into power. Today we are witnessing the emergence not only of countless new parties and political movements, but even more important, on the republican levei, independent and freely elected parliamentary assemblies. Given the present political structure of the whole, and especially the turn toward presidentialism in the center, these new bodies only raise the problems of missing mediations and of polarization to the most explosive levei, that between the republics and the central power. This most spectacular contradiction to some extent disguises the fact that there is no guarantee that, once fully developed, parties and independent assemblies will maintain their now close relation to independent social mobilization. T h e paradox is that while the movements of civil society cannot achieve their aim without a turn to political society, the bargaining processes of a political society especially on the eve of radical economic reform may be incompatible with a full and open institutionalization of a democratic civil society.9 W hat kind of theory of movements can help us to analyze the difficult situation in which movements in the Soviet Union inevitably find themselves? For two reasons I doubt that the most recent American paradigms which some of the authors seem to rely on even if only implicitly will be of much help beyond pointing to the rather obvious fact that movements must acquire resources in order to be successful. First, these paradigms generally do not recognize the important dimension of movements building new identities, transforming political cultures, and engaging in symbolic forms of self-expression. In the Soviet Union, given the crisis of existing forms of social integration this dimension however is far more important than under conditions of cultural stability, where a general consensus conceming symbols and values can be presupposed and hence methodologically bracketed. In this context the earlier American symbolic interactionist paradigm used by Carol Nechemias shows more promise, though unfortunately she is forced to apply it to what is at best only a proto-movement for now, namely feminism. A method of this type, stressing both identity and organization, seems however indispensable to the study of all movements, and especially nationaíist movements.10 Secondly, contemporary resource mobilization and political conflict paradigms on the whole do not distinguish between movements seeking to establish a new social formation and movements acting within the existing one, or for that matter


Perestroika from Below

between movement scenâpios characterfstic for different formations.11 But in the Soviet Union, as a result of a form of “ mixed temporality” due to a failed form of modernization the analvsis inevitably encounters movement tvpes that belong to different fundamental “temporal modalities” or historical contexts of action. Clearly some movements are dedicated to the establishment of a societv entirely different from todays Soviet Union. T h e possibilities here range behveen the imagined Rússia of the past and the Western societies of the present. Others seek to represent their interests and preserve their identities within the framework of the established society that on the whole they seek to protect. Still others seek to raise problems and represent concerns characteristic of a society yet to be established, a liberal democratic society. These last projects in turn divide into ones parallel to the earlier nistorv of the existing liberal democratic societies, while others are continuous with the great issues of the day that have emerged as the results of more successful paths of modernization. Sometimes, to make matters worse, several of these leveis are to be found within a single movement. At issue are not only the different intentions of these movements, but the different logic of their action with respect to the issues of the day: economic reform, political democratization and the type of civil society that is emerging— modern or semitraditional, democratic or semi-authoritarian. W hat can unify such a conflict-ridden field of action, and how can its relationship to politics be institutionalized?12 T h e authors of the volume help us raise if not fully answer both of these questions, first and foremost by describing the heterogeneous field of collective action. Several movements are directly studied in the volume; others, like the more explicitly political nationalist and democratic move­ ments, enter only in relation to other movements. But the realitv that is reproduced for us is complex enough. T h e working-class movements and initiatives studied by Bova and Sedaitis involve first of all groups and organizations that are directly linked to political attempts to establish a new pluralist democratic society, to institutionalize a modern civil society. These groups are allied with various popular fronts, and in Rússia with democratic platforms and fledgling social democratic parties. There are other organizations, the official unions (V T sSP S) and the United Workers’ Fronts, that have the explicit political aim of preserving the established society not only against their democratic competitors, but also against the “centrist” Gorbachev reformers. To make their conservative project more acceptable, both these organizations seek to protect existing working class benefits or supposed benefits that are (or at least used to be) characteristics of the established paternalistic system (full employment, relative wage equalitv, lax work discipline, subsidized prices). Finally, there is a varietv of initiatives, which, as Sedaitis shows, have turned away from politics and seek to represent workers’ interest in a setting implicitly assumed to be one of an unfolding market economy. Here different patterns have emerged, if I understand her correctly, corresponding to early European radical svndicalism and industrial unionism of the American type, as well as modern unionism of the contemporary West European type.

Social Movements and Civil Society


There are obviously conflicts among all these tendencies. But to make the situation more complex, single organizations may unite several of them in perhaps uneasy constellations, much like Polish Solidarity of 1980-1981, which vvas both a movement for the liberation of civil society and a social movement combining syndicalist, nationalist and democratic dimensions.13 With the exception of the nationalist dimension, the miners7 strike committees seem to involve just such a combination, whose stability in the context of radical market-oriented reform might very well undergo a difficult test. Though I do not agree with Sedaitis that workers stand only to lose from radical economic reforms that are “anti-labor in essence,” the attempt to preserve working-class living standards will undoubtedly imply further conflicts between worker organizations and economic reformers, such as the group she describes in the case of the Leningrad Popular Front.14 No other movements described here involve a similar complexity. To start with perhaps the least complex trend sociologically, the unions and associations of cooperatives in Darrell Sliders presentation constitute both a movement for the establishment of a pluralist society, i.e., civil society, and the first set of genuine pluralist pressure groups acting as if they were already located in such a society. Unlike in the case of the workers7 groups, the reíationship of the cooperative movement to radical economic reform is unambiguously positive, and its reíationship to the established society equally negative. T h e same is true with respect to the established society in the case of ecological movement, though the reíationship to market-oriented reform is more ambiguous. T h e ecologists7 attitude toward the established society follows from the well-documented fact that the “ resource constrained77 economic model15 of authoritarian socialism has been evervwhere far more destructive of the environment than any other version of modem society. It is for this reason, as Ziegler rightly points out, that the Soviet Union has ecological movements without any expiicit emergence of post-materialist values, and in the midst of deprivation rather than economic success— unlike ecological movements in the West. Undoubtedly, a convergence with national resistance to a system perceived as colonialist has helped the formation of ecological movements in many republics, even though the disastrous forms of the exploitation of nature are in reality equally characteristic of center and periphery, and are functions of the economic model and not of the imperial structure. Nevertheless, Ziegler also rightly stresses that ecological movements will enter into conflicts with marketoriented reform as well as with schemes to privatize the economy and to attract foreign capital. This is so because uncontrolled markets, even if in themselves less destructive of the environment than Soviet-type economies, cannot correct and would more likely exacerbate the harm done by the latter. Accordingly, the complexity of the ecological movements in the Soviet Union lies in the fact that they combine the project of transition from state socialism, which inevitably must involve the creation of market economies, with pre-modern nostalgia for a civilization before industrialization on the one side, and a very modern criticai attitude to


