Boris Yeltsin and Russia's Democratic Transformation

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Boris Yeltsin is one of modern history's most dynamic and underappreciated figures. In this vivid, analytical masterwork, Herbert J. Ellison establishes Yeltsin as the principal leader and defender of Russia's democratic revolution - the very embodiment of Russia's fragile new liberties, including the evolving respect for the rule of law and private property as well as core freedoms of speech, religion, press, and political association.

In 1987 President Mikhail Gorbachev expelled Boris Yeltsin from his team of reform politicians, but Yeltsin rebounded from this potentially devastating setback to become the leader of the Russian democratic movement. He created a new office of Russian president, to which he was elected; designed a democratic constitution for the Soviet Union that precipitated a coