Talk:History of post-Soviet Russia/Archive 2

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It was noted on FAC that this article needs an section on culture. I started one below, as it is not ready to be added it the article yet. 172 19:47, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I just went ahead and added the section. Feedback on the new section will be helpful. Thanks. 172 18:31, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The cultural stuff

The following is addressed to User:172 as the putative author of this article. Sorry I haven't had the time to comment until now... With all due respect, I think the article missed the point badly, in this section rather than in the others, which are actually done quite well.

My work on the cultural section was indeed quite rushed. I'm also certainly not a cultural and intellectual historian (hence the reason I usually stick with political economy and international relations in my articles). Noting this weakness, I asked for feedback on the section on cultural history in particular, which you are providing here. Thank you for the comments. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

My comments are all POV, of course, but I speak from first-hand experience:

  • "Contemporary Russian culture is deeply rooted in the program of the Soviet Communist regime to remake Russia society and the thousand-year heritage of the imperial Russian state.". This is tendentious, although you're right that the mix is there. But there are four elements, I'd say. They are: Soviet, Imperial, Ancient, and modern Western. The key point? It is spontaneous, not rooted in programs.
Of course it is spontaneous and not rooted in programs. I don't think that the text states this, but I suppose that it is confusing given the use of the word "program." 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Trust me, by the end of the Soviet period practically no-one took the Soviet "program" seriously.

Of course. I think that you're misunderstanding the point (my fault) due to the presence of the word "program." Of course I'm aware that few took seriously the ritual obeisance to CPSU dogmas (quote Lenin in a speech, article or book, dutifully attend a ceremony some official event, etc.). My intent was for this to be a reference to Soviet-era institutions and structures that shape people's interests and values, not necessarily ideologies and policies that were long discredited. I'll go ahsed and fix the wording. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • "In turn, the Soviet Union, itself the heir of a Tsarist state that had gained control of the major part of the Eurasian landmass over hundreds of years, with its vast bureaucracy, centrally administered economy, and the world's largest military, seemed profoundly resistant to change just shortly before its collapse to outside observers." Resistant to change it may have been, but remember that no-one took any official programmes seriously.
Again, I'm certainly not contesting this. I think that this point is made clearly later in the section. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Indeed, both the pre-Soviet Russia and the West became topics of fascination already in the last 20 years or so of the USSR, but were ignored until perestroika and all that.

But the bases of these ties (importing technology; exchanges of officials, students, and technicians) did begin long before perestroika and glasnost. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • "Throughout the Soviet Union, intellectuals, artists, and teachers preserved over a hundred different cultural legacies and national languages. Even in the most repressive years of Stalinism, a sphere of private life survived—lasting to this day—formed through strong family and friendship links; so too did a legacy of the Tsarist era through the great classic works of pre-revolutionary literature and art that generations of Soviet schoolchildren and university students were taught respect and study." Did you get this from Hedrick Smith? It's a good observation, but this tendency was not limited to any given classes, as the sentence appears to imply.
It was not limited to any classes. I don't see how that is implied. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The second part ("so too...") is entirely correct, but the linkage isn't clear. Separate sentences/paragraphs, perhaps?
I combined them, as they were both examples of the survival fragments and influences of old regime society in the Stalinist era. But I guess that this point isn't obvious offhand, so separate sentences will be better. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • "The imperative of providing the Soviet regime with a powerful scientific and technological capacity also required the regime to accept a certain level of openness and outside influences: scientific and cultural exchanges of people and ideas kept open channels through which the diverse influences of the outside world and especially the West filtered in the Soviet Union. As the Communist regime's machinery for shaping public values and reinforcing CPSU-rule (schools, youth groups, the mass media, and Party-run workplace education) grew increasingly ossified and ineffectual in the Gorbachev era, these internal and external cultural influences assumed an ever-greater importance in shaping Soviet politics, culture, and public opinion." This is correct, but since the article is on the post-Soviet rather than on the Soviet period, should it not be shortened? Also, I hate to say it, but... the syntax is very CPSU(b), you know.
    I don't know about CPSU, but certainly Western social science, which is my background. It gets the point across, but it is certainly not eloquent writing. Please go ahead and rewrite it if you have the inclination. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • "However, the Soviet system left a lasting impact on the country's culture and political patterns. Emblematic of the cleavages in Russian society associated with class, generation, education, residence in city or countryside, and ethic identity, younger generations might be attracted to Western popular culture, while many members of the older generations still weep each year at enduing Soviet-era ceremonies and commemorations of Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. (In the Soviet era official regime propaganda provided a certain stability and predictability in form of social interaction, which many who had undergone the traumas of Stalinist collectivization, the Second World War in previous decades and now the dire poverty associated with the end of Soviet-era economic subsidies.) The older generation might be critical of some features of the Soviet system, such as collectivized agriculture, but remain more inclined to accept some of the values associated with Soviet socialism." Again, correct in facts, but focusses too strongly on the Soviet period.
Yes, there is a lot of emphasis on the Soviet period, but the Russian people are making their history under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the Soviet past. (Sorry about the allusion to Marx on top of my very CPSU syntax) Again, please go ahead and rewrite this. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Now, this is what I would put instead (outline/point form):

  • modern is eclectic mix of Soviet, Western importation, and attempts to revive Imp. and even pre-Imp (ne-paganism, etc) culture.
  • intense interest in Western tech., pop, fashion; simultaneously, tsarist and pre-tsarist history and culture, with much debate on history.
  • "standard" high-culture institutions have either adapted to new ways by charging $$$, or have suffered.
  • science has had difficult time, much emigration
  • literature has definitely become more pop-oriented predominantly, although many serious books are in fact being published on just about everything.
  • the language itself is changing drastically; education system has definitely had problems.
  • all in all an uneasy mix, but the Soviet element is no longer the major one.

This is an good outline. I'd just be sure to point out the relationship between these trends and the breakdown of the old regime and CPSU rule. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

One final suggestion. You'd like to get this featured, I know. If you can replace the section by a quick summary and a link to the full article (to be worked on for a while), I'm sure there won't be too many objections. A. Shetsen 02:57, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Rewriting this section takes precedence over featuring, though. Thank you for the constructive criticism. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

BTW, would this section fit better at the beginning of the article, instead of at the end? Perhaps all the focus on the legacies of the Soviet era will make more sense in the context of the beginning of the article, which picks up where the article on History of the USSR 1985-91 leaves off. 172 13:28, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • I've broken the section up into two pieces: the Soviet inheritance and the post-Soviet reality. I've made very small changes to the first; I think the second, the last paragraph as it stands, will have to be very considerably modified. I'll do that within 24 hours (haven't done it yet). Have a look; my edits are decidedly less political than yours. That means, BTW, that I'm no longer the reviewer, but if we can escape an edit war, I'll very happily second a self-nom! A. Shetsen 04:08, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)
    • I like the changes so far. By all means, please make whatever changes you see fit to that section tomorrow. As I stated above, that section needed a lot of work. 172 04:13, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)
      • If we can agree on the text as it stands, I'd say the cultural section is finished. Thanks! A. Shetsen 04:39, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
        • I like the new section! Some of the spellings should be changed to make the section consistent with the rest of the article, which uses American English spellings. But that's it, I think. 172 04:47, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
          • Great! Thank you very much. A. Shetsen 04:59, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
          • Thank you. In particular, the closing comments on the enduring division between Westernizers and the Slavophiles ends the article very well. I enjoyed reading the new section. 172 05:01, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • I just read the section on culture. Really excellent work! Lots of thanks to both of you. One small thing I have doubts about:

But the present has had the greatest effect. Economic and political upheaval quickly made some of the formerly most prestigious professions among the least desirable in material terms. Teachers and scientific researchers lived on the poverty line or were thrown out of work. The members of the artistic and cultural elites had to learn to subsist with greatly diminished levels of support from the state. Some wilted, some emigrated, and some adapted.

On the sentence about teachers and researchers, it follows the one about "most prestigious professions" and gives the impression that teachers were among the most prestigious professions in Soviet era. I didn't quite have that impression when I grew up in Soviet Union of 1980s. I think teachers were regarded as slightly underpaid even in late Soviet period. Not on the poverty line, of course, but not the profession that everyone wanted to be in, either. A second problem with the same sentence is that I am not sure about "were thrown out of work" part. I saw a lot more of "poverty line" rather than "thrown out of work".
My first thought would be to remove that sentence (and add "scientific" to artistic and cultural elites in the next sentence) and keep the rest the same, since I agree with the rest of paragraph very much. Any thoughts on this? Andris 14:12, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)
  • On a second thought, I am also fine with saying something like "Teachers and scientific researchers, which were already somewhat underpaid at the end of Soviet era, lived on the poverty line." Andris 16:18, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)
    • Your point is well taken. Among the problems with the paragraph is that it confuses the endless NII's with the primary/secondary school system. "Prestige" is also a loaded term, since it obviously implies a POV (mine, in this case). I've tried to rephrase the whole thing. Among the major changes is "prestige" to "respect". It may be a quibble, but if you read a Russian newspaper geared towards the generation struggling to adapt (the Sankt-Peterbugskiye Vedomosti, for example), I think you will know what is meant. A. Shetsen 17:44, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
      • Thanks! I was getting confused by the paragraph but did not quite see how to rewrite it correctly myself. You rewrote it very well. Andris 08:53, Aug 10, 2004 (UTC)
  • NB. I've bitten the bullet and added a paragraph (perhaps to my future regret) on the role of ethnicity in culture. An entirely thankless task, and the ideologues will probably jump with their own accumulated grievances. All people always bitch. Russians are no exception, but English Wikipedia is probably the wrong forum even to attempt to describe their attitude impassionately. A. Shetsen 19:54, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

other things the article needs

as long as the section on the 1998 financial crisis is, there is so much more information on the subject that I think it should have its own article. Especially where it relates to the rest of the world, as in the book When Genius Failed which is about Long Term Capital Management. Right now I don't have time but I'll start one over the weekend using parts of this as a skeleton. Ignignot 13:36, Aug 6, 2004 (UTC)

Good to hear! Content on Russia is needed in Asian financial crisis, an article that needs a lot of work in general. (It should be moved to World financial crisis of 1998 as well.) This could offer greater detail on the economic issues. 172 21:02, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Wikilinks

good grief, I was just reverted for helping standardize the links. Please review Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Free_links, linking the first occurance of a word is not redundant, its proper editing style. This article is a long way from FAC material, and this sort of attitude towards proper style isn't helping any. Sam [Spade] 19:11, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)

You were linking the same items over and over again. This is redundant and an eyesore. 172 19:15, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Intro paragraph

I removed the following paragraph from the intro:

The History of post-Soviet Russia is one of the most important examples of the transition from a state controlled economy to a market economy, from Communism to Capitalism, and at least in theory, from totalitarianism to democracy. None of these transitions have been easy, and some of them may not have occurred at all, depending on ones analysis of present day Russia. [1]

There are so many things wrong with this paragraph that I don't know where to begin. (1) The word "Communism" is meaningless in this context. While the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet state were embedded in each other, while the country was ruled by the CPSU, the economy and society of the Soviet Union could not be described as "communist" according to any definition of the term (and indeed no modern economy and society). (2) The word "totalitarian" is hopelessly POV. "Totalitarianism" is not a government-type (in the sense of a republic, monarchy, constitutional monarchy, confederation, etc.), which is NPOV and universally recognized based on a common definition, but rather a concept. "Totalitarianism" is a theoretical regime typology conceived of in many different ways by many different scholars in order to understand the politics of single-party states. (For that matter, it is a concept that has fallen out of favor in academic Soviet studies in the West since the late 1960s). (3) It is not up to Wikipedia to state that Russia is heading on a path to "democracy," whatever that catchphrase means. (4) The political liberalization of Russia (the changes to the 1978 constitution, the banning of the CPSU in Russia, the direct election of a Russian president, etc. took place to a great extent in the late Gorbachev years, as the Soviet Union was unraveling. Thus this sentence would actually fit better in History of the Soviet Union (1985-1991) than this article. To call the time span between December 1991 and today a transition from "totalitarianism to democracy" is not only POV but totally absurd and not grounded in historical reality. 172 01:34, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Yeltsin's promises

The article says

To assuage voters' discontent, he made the claim that he would abandon some unpopular economic reforms and boost welfare spending, end the war in Chechnya, pay wage and pension arrears, and abolish the military draft program (he did not live up to even one of these promises after the election).

Regarding war in Chechnya, there was Khasavyurt agreements in 1996 which ended fighting until Dagestan incursions in August 1999 and set up plans for permanent peace (which were abandoned in 1999). So, I think he lived up to this promise, at least partially. I agree about the rest of paragraph. Andris 11:41, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)

Rewording

I thing that the sentence "Putin, after all, is credited with the recovery by many, but he really came into office at an ideal time: after the devaluation of the ruble in 1998, which boosted demand for domestic goods, and rising world oil prices, but his ability to withstand a sudden economic downturn has been unchecked" needs to be reworded, but am not quite sure how to do it. Dan Gardner 20:03, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)

This may work: "Putin came into office at an ideal time: after the devaluation of the ruble in 1998, which boosted demand for domestic goods, and rising world oil prices. Thus, he is credited with the recovery by many, but his ability to withstand a sudden economic downturn has been unchecked." BTW, good job finding this sentence. 172 22:25, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps what I posted is better. "after the devaluation of the ruble in 1998" and "and rising world oil prices" are not parallel, and unchecked has the second meaning of "not held in check." Also, thanks for spending so much time addressing my objections. You have done an astonishing amount of work on the history articles, and several of them, this one included, are truly outstanding and informative. Dan Gardner 04:11, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Thanks. It was my pleasure going through the list. All those changes were much-needed. 08:44, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Shortening/Summaries