Perestrcika from Below

the destructive side-effects^of modernization in all of its existing models on the other. * T h e beginnings of womens groups and networks as presented here by Nechemias and Laurie Essig and Tatiana Mamonova, representing the least ambiguous trend internally, nevertheless bring additional complexity and potential conflict to the whole context. Implying opposition to a system that has pushed women almost to the biological limit of survival as indicated by many demographic criteria, feminism in the Soviet Union represents an entirely modern tendency, even if this is not consciouslv considered by the few participants. Like other initiatives, of course, the first feminist initiatives respond critically to a pathological model of modernization that has eombined the entry of women into the work force with the survival of traditional forms of inequality in the family, in politics, and in the sociological order of status. As a result, a disproportionate part of the burdens of the economy of shortage falis on the backs of women. But since women are burdened both by the version of modernization and by surviving traditional attitudes, there is no possibility of nostalgia for the past in the case of feminist groups who find themselves, as Nechemias shows, in outright opposition to all trends preferring earlier arrangements to Soviet modernity. Such trends promote the removal of women from the world of work and the refurbishing of traditional gender inequality. To be sure, the situation is complicated by the fact that, as Essig and Mamonova point out, there is also a potential conflict with an economic reform that, in alliance with neo-traditionalist mentality, might very well seek to shift the burden of unavoidable unemployment to women. But here, too, the target of opposition is as much the neo-traditionalist mentality as the economic reform itself. It may be the case, of course, that given their present place in the employment structure, women can only be hurt by the first stages of a genuine economic reform. But unlike some of the ecologists who may have dreams of a pre-industrial national utopia, and some workers who may still prefer the paternalism of the old statesocialist regime, women must place their hopes in a new and different future that cannot come without radical economic change toward markets. It is another question, not fully answered by the chapters above, how conscious this insight has become among the emerging feminists. National, cultural and religious movements would further complicate this overall picture. But even on the basis only of movements represented in this volume, it is difflcult to escape the impression that the world of collective action has become uncontrollable from the point of view of the reformers whose actions contributed to its emergence, and can now only produce chãos as well as insurmountable difficulties for any rational policy, above all transition to a genuine market economy. This impression is wrong, as are the corresponding warnings of proponents of an unworkable “ reform dictatorship,” in the light of both East European experience and of evidence presented here. T h e fact that Solidarity in Poland was not only a social movement motivated by its own identity and interests, but also a movement for the liberation of civil society, implied its support and assistance for the organization

Social Movements and Civil Society


of other associations, groups and interest-representations which were potential competitors on the terrain of a new society. íts being a post-revolutionary workers' movement implied, furthermore, self-limitation with respect to the organization of differentiated spheres of life, especially the requirements of genuine economic self-regulation. This attitude has continued to this day, and it is a crucial support for the institution of a market economy by a legitimate, democratic government rather than a reform dictatorship. As different as Soviet history may be frorn that of Poland, the papers of this volume indicate many similar trends. To be sure there is little chance here of one movement carrying the aspirations of the whole Soviet society, though some movements do in certain individual republics.16 All the movements described, however, with the exception of the ones sponsored by conservative officialdom, contain the dimension of groups within a self-forming civil society struggling for its legal institutionalization. It is for this reason that we encounter not only instances of conflict but, repeatedly, phenomena of mutual support, as in the case of the cooperatives and miners, cooperatives and greens, miners and advocates of dem­ ocratic initiatives, ecologists and nationalists, etc. Leaving the two main instances of conservative workers’ groupings and aggressive and intolerant trends among nationalists to the side, there is a general convergence around a program that would establish a general legal framework for the normal functioning of collective action and initiative, namely an institutionalization of civil society. All the great conflicts of the day, including electoral competition, indicate the overwhelming strength of this tendency. And while the articles do not explore the relationship of the movements studied to revolutionary ideology or other for ms of fundamentalism, there is little evidence that any important trends today (outside of the conservatives and some nationalists) seek to impose a totaíized vision on the whole of society. T h e syndicalist movements described by Sedaitis, for example, do not seem to defend anarchist dreams or council communist utopias, but seem to fíght for specific forms of solidarity, autonomy and protection in the face of a coming market economy. As such they should in the end contribute necessary correctives to market rationality rather than a general resistance to it. Ultimateíy, the same should be true of ecological and feminist initiatives as well, which need a market economy for the decomposition o f the socio-economic model that they reject, even if they will not be able to accept in the end the establishment o f a 19thcentury liberal, uncontrolled version of this economy.

Social Movements and Political Society T h e argument that movements can converge in the formation of a pluralist civil society, and that they will not inhibit the transition to a market economy, does not yet provide an adequate picture of the role of independent initiatives from below in the transformation of the Soviet Union. Indeed this model takes us only, in terms of the Polish parallel used above, to a form of hopeless polarization


