République tchèque

The transition in Russia


Under Gorbachev, the Russian economy experienced heavy difficulties in terms of production of goods, agriculture and pricing. Soon after he won the elections in June 1991, Boris Eltsine started the implementation of economic reforms regarding liberalization, monetary and taxes policies, the development of foreign exchange and entrepreneurship.

Gorbachev’s ambitions

In late 1980s, the economic resources of the USSR were exhausted.

Mikhail Gorbachev introduced policies of restructuring (Perestroika) in order to reform the poorly performing Soviet economy.

Numerous small private ownerships (Cooperative) appeared in the sphere of construction industry and of consumer goods. Their particularity was a very low quality of produced goods.

The country's transition to a market economy

The transition to a market economy has been extremely painful.

Massive privatisation programmes were accompanied by criminal, dishonest deals.

In the nineties, the level of industrial production was lower than that during the World War II.

“Bespredel” (general disorder) is the key word of this period.


Financial crisis, 1998. Workers demand unpaid wages


The transition introduced competition and transparency but to an unsufficient extent. Crime and corruption remained strong and reforms have provided an opportunity for illegal activities.

Even though life conditions of Russian people had been far from perfect during this political regime, the situation was much worse right after.

Collapse of the USSR and its reasons

Mikhail Gorbachev has a very positive image in the West. At home, he is accused to have destroyed the USSR.

Many Russian people are still nostalgic about the Soviet Union times. They do not regret the breakdown of the Communist Party, but quiet stagnation times, social stability, patriotic feeling and national pride.



Mikhail Gorbatchev. The last First Secretary of the Communist Party and the first President of the USSR.

To go further

pbs.org/weta/faceofrussia/ The face of Russia

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