On FAC, there have been requests to shorten/put into summary style/link to sub-articles. Although I'm not at all sure there's any internal need to do so, I'm wondering how this can be done without destroying the internal flow of the article. Any ideas? I suggest that some sort of a consensus be reached here before edits are made. A. Shetsen 16:08, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I volunteer to do the heavy lifting. I've already summarized 10 pages of text in two sections at Ronald Reagan down to a 2.5 page long summary in one section and put the more detailed text at Reagan Administration. --mav 08:26, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I disagree with efforts to get this article below an arbitrary length requirement. Unlike the Reagan article before your reorganization, this article is already tightly organized and the prose is succinctly worded as it is. So I doubt that the example of the Reagan article applies here. 172 08:43, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I lean towards summarizing. Some topics are covered in much greater detail than others and, I think, it would be fair to move details on them into separate articles. Andris 10:04, Aug 13, 2004 (UTC)
I completely disagree with "arbitrary size limits" as well, as I've argued before. However, the basic issue is how to reach consensus on content. Perhaps we should handle it one section at a time? I'm definitely against changing anything unless there's agreement here. One candidate might be the constitutional crisis of 1993. 172, your article on it has been featured. (BTW, having reread it again, I don't think I have as many reservations as I expressed back then...) Should a summary deal more with cause/effect rather than chronology? A. Shetsen 17:07, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The ==Dismantling socialism== section is too detailed for this level and should be summmarized here and the detail moved to Dismantling socialism in the former USSR (==Economic Reform in the 1990s== at Economy of Russia should go through a similar process and the detailed text also moved to Dismantling socialism in the former USSR). Reading length is not arbitrary esp on the Internet where attention spans are so short. We must serve readers who want different levels of detail. --mav 18:33, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
You cannot understand the recent Russian history without an understanding of the economic reforms in the early 1990s, and I have seen no evidence that the text in the section is not tightly organized and that the prose is verbose (i.e. valid reasons for your proposed changes). I will vigorously oppose the removal and arbitrary shortening of this section. (The subsections on shock therapy and obstacles to reform posed by initial conditions certainly cannot be removed.) If the section is "too long," that is only the case because too many subheadings are consolidated under a single heading. The section on depression and social problems, for example, can stand separately as its own section. 172 00:39, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Constitutional crisis of 1993

Since a featured article that gives very full chronology and analysis exists, I propose the following text for the section in this article:

Main article: Russian constitutional crisis of 1993
The struggle for the center of power in post-Soviet Russia and for the nature of the economic reforms culminated in political crisis and bloodshed in the fall of 1993. Yeltsin, who represented a course of radical privatization, was opposed by the parliament. Confronted with opposition to the presidential power of decree and threatened with impeachement, Yeltsin dissolved the parliament on September 21, in contravention of the existing constitution, and ordered new elections and a referendum on a new constitution. The parliament then declared Yeltsin deposed and appointed Aleksandr Rutskoy acting president on September 22. Tensions built quickly, and matters came to a head after street riots on October 2-October 3. On October 4, Yeltsin ordered the Special Forces to storm the parliament buildings. The storm was carried out on live television; Rutskoy, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and the other parliamentary supporters were arrested; the official count was 187 dead, had 437 wounded. Some called it the "Second October Revolution."
Thus the transitional period in post-Soviet Russian politics came to an end. A new constitution was approved by referendum in December, 1993. Russia was given a strongly presidential system. Radical privatization went ahead. Although the old parliamentary leaders were released without trial on February 26, 1994, they would not play an open role in politics thereafter. Though its clashes with the executive would eventually resume, the remodelled Russian parliament had greatly circumscribed powers.
See also: Constitution and government structure of Russia

Not very good stylistically, perhaps, but it gives the essential points, I think, and the rest is dealt with well in the specialized article. Any comments pro or contra? A. Shetsen 05:46, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)