Perestroika from Below

between independent moyfements and state authority. In the Soviet Union, two factors have interfered with» such an outcome: (1) the continuation of genuine reformism from above, vvhich, unlike in Poland, did not allow the emergence of a consistent “we-they,” friend-enemy scenario, and (2) a turn to political society roughly at the same time, though in a more constrained form than in Poland. Given the differences among movements, and the republican fragmentation even of the same type of movement (in particular, nationalist mobilization), the elementary consensus around the desirability of a pluralist civil society remains brittle and unstable. In such a context it is difficult to develop “society vs. the state” scenarios, except in individual republics, whose unified movements, however, add to the disunity of the whole. Only a mobilization against a unified enemy unambiguously in the way of both the institutionalization of civil society and the autonomy of nationalities could make a stable, overarching consensus possible. T h e reformist party state has not so far served as such a target, unlike the Polish regime but very much like the Hungarian one of the eighties.17 Worse, on certain issues regime reformers have been closer to various strands in the opposition than some of them are to each other. As the Hungarian example from 1987 on shows, once regime reformers become conscious of th is state of affairs, they can substitute a strategy of dividing different segments of independent opinion and initiative for the increasingly unrealistic strategy of controlling opinion and initiative. In particular, the fault line between democratic and nationalist groups shows potential for such manipulation, as the example of Rússia and in different ways those of Azerbaidjan and Armênia already show. Similar fissures have opened up between nationalist and democratic movements in Hungary in 1987 and after; while in Poland such conflict, ready to burst open by late 1990, had to wait until the full demise of the original enemy. T h e Hungarian example thus shows that the divisions of civil society can be exacerbated by the strategies of regime reformers. But this country s example also shows that it is possible to create a strategic alliance of the main anti-regime groups on the levei of political society, in the form of round-tables that assume the strictly limited task of working out electoral rules of the game. Thus, as against the chaotic state of affairs in Bulgaria and Romania with their entirely unresolved nationality conflicts, a successful turn to political society, to a system of institutionalized, strategic party competition could be one way of dealing with the divisions of civil society in non-explosive ways. Elections do not mend the ruptures in civil society; they may even exacerbate them for a time (especially given the importation of Westem-type negative campaigning). Nevertheless, parliamentary mechanisms, with their built-in socializing potential for the participants, provide the possibility (though not the certainty) of dealing with these by negotiation and compromise.18 From the point of view of independent initiatives, the turn to political society has other advantages as well, which were probably more clearly understood by the actors themselves or by movement intellectuals than was the potential of dealing with fissures in civil society. First, electoral mobilizations in part compensate for

Social Movements and Civil Society


the failure to develop one inclusive movement of society and for the inability to achieve a high levei of ongoing mobilization against the state authority People who are afraid of participating in independent movements whose legality is never quite clear (especially in the Soviet Union), and those who may vvish to “free ride” may be mobilized for the first time in obviously legal but also “low-cost” electoral activity. After such experience, with its dimensions of politicization and solidarity-formation, their readiness to act may be in general enhanced. Second, participation in parliaments and the conditions of alliance formation and bargaining allow the pursuit of radical agendas with the help of inner regime forces that would otherwise only fear and oppose any extra-institutional struggle even for strictly limited goals. Thus, the parliamentary strategy further disunites the forces of the established regime— which is importani, given the oppositional movements' own potential disunity. Third, presupposing substantial representation of forces of an independent society, parliaments provide potential contexts for negotiating a transition, for avoiding a destructive breakdown of the existing authority with all the unpredictable and dangerous consequences of such coilapse in the case of an imperial super-power. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, even partiaíly controlled elections provide an opportunity for many movements to demonstrate large-scale support for their candidates and the absence of such support for candidates tied to the regime even when they claim independent nationalist or working-class credentiáls. Finally, given the inevitably self-chosen character of independent initiatives, in the absence of one over-arching movement of society, independent movements, however legitimate to their own constituency, suffer from a déficit of general democratic legitimacy. Their direct or indirect testing in elections can partiaíly remedy this déficit, at least for a time. From the point of view of independent movements, these advantages outweigh the main disadvantages, namely that partiaíly controlled elections can both relegitimate the regime and preserve conservative majorities. This destructive combination is worth the risk, because the surviving Controls over electoral slates and procedures themselves provide focal poínts for democratic mobilizations. As we have seen in Hungary and Poland, as well as Brazil, the logic of such a development is toward more and more open elections, and the differences between the spring 1989 and spring 1990 elections in the Soviet Union support this claim. T h e authors of this volume amply document the turn to poíitical society in the case of most independent social initiatives and groups. Such a turn can involve three forms: becoming a poíitical party (or generating one); various forms of electoral support for candidates; and establishing ongoing mechanisms of pressure and influence on deputies and parliamentary groupings. T h e problem of becoming a poíitical party or of forming poíitical parties has surfaced in almost all the movements studied in the volume. T h e debates in Zelenyi svit remind us of similar conflicts in Western and now East European green movements involving the fundamental question whether or not the need for a radical shift in civilization, implied by ecological criticism, can be truly


Perestroika from Below

represented by electoral and, parliament^ry parties inevitably involved in strategic alliance and compromise. O f course, defenders of a party-type organization point out that without engaging in the institutionalized game of politics no components of green programs can be implemented, which results in further devastating consequences to the environment. In the Soviet Union, as Marples implies, this point was couníered with the similarly strategic argument that ecologically relevant concessions could be gained while avoiding an unnecessary challenge to the ruling party. A similar position seemed to have been articulated in the cooperative movement, in response to attempts to generate a political party. In the unofficial, radical working-class movements which apparently produced some small political parties, the major groups seem to justify their turn away from explicit political involvement by the need to protect worker interests in face of all existing political trends. T h e end result of these debates about politics and anti-politics seems to have been the development of Green parties that, in the Western European style, hope to maintain ongoing relations with independent movements, while neither the cooperatives nor workers’ groups have yet produced viable political parties. In the case of the latter, intellectua! groupings do still hope to establish or reestablish social democratic and socialist parties which may in the end successfully recruit the members of radical worker organizations, especially the adherents of strike committees and independent unions. But in any case it should be noted that so far parties of this type have been effective only as members of inclusive popular fronts or parliamentary platforms. T h e same is true of the most important ecological grouping, the Ukrainian green party, which is an important member of Rukh , the Ukrainian popular front organization. Up till now, electoral activity on behalf of independent candidates, or inclusive fronts and platforms, and, equally important, against official candidates, has been the most important political role of independent movements. As Sedaitis shows, whatever advantages conservative workers’ organizations possess in grass-roots organizing, in the electoral game worker groups supporting pluralist groups and candidates have been far more successful.19 Though it is difficult to assess the actual degree of success, in relation to other organizations and groups the involvement of pluralist worker organizations in electoral demonstrations, campaigning and voter information has been massive, and candidates so supported did almost uniformly well, especially in large cities and mining regions. T h e same can be said for the electoral involvement of the cooperatives that were also in a position to offer financial support to friendly candidates. It should be noted that electoral participation has already been a major context for alliance-building among groups with otherwise divergent social interests and visions: the cooperative movements’ alliance with the Vorkuta miners is one example of this. Perhaps the least developed form of political participation so far is lobbying activity on behalf of an organized constituency. So far, only green groups and the cooperatives have utilized such a tactic, the former perhaps as a continuation of the bargaining processes typical within state socialist regimes, in which the


Social Movements and CÁvil Society

state provides a very m inor role for experts within the system . T h e pressure poíitics o f the cooperative m ovem ent, on thé other hand, are entirely in line with similar form s in pluralist polities, as Slider m aintains. N evertheless, the rather unusual success in this regard o f the cooperative m ovem ent seem s due not only to its own vigorous activity and leadership but also to an elective affinity betw een the interests o f these groups and the project o f radical m arket-oriented reform , for which the cooperatives represent a spearhead. Attacks against them in tu rn are only slightly disguised attem pts to underm ine and discredit econ om ic reform along with its m ost im portant advocates. U nder these conditions it is not surprising that radical deputies appear as a kind o f “ cooperative lobby,” w hich is more an appearance than a reality. N evertheless, the kind o f lobbying activity pioneered by the cooperative m ovem ent is likely to be im itated by others, if the organizational and legal preconditions, today largely absent, are in the fu tu re gu aran teed for pressure groups m ore generally. From the point o f view o f social m ovem ents, the tu rn to political society is not without its am biguities and negative features. S om e danger signs have been noted by ou r authors. Sedaitis points to the fact that the electoral activity o f social groups increasingly tends to be controlled and even m onopolized by professional organizers— who, I would assum e, are prom oting passivity and demobilization at the grass-roots levei. W e have seen fu rth erm ore how political officials originally sym pathetic to independent m ovem ents helped to en act a repressive strike law, not in order to shore up an unloved regim e, but to protect eco n o m ic reform from a potential excess o f econ om ic

dem ands. T h e re

is still a strong tem ptation


accom plish this goal not in negotiation and partnership with independent m ovem ents but by legislative and, lately, even presidential fiat. T h e road o f elite d em ocracy and parliam entary or presidential authoritarianism are functional equivalents o f a reform dictatorship, m ore dangerous b ecau se of the elem ent of d em ocratic legitim acy they possess. E co lo g ical, fem inist and workers’ m ovem ents, given the condition o f the Soviet eco n o m y today, have good reason to fear this road. It can be blocked only if the m ovem ents and friendly intellectuals dem onstrate that the interests they defend can be m ade com patible with the project o f econ om ic reform . It would be a disaster if in the end the interest o f econ om ic reform were tied up with parliam entary actors, while independent m ovem ents or what rem ained o f them were identified with a defensive attitude toward som e features o f the old regim e. But the new m ovem ents of the Soviet U nion will be able to propose relevant alternatives to such a defensive p osture only from a position of strength. T h is would in tu rn presuppose that they do not exhaust their activity on the levei o f political society, that they con tinu e the project o f building horizontal networks and organizations, and that they con tinu e to fight not only for a parliam entary d em ocracy and an econ om y consistent with their interests, but above ali for a legally and constitutionally anchored, open, d em ocratic and pluralist civil society. T h e tim e-fram e for such a project, as we now know from E ast E u rop ean exp erien ce, is by no m eans delimited by the end of a


Perestroika from Below

C o m m u n ist regim e. S om e especially difRcult tasks for independent m ovem ents in the Sovieí U nion are still ahead.

Notes 1. Both of these points were of course understood and stressed by Hegel ( The Philosophy ofRight), whose original framework is, however, modified here, in particular by distinguishing between civil society and the rnodern economy. For some of the reasons, see A. Arato, "Civil society, history and socialism: Reply to John Keane,” in Praxis International, 9 :1 / 2 (April & july 1989). 2. See Andrew Arato and Jean Cohen, Civil Society and Political Theory (Cambridge, MA: M .I.T. Press, 1991) for a full development of this conception of civil society. 1 am inclined to think that one needs a notion of economic society as well, as a form of mediation parallel to political society. 3. See Moshe Lewin, Political Undercurrents o f Soviet Economic Debates (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974) and Lewin, The Gorbachev Phenomenon (Berkeley, CA : University of Califórnia Press, 1988). 4. Compare Political Undercurrents„ 249ff., and The Gorbachev Phenomenon , 63ff., 8 0 -8 1 , and 1 4 6 -1 4 7 . The two arguments are similar in their sociological determinism, stressing inevitabilitv (p. 262 in the former) and irreversibility (p. 147 in the latter). To the extent that the first linked its case for a “subterranean political reality” to a model of action, its stress was on the (badly analyzed) reality of pressure groups and internai elite bargaining. The more recent position defines civil society (evidently in its Soviet version) as "the aggregate of networks or institutions that either exist or act independently of the State or are official organizations” capable of becoming independent and exerting pressure. While this rather loose linking of entities on very different leveis of social reality and action does point to components of independent initiatives in the Gorbachev era, it is extremely misleading to point to it as the growing civil society responsible for the beginning of reform in the first place. 5. This is the mistake I sense in S. Frederick Starrs fine essay "Soviet Union: A civil society” in Foreign Policy, 70 (Spring 1988). Starr, to be sure, does not confuse civil society with differentiated society as such. Nevertheless, he seems to imply that a noninstitutionalized but independent society had not only emerged in the Brezhnev era, but also that by the early eighties all social initiative had passed “from the State to society,” and above all to an independent public opinion. For Starr the state only has to follow these initiatives for a germine civil society to come into being. While the implicit idea that legal codification of the results of independent social initiatives institutionalizes civil society is correct, between modernization and institutionalization Starr misses the key dimension of the self-constitution of civil society in independent movements and initiatives, which is by no means the inevitable result of any modernization. 6. O f the analysts stressing the link between modernization and civil society, the views of Gail W7. Lapidus seem the most balanced and convincing. See: "State and society: toward the emergence of Civil Society in the Soviet Union,” in Bialer (ed.), Inside

Gorbachev’s Rússia (Boulder, C O : Westview Press, 1989). Like Lewin and Starr, Lapidus stresses the various dimensions of growing societal complexity. In her analysis, however, in the context of an intact Soviet political and economic regime, these phenomena lead

Social Movements and Civil Society


above all to the decomposition of social integration, to societal pathologies like corruption, alcoholism, low motivation and productivity, alienation and anomie, and the decline of important demographic indicators. For her, the social pressure of the pre-Gorbachev era manifests itself in the form of “exit” rather than “voice” . This analysis rightly points to the Gorbachev leadership itself, motivated by both the externai and internai conseqnences of social crisis, as the actor behind the beginning of the reform process, seeking to adapt to a new and more complex society. T h e constitution of at least a version of civil society, one only partially independent, is a key part of this reform strategy of adaptation, one that resulted in a dramatic proliferation of independent groups. Lapidus does not yet fully recognize that such a strategy may lead to a dilemma of either too little or tòo much societal independence. See the contributions of Castoriadis and Arato to Ferenc Feher and Andrew Arato (eds.), Gorbachev: the Debate (Oxford: Polity Press, 1989). 7. Again, see my essay as well as the one by Castoriadis in Gorbachev: the Debate. 8. I remain skeptical about the stability of this option, which can easily decompose into one of the other four. The recent attempts by some miners' organizations to establish a new, independent trade union coníirm my doubts. 9. See A. Arato “ Revolution, civil society and democracy,” in Working Papers on Transitions from State Socialism 9 0 :5 ; Comell Project on Comparative Institutional Analysis (Ithaca, New York, 1990). 10. For a general comparison of American (interest-based) and European (identityoriented) methods of social movements research, as well as a proposed synthesis, see Jean Cohen, “ Strategy and identity: Contemporary theoretical paradigms and the new social movements,” Social Research, 52: 4. For an application of a primarily identity-oriented method to Soviet-type societies see the fine paper by Andrzej Tymowski, “ East European social movements in the transition to democracy,” unpublished paper delivered at the 1990 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco. 11. See Cohen, “ Strategy and identity . . . ,” for the development of this criticism. To be sure, Cohen shows that Tilly distinguishes among alternative scenarios, up to the beginning of the modem capitalist epoch. But Tilly rejects the possibility of the emergence of new scenarios since the early 19th-century form that was generated above all by the classical working class movement. 12. In my view, a framework such as Alain Touraines helps us to discover such a complex reality far more than the works of his American competitors. See The Voice and

Eye: An Analysis o f Social Movements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) and Solidarity. Poland 1980-1981 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). It is another issue that his conception does not easily allow for either the bringing together of movement types based on different temporalities or a transition to the dimension of politics. In the resource mobilization perspective these issues cannot even appear as problems. 13. See Touraine, Solidarity. 14. I do not agree with Sedaitis because— among other reasons— the guaranteed welfare structure she refers to was already a shambles before the Gorbachev period, and the regime could no longer guarantee even slowly increasing living standards. More importantly, I believe the structure of interests of industrial workers links them not only to job guarantees and the subsidization of a very low standard of living, but also to the availability of goods of consumption (especially apartments), to an economy of time that allows the individual some free time with his or her friends and family, to the availability of information and

Perestroika from Below


forms of public expression, and to rights of aqtonomous organization, etc. I am willing to recognize, however, that all individuais under state socialism have a mixed interest structure both linking them to and separating them from the existing regime. More importantly in the present period, most individuais have both some things to gain and some things to lose in a market-oriented transformation. It is probably minorities, however, and not whole classes, that will exclusively lose or gain from the transformation. Industrial workers will for example gain the rights to freely organize, asseinble and strike. How can such a policy be described as “anti-labor in essence'’? 15. Janos Kornai, Contradictions and Dilemmas (Cambridge: M IT Press, 1986). 16. The unusual presuppositions for this in Poland, involving collective memories (even if partially mvthological) of a single, unified society struggling for its sovereignty and a rather homogeneous national community are well documented by Tymowski in “ East European social movements. . . .” 17. To be sure, the combination of Gorbachevs assumption of presidential decree powers, and the subsequent rejection of the Shatalin Plan of radical economic transition that is supported by several of the republics for the first time may imply such a “we-they,” frierid-enemy scenario. Given the control of many of the republics by the “we” component, this scenario tends to imply one of three alternatives: (1) civil war, (2) crackdown and repression from the center, or (3) the collapse of the center and at least temporary chãos. In such a context, a new so-called “Treaty of the Union” would be little more than a joke. 18. The Hungarian case so far speaks both for and against such a possibility. The campaign in the national election was polarizing; the one in local elections was not. The rejection of a great coalition by the victorious M D F (Hungarian Democratic Forum) exacerbated the divisions of the first campaign; the early agreement between this party and the opposing SzD Sz (Alliance of Free Democrats) on constitutional revisions and the presidency produced however for a time the possible beginning of a national consensus. From this whole experience three desiderata seem to emerge: (1) pluralistic electoral competition, (2) a governmental coalition transcending the main symbolic fault-lines of conflict, providing for the minimum national consensus necessary for the difficult policies of transition, and (3) the creation of a new constitution providing for the beginning of a genuinely common identitv. 19. Unlike Sedaitis I would not pay much attention to the decline of the number of “workers” in the legislature, their earlier presence being formal and ritualistic. I wonder furthermore whether the unwillingness of electors (also industrial workers given the numbers involved?) to vote for worker candidates expresses an “anti-worker bias” or only a hostility to conservative organizations that present their candidates in these terms.

Index Abakumov, Igor’, 55 Abalkin, Leonid, 41n, 152, 189 Acceleration (uskorenie), 3, 11 n Adamovich, Ales’, 137, 180 Adylov, Akhmadzhan, 45 Afanasev, Iurii, 154, 180 Agrarian Deputies’ Group (Congress of Peoples Deputies), 44 , 4 8 -5 1 , 62 Agrarian Union, All-Russian, 5 8 -5 9 , 60, 61 Aidak, Arkadii, 57, 58 Aitmatov, Chingiz, 128 AKKOR. See Association of Peasant Farms and Cooperatives of Rússia Alexander II, 75 All-Union Central Council of Professional Unions (VTsSPS). See Trade unions, official Anan’ev, Anatolii, 53 Anarcho-Syndicalists, 7, 16. See also Syndicalism Andropov, Iurii, 31 Arai Sea, 114, 118, 125 Armênia, 116, 119, 153, 158, 208 Association of Cooperatives in the Spheres of Production and Services, All-Union (Union of United Cooperatives), 54 Association of Peasant Farms and Agricultural Cooperatives of Kazakhstan, 54-55 Association of Peasant Farms and Cooperatives of Rússia (AKKOR), 44, 47, 5 3 -5 7 , 59, 62, 63 Association of the Sexual Minority, 107 Association of Socialist Trade Unions (,SotsProf), 22, 24 Association of Trade Unions of Workers of Cooperatives Enterprises, All-Union, 158 Auzan, A., 26n Avaliani, T., 21 Azerbaidjan, 115, 119, 153, 208

