Russia

Russia

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Russia, officially known as the Russian Federation is an Eastern European country that was once under the control of the Soviet communist party in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, until its collapse in December 1991 as the nation started transitioning towards democracy. However, the transition from socialist to democratic for Russia proved to be severely fatal as there was direct military involvement along with public widespread protest during the Constitutional Crisis of 1993. Although it was a time in which former President Boris Yelstin (executive) was in a heated confrontation with the Russian Parliament (legislature formerly formed by the Congress of People’s Deputies and the Supreme Soviet) on issues about the control and reframing the constitution of the government, it was actually a time in which the nation was entrenched with political instability as many political analyst would answer the question of, why has the nation had problems with political instability?
It all began to take root on early January of 1992 as Boris Yelstin, who was faced with “One of the most urgent challenges…for rescuing the sinking Russian economy” (Breslauer 2002: 153), decided to take an initiative to put into effect his economic reform policies to alleviate the economy. Consequently, it caused many industries to go out of business as prices soon began to skyrocket which caused spending to take a drastic downturn and taxes to escalate further. Soon afterwards Yelstin’s reform began to viewed as being too radical which caught the Parliament’s attention for his actions being somewhat “unconstitutional” because “He was an autocrat who, without regard to formal constraints…acted in unpredictable ways to achieve his goals” (Rose and Munro 2002: 41), namely he exercised his powers beyond constitutional norms to stabilize the economy. Furthermore, Yelstin who grew aware that his special power to issue decrees was about to terminate at the start of 1993, but demanded Parliament to revise or amend the constitution (since the Constitution of 1978 invested them with the authority to be able to do so) which would grant the president more power than he already had at the time through his decree being revived. On the contrary, Parliament decided to decline his request which led to series of clashes between both Yelstin and Parliament as “…Yelstin did not change his position concerned his relations with Parliament and the power of the presidency” (Breslauer 2002: 167), to illustrate Yelstin’s will and determination in exercising his powers so the nation can truly obtain democracy.

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It wasn’t until early December of 1992 where the turmoil would actually commence when Parliament rejected Yelstin’s nomination of Yegor Gaidar as prime minister because of Gaidar being an extremely liberal reformer in the market as, “…Yelstin’s choice was sure to provoke a reaction from the parliament already demanding a slowing of the reform process” (Nichols 1999: 67), namely Parliament requested Yelstin to amend his economic reform. Later on, a referendum was soon suggested by Yelstin as the “Russians may have been concerned about the impact of the reform, but…did not want reform halted” (Nichols 1999: 67), namely Yelstin had the public’s support to help the nation to fully democratically transition. Therefore, both branches came into an agreement to hold a national referendum on April of 1993 which would enable the framing of a new constitution. In addition, Yelstin power to issue decree was extended until the date of the referendum. However, the compromise would backfire on as tension rose before the referendum because, “…there was a basic conflict about the division of powers between them” (Rose and Munro 2002: 29), in other words, the concern was about the language to interpret the distribution of power through the referendum. Hence, more heated debates over policy and decision making would soon follow as Parliament became too overwhelmed, which influenced them to decease Yelstin’s decree only to add more fuel to the fire. Nevertheless, the president still announced for a referendum to take place on April 11.
Throughout March of 1993, Parliament would have the momentum shifted to their side of the fray. It was a time of which Yelstin was finally placed through impeachment. The process initiated when Ruslan Khasbulatov, who was the speaker of the Supreme Soviet, demanded “…that Yelstin be impeached” (Nichols 1999: 71), being the final phase of Parliament’s plan to remove the president. The tactic of which Parliament adopted, to expire Yelstin’s decree to ensure that it blocked and defeated presidential power over the government. Moreover, Parliament would soon call for an emergency meeting where they took a vote to not only reframe the constitution themselves as they canceled the referendum scheduled on April, but to also strip Yelstin all of his constitutional powers. Therefore, it seemed that the door has opened up to them as the balance of power would soon reach a turning point.
The president would soon respond on Parliament’s actions as he made a televised address to the nation, validating the approval of a decree to issue a special regime, “…presidential abuse of power, committed in the presence of a legislature that cannot curb such abuse even when it is inclined to do so” (Fish 2006: 15). In other words, Yelstin would go above and beyond his power to gain the public’s trust as he said, “I leave my fate in the hands of the most just and supreme judge: the people” (Breslauer 2002: 169), in his attempt to suspend parliamentary rule to maintain the referendum as scheduled and to call for new legislative elections. In addition, he started “…accusing Parliament and its local soviet branches of seeking to restore communism” (Breslauer 2002: 169), to declare they didn’t uphold to the values of democracy which is why they saw him as a threat. Although Yelstin was not in position of signed decree at the moment, the Constitutional Court, the judiciary, declared the measures of his decree “unconstitutional.” However, when the decree itself was presented in print a few days later, it turned out it be compliant with the constitution because“…it was almost impossible to impeach the president…the constitution reflected Yelstin’s conception of accountability” (Breslauer 2002: 171), as his measures ensure him to up holds to his duty of being accountable for the actions of the government. Finally, on March 26 the Russian Parliament would decide the fate of their relentless opposition to be impeached or not to be impeached. Consequently, they failed to impeach Yelstin as they couldn’t obtain a two-thirds majority which allowed him to stay in office. Therefore, the referendum would go as planned and the hope to call forth new legislative elections.
Now that Parliament failed in their attempt to impeach Yelstin, they came up with yet another elaborate scheme to get power shifted away from the president.

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