No comments? OK, I'm putting it in. Discuss below! A. Shetsen 20:50, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I like the changes for one. Good job! 172 04:22, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Thank you! A. Shetsen 05:29, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Question on this section. Where does the term "Second October Revolution" come from? I have not encountered it in Russian and I used to think it's a Western term until I searched for it on google today. 217 hits, most of which refer to overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000, with collectivization being the second most popular meaning. I went through all the results and found just 9 non-Wikipedia pages referring to 1993 as "Second October Revolution". I am confused now, since it does not appear to be commonly used in this meaning, judging by those results. Andris 09:11, Aug 16, 2004 (UTC)
Hmmm. I remembered it being called "Second October" ("Второй Октябрь") very briefly by the parliamentary supporters at the time. Then it was used in the uncondensed text. I haven't found any Russian use either. Since the phrase has not stuck, it may as well be taken out. 68.148.211.161 17:58, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC) --- maybe I'll learn to log in one of these days :) A. Shetsen 18:01, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

POV creep

We seem to be seeing POV creep, with attempts to make the parliament look heroic, Yeltsin the villain. I'd like to point out that both sides have their supporters, and the correct place to note all this is in the main article. I've reverted it to a shorter summary, but I will certainly not get into an edit war over the issue. For my part, I think I'll withdraw for now from active contributions to a topic which is infested, in Wikipedia as everywhere else, with accusations of propaganda. A. Shetsen 18:14, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I don't think that we're seeing a POV creep just yet. One anon added some POV changes, which you correctly reverted, but that's just it. 172 19:03, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The 1996 election

Since a "main article" for it already exists, would it make sense to do the following:

  • put the existing campaign/election sections, which give a lot of excellent chronological detail, into the "main article"
  • write two new paragraphs here: (1) the issues at stake, (2) the outcome and the political consequences.
  • use the same new text, expanded with greater detail, in the "main article" as lead section/conclusion.

Comments, gentle co-editors? A. Shetsen 05:29, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I don't know. The two related entries (Russian presidential election, 2000 and Russian presidential election, 2004) are also similarly formatted lists. 172 05:33, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Well, certainly it would be logical later to do the same for the 2000 and 2004 elections as well. Keep in mind, I'm merely (a) working on one section at a time, (b) specifying the issues, and (c) proposing actual changes for comment before (d) putting them in! (If one day is too short for comment, let it be two, three, or whatever.) BTW, the pargraphs I proposed would themselves be longish. I see two merits for my proposal:
  • We shall have news-style articles with "in-depth" coverage on one, then, later two more, discrete events, namely the 1996, 2000, 2004 presidential elections;
  • We can use the space in this article for cause/effect analysis, and only the most basic chonological markers.
172, I remember arguing with you about news style in the FAC phase of the 1993 crisis article. Please allow me to refine my position. I now agree completely that discrete events should be presented news style; my argument at the time was misplaced. However, since we are dealing with a (very short still) phase in history of a large country, I think it would be best to write as an observer somewhat more removed than a journalist. A. Shetsen 05:49, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Okay. This sounds like a good point. I'm sure that it'll be an improvement if you do the same for the '96 elections sections as you did for the section on the '93 constitutional crisis. 172 05:52, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Article Size

I'm not normally a stickler about this rule (heck, I'm usually the one flouting it), but this article is over 60 kb long, it's time to split it up into seperate articles.--naryathegreat 00:29, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)

Politically unstable?

I haven't found any references to political instability in Russia in 1991, it was the [[Soviet Union|Soviet] that was unstable and collapsed but the evidence is that Yeltsin forged political stability quite quickly, notwithstanding Russia's many other problem inherited from the Soviet. So I've removed the unsourced claim about instability. Libertas

Libertas, you are probably not familiar with or forgot the political georgaphy of Russia. Please take a look into Federal subjects of Russia. It contains a number of natinonal autonomies, and after the secession of Baltic states in many of pieces of Russia nationalistic movements started, aimed at secession, of varying strength, when the consolidating power of communists was shattered.
Also, if you doubt some claim, the first act is to ask questions, rather than cut and slash. A person cannot know everything. If I hadn't "found any references to political instability", I would ask friends to help me to find them. One cannot simply remove some claim without giving reasons of doubt. That you didn't find it is not a valid reason.
The referred piece briefly summarises the topic, but unfortunately wikipedia doesn't have an article at hand on this issue. The proper way would be to request this article from people who know the topic. The whole subject is huge, and you cannot have it all at once. We work gradually. You cannot imagine how ridiculous articles about the Sovietr Union were 2 years ago. They improved enormously. Mikkalai 07:25, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

On the other hand I have to agree that starting an article with such strong political statement is incorrect. A more detailed summary of political instability is required. A mere reference wouldn't do. References are for additional details. What is more, this claim serves no apparent purpose in the immediate vicinity of the article (I was lazy to read further). IMO this is bad style. I would have fixed this myself, but I have no knack in writing political summaries. Mikkalai 07:33, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)