Baikal, Lake, 117, 122-123, 124 Baltic Repubücs, 2, 5, 15, 18, 21, 39, 56, 70n, 81, 115, 120, 121, 150, 158, 169, 176 Baranskaia, Natalia, 79 Bashmachnikov, Vladimir, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62 de Beauvoir, Simone, 88 Beliaeva, Lilia, 90 Beliaeva, Nina, 87, 92 Belorussian Republic, 2, 15, 18, 20, 26n, 56, 115, 135, 137, 149, 153, 155, 176, 178-180, 385, 190, 202 Berdyshev, A., 53 Bessolova, Olga, 107 BíRLIK. See Unity Movement for the Preservation of Uzbekistans Natural, Material and Spiritual Riches Biriukova, Aleksandra, 82, 8 3 -8 4 , 85, 101, 150 Black Berets. See Specíal Forces Bodiul, Ivan, 119 Boguslavskaia, Zoia, 92 Boldyreva, T., 86, 102, 103, 104 Bondarev, iurii, 124, 125 Brazil, 209 Brezhnev, Leonid, 4, 13-14, 31, 34, 40n, 45, 48, 114, 119, 122, 126, 133, 139, 176, 185, 189, 193n. See also Stagnation, era of Bukharin Political Club, 149 Bukovsky, Vladimir, 2 Bulgaria, 208 Cardin, Pierre, 9 7 -9 8 Central Asia, 70n, 81, 82, 118, 119, 122, 124-125, 149, 154 Chafe, William, 75 Chazov, Evgenii, 119 Chebrikov, Victor, 188 Cherkasova, Maria, 115




Cherníchenko, Iurii, 52, 55, 6^ v Convention on Protection of the Marine Chernenko, Konstaníin, 167 * Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 121 Chernobyl, lln , 114, 116, 133, 134-137, 138. 140, 142. 190 Cooperatives, 7 -8 , chapter 9, 205, 207, 211 Corporatism, 43, 46, 58, 64, 65n, 114 Civil society, 11, 98, 106-108, 175, 190, Councils of Labor Collectives, 30, 32, 34 191, 192n, chapter 12 Council of Workers’ Committees, 19 Club for Democratic Perestroika, 176, 182— Czechoslovakia, 146 183, 184, 186 Club of Womens Initiatives, 87, 90, 107 Coliective farms. See Kolkhoz Dashkevich, I., 22 Committee Democratic Bloc, Ukrainian, 143n for the Defense of Peace, Ukrainian, 138 Democratic Movement (Moldavia), 115, 120 for State Security (KGB). 23, 75, 107. Democratic Party, Ukrainian, 143n See alsG Chebrikov, Victor Democratic Platform, 15 on Agrarian Questions and Food Supply, Democratic Rússia (Demokraticheskaia Congress of Peoples Deputies, 51 Rossiia), 7, 15, 62 on Agrarian Questions (Problems), Democratic Union, 4, 175, 188 Supreme Soviet, 50, 5 3 -5 4 , 57 Democratic Workers’ Movement, 16 on Ecology and Efficient Use of Natural Democratization (demokratizatsiia), 4 -5 , 17, Resources, 127, 128, 124 31-33, 39, 50, 116, 129 on the Social Development of the Village, Dudko, Sviatoslav, 138, 139 Agrarian Problems and Food Supplies, Dzandosov, S., 55 Russian Repubiic, 53 Communist Partv of the Soviet Union, 5, 6, “Ecological Initiatives,” 115 13, 14, 17, 21, 22, 34, 47. 55, 56, 89, “Ecology and the World,” 124 101, 113, 117, 118, 122, 123, 146, 170, Efimov, Vladimir, 53, 54, 62 175 Elections ap parat, 15, 19, 2 9 -3 0 , 32, 3 7 -3 9 , 63, 1989, 2, 5 -6 , 17, 18, 33, 127, 131, 143n, 114, 154 156, 191, 209 apparaichik(i), 17, 44, 55, 56, 83, 183 1990, 2. 6, 14-16, 33, 49, 52, 127, 191, January 1987 Central Committee Plenum, 209 4 -5 pre-Gorbachev, 3 March 1989 Central Committee Plenum, “ Elections ’9 0 ,” 7 53 EPtsin, Boris, 33, 34, 39, 60, 80, 154, 168, Februarv 1990 Central Committee 180 Plenum, 55 EmePianov, Aleksei, 53, 55, 56 19th Partv Conference, june 1988, 5, 32, Episentr, 115 180, 181 Estonian Green Movement, 114, 120 27th Partv Congress, 1986, 125 Estonian Repubiic, 39, 114, 153, 171 28th Partv Congress, 1990, 52, 84 Evtushenko, Evgenii, 80, 123, 125, 180 Communist Partv, Ukrainian, 127, 138, 140, 141 Fatherland (Otechestvo), 176, 183-184, 186 Confederation of Trade Unions of Fedorov, Andrei, 148 Emplovees of Cooperatives and Other Filshin, Gennadi, 122 Forms of Free Enterprise, All-Union, Free Inter-Professonal Association of 158 Workers, 22 Congress of Peoples Deputies Friedan, Betty, 88 Russian Repubiic, 53 USSR, 5, 12n, 14, 16, 26n, 3 3 -3 4 , 38, Gamson, William, 184-185 44 , 4 8 -5 1 , 55, 70n, 80, 81, 115, 120, Georgian Repubiic, 149, 153, 158, 172, 188 127, 140, 155

Index Glasnost, 1-4, 6, 9, 10, 12n, 29, 39, 78, 98, 113, 116, 129, 141, 175, 186, 187, 190, 197 Gorbachev, Mikhail, 1, 3 -5 , 9, 10, 13, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37, 39. 40, 50, 51, 60, 63, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 88, 105, 113, 114, 115, 116, 122, 124, 128, 129, 133, 146, 165,167, 168,175, 180, 181, 187, 188, 189, 190, 195n, 199, 200, 202, 204 Gorin, Vasilii, 58 Gosagroprom. See State Agro-Industrial Committee Gosplan. See State Planning Committee Grav, Francine du Plessix. See du Plessix Grav, Francine Greenpeace, 141 Green Partv, Ukrainian, 141, 142, 143n,

210 Grodzinsky, Dmytro, 138 Grossu, Semen, 120 Hacker, Helen Mayer, 77 Hansson, Carola, 91 Hlazovy, Andrii, 141 Hromada, 139 Hungary, 146, 208, 209 “Human Fate,” 90 Huntington, Samuel, 49 Iablokov, Aleksei, 124 Iazov, Dmitrii, 116 Ilyin, Leonid, 135 Ínter-City Workers’ Club, 20, 23, 24 International Atomic Energy Agencv (IAEA), 135 International Fronts (Interfronts), 169 Inter-regional Cooperative Federation, 149 Inter-regional Group of Deputies, 38, 39, 47, 55, 154, 156 Ivashko, Volodymyr, 142 “Justice” (Spravedlivost’), 22 Kadyrov, Timur, 5 3 -5 4 , 55 Kalashnikov, Vladimir, 50 Kauls, Albert, 47 Kazakhstan, 20, 54-55, 56, 119, 148, 157 KGB. See Committee for State Security Kharitonov, Nikoli, 62 Khrushchev, Nikita, 11 n, 45, 63, 79, 193n

217 Killian, Lewis, M., 74 Kirgizia, 154, 158 Kolkhoz (collective farm), 4 3 -5 0 , 52. 56­ 61, 64, 65n, 66n Kolkhoz councils, 43, 46-49, 52, 55, 57 -6 0 , 62, 63 Kolkhoz unions, 48 Kolkhoztsentr, 48 Kommersant, 151 Komsomol, 6, 88, 121, 145, 188 Krasnoiartsev, N., 97 Kravtsov. Boris, 182, 188 Kropotkinskaia 36, 148 Kukhar’, Ivan, 57, 59, 60 Kulik, Gennadi, 59 Kungurova, Nina, 103 Kurahsvili, Boris, 189 Kurapaty Woods, 179 Kuzmin, Apollon, 183 Kuznetsova, Larisa, 87

Ladoga, Lake, 118, 122, 125 Lake Baikal. See Baikal, Lake Lake Baikal Protection Society, 122 Lapshin, M., 53 Latvian Republic, 90, 121, 150, 153, 155, 176-178, 186, 190, 202 Latvian Culture Fund, 176-178, 185 Law on Cooperatives (Cooperation), 46, 146, 159 on Land, 46, 51-53 on the Peasant Farm, Russian republic, 56 on Procedures for Resolving Collective Labor Disputes (Conflicts), 35-37 on the State Enterprise (Association), 30, 31, 37 League for Societys Liberation from Stereotypes (LO TO S), 90 Legasov, Valerii, 135 Lenin Agricultural Academy, All-Union (VASKhNIL), 51 Lewin, Moshe, 198-199 Liden, Karin, 91 Ligachev, Egor, 44 , 56, 60, 61, 70n Lipovskaia, Olga, 88, 107 Lithuanian Republic, 15, 20, 79, 153, 168, 171, 172, 202 Lithuanian Womens Association, 90 Lithuanian Workers’ Union, 21


218 LOTOS. See League for Sociôty s Liberation from Stereotypes^ Lucinschi, Petru, 120 Machine-Tractor Stations, 48 MacKinnon, Catherine, 108 Makar, Ivan, 139 Manaenkov, Iurii, 57 Manshin, Aleksandr, 56 Mao Zedong, 63 Marchuk. Gennadi, 124 Mariia, 75 Martyrology, 179 Masol, Vitalii, 142 Mateevici Club, 115 Medvedyev, Roy, 2, 180 Memorial Societv, 176, 180-181, 185, 186, 189, 190, 193n Memory (Pamiat’), 183 Michels, Robert, 173 Military, 23, 116, 122 Milova, O., 86 Ministry of Culture, Latvian, 176-178 of Culture, All-Union, 180-181, 185 of Finance, 152 of Health, All-Union, 137 of the Interior, Belorusian, 179 of Justice, All-Union, 154, 176, 181-182, 185, 186 of Land Reclamation and Water Resources, 119, 125, 134 of Timber, Pulp and Paper, and Lumber, 122, 124 Miscarea verzilor, 114 Moldavian Republic, 114, 120, 155, 188 Moidavian Green Movement, 114, 120 Moore, Barrington, 43 Morgun, Fedor, 127, 138 Nationalism, Russian, 2, 6 3 -6 4 , 119, 122, 128, 169, 183, 193n Naumov, Vladimir. 59 Nicholas I, 75 Nikitin, Vladilen, 50, 60 Nikonov, Aleksandr, 52 Nomenklatura, 6, 49, 63, 145 Noonan, Norma, 98, 99 Noosfera, 139 Novikova, Elvira, 78, 86, 106

Odintsova, Nonna, 107 Okudzhava, Bulat, 180 Olson, Mancur, 158 Otechestvo. See Fatherland

Pamiat’. See Memory Party of Labor Council, 16 Pavlychko, Dmytro, 139, 144n Peasant Party of Rússia, 44, 47, 57, 62 Peasant Union, Moscow, 54 Peasant Union, USSR, 44, 47, 5 7 -6 2 , 63 Perestroika, 1 -6 , 9, 13, 14, 20, 24, 29, 32, 35, 38, 43, 78, 79, 97, 98, 107, 113, 116, 134, 175, 190, 197, 200, 201 du Plessix Gray, Francine, 105 Poland, 200, 207, 208, 209 Political Union of Cooperators of Latvia, 155 Polozkov, Ivan, 156 Poltaranin, Mikhail, 80 Popov, Gavril, 154, 190 Popov, Mikhail, 18 Popova, Nadezhda, 80 Popular Front Azerbaidjan, 119 Belorussian, 15, 176, 178-180, 185, 186 Estonian, 120 Latvian, 5, 121, 173, 186, 187, 190 Leningrad, 18, 205 Lithuanian (Sajudis), 5, 14, 171, 172, 173, 179, 202 Moldavian, 172, 173 Moscow, 182 Ukrainian (Rukh), 15, 139, 141, 143, 210 Popular Fronts, 9, 15, 49, 168, 173 Baltic, 5, 7, 169 Posadskaia, A., 85, 103 Procuracy, 147, 182 Public Committee to Save the Prut River, 115 Pukhova, Zoia, 83, 85 Radical Association for Peace and Freedom, 107 Rasputin, Valentin, 122, 123, 125, 128 Repubican Party, Ukraine, 139, 142 Reutov, Vladimir, 51 Rimashevskaia, N., 85, 103 Romanenko, Anatolii, 135 Romania, 199, 208 Rossiia, 149, 155, 189

Index RUKH. See Popular Front, Ukrainian Russian Nationalism. See Nationalism, Russian Ryzhkov, Nikolai, 23, 38, 50, 51, 56, 59, 60, 78, 83, 154

Sújudis. See Popular Front, Lithuanian Sakharov, Andrei, 2, 33, 154, 180, 181 Shcherbak, Andrei, 115, 137, 138-142, 144n Selkova, Nina, 82, 83, 85 Semenova, Galina, 84 Shalaiev, Stepan, 16, 17 Shatalin Plan, 12n Shatrov, Mikhail, 180 Shcherbitsky, Voíodymyr, 139, 142 Shkliarevsky, Grigorii, 137 Shevchenko, Oles, 139 Shevchenko, Valentina, 142 Shmelev, Nikolai, 14, 38 Skrypnyk, M. P , 138 Sobchak, Anatolii, 39, 156 Social Science Council on the Interaction of Man and the Biosphere, 115 Social contract, 13-14, 22, 45 Social Democrats, 24 Socialist Party, 15, 24 Socialist legality, 2 Socio-Ecological Union, 115 Soglaev, Iurii, 53 Solidarity (Kalingrad), 21 Solidarity (Poland), 146, 157, 205, 206 Solov’ev, Iurii, 26n Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, 2 Sorokin, V., 149, 150 SOK. See Union of Associated Cooperatives SotsProf. See Association of Socialist Trade Unions Soviet Culture Fund, 177 Sovkhoz (state farm), 4 3 -5 0 , 52, 5 6 -6 0 , 64, 65n, 66n Special Forces (Spetsnazy), 188 Spadshchyna, 139 Spizhenko, Iurii, 137 Spravedlivost’. See “Jushce” Stagnation, era of (vremia zastoia ), 3, lln , 16. See also Brezhnev, Leonid Stalin and Stalinism, 1, 2, 4, 10, 30, 45, 46, 47, 106, 138, 139, 165-167, 175, 183, 189, 191, 195n, 199 Starodubtsev, Dmitrii, 49 Starodubtsev, Vasilii, 49, 50, 52, 5 8 -63

219 State Agro-Industrial Committee

{'Gosagroprom) All-Union, 124 Belorussian, 54 Kazakhstan, 55 Latvian, 187 Non-Black Earth Zone of the Russian Republic, 59 Russian Republic, 53, 61 State Committee for Education, Latvia, 177 State Commission for Food Supplies and Procurements, All-Union, 60, 61 State Committee for Hydrometeorology and the Environment, All-Union ( Gidromet), 126, 131 n State Committee for Labor, 154 State Committee for Nature Protection ( Goskompriroda), All-Union, 124-126, 138 State Committee for Nature Protection, Ukrainian, 138 State Committee for Science and Technology, All-Union, 124 State Committee for Youth, All-Union Lenin. See Komsomol State farm. See Sovkhoz State Planning Committee ( Gosplan), 124, 125, 126 Steinbriks, Bruno, 188 Strauss, Murray, 98 Strike committees, 8, 9, 15, 20, 23, 24, 35, 36, 37, 154-155, 205. See also Trade unions, unofficial Stroev, Egor, 56, 60 Sugarman, David, 98 Supreme Soviet pre-1989, 12n, 14, 30, 32, 147, 181 1989, 12n, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 29, 36, 37, 39, 50, 52, 87, 101, 115, 127, 128, 140, 151, 154, 155, 156, 159, 181, 188 Committee on Agragian Questions. See Committee on Agrarian Questions Estonian, 39 Latvian, 121, 153, 177 Russian Republic, 18, 56, 155 Ukrainian, 135, 137, 140, 142, 143n, 155 Uzbekistan, 155 Suslov, Ivan, 55 Syndicalism, 2 2 -2 4 , 25, 204, 205, 207. See also Anarcho-Syndicalists

220 Tadzhikistan, 81, 119, 148, 157 ' Talaka, 179 Tarasov, Artem, 151, 154, 155 Tekhnika, 151 Terkom. See Trade unions, unofficial, Ukrainian Tikhonov, Vladimir. 51, 52, 5 3 -5 4 , 55, 151, 154, 155 Tokareva, Victoria, 92 Tolstaia, Tatiana, 91 Trade Union of Cooperative Workers, Russian Republic, 157 Trade unions Official, 16-19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26n, 34, 37, 38, 145, 156-157, 204 Unofficial, 13, 15, 2 1 -2 4 , 33 -3 5 , 37. See also strike committees Ukrainian {Terkom), 15 Trade Union of Workers of Cooperatives, Russian Republic, 157 Turkmenistan, 81 Turner, Ralph H., 73 Tuteishiia, 179 Ukrainian Peace Committee, 125 Ukraine, 2, 115, chapter 8, 148, 153, 155, 156, 158 Union of Advocates, 176, 181-182, 185, 186 Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, Peasant Farms and Organizations of A rendatory, Belorussia, 54 Union of Associated Cooperatives, Russian Republic, 147, 155 Union of Associated Cooperatives (SOK), 150-152, 154, 158 Union of United Cooperatives. See Association of Cooperatives in the Spheres of Production and Services, All-Union Union of Cooperatives Kazakhstan, 155 Moscow, 148, 152 Russian, 149

Index Union of Cooperatives in the Sphere of Production and Services, All-Union, 149, 155 Union of United Cooperative Members, 24 United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW ), 78, 99, 107 United Workers’ Front, 17-18, 38, 204 of Leningrad, 26n, 37 of Moscow, 37 of Rússia, 18, 37, 39 “ Unity,” 157 Unity Movement for the Preservation of Uzbekistans Natural, Material and Spiritual Riches (BIRLIK), 118 Uzbek Committee to Save the Arai, 118 Uzbekistan, 45, 118, 119, 125, 153, 158, 172 VASKhNIL. See Lenin Agricultural Academy, All-Union Veprev, Arkadii, 50, 55, 57, 59, 63 Vernadskaia, Mariia, 76 Vershinin, Vladimir, 5 3 -5 4 Voronina, Olga, 86, 90, 100, 104 Vorontsov, Iurii, 151 Vorontsov, Nikolai, 127 Vorotnikov, Vitalii, 50 VTsSPS. See Trade unions, official Vzgliad, 151 Womens Councils (zhensovety), 8, 78, 88, 103 Yarin, V., 18, 38 Yegorova, I. A., 81 Young, Cathy, 91 Young Peoples Council for the Protection of Nature, 115 Zakharova, N., 8 5 -8 6 , 103 Zalygin, Sergei, 124, 125 Zaliubovskaia, E., 86 Zaslavskaia, Tatiana, 5, 31, 83, 8 4 -8 5 , 189 Zeleny svit (Green World), 7, 115, chapter 8, 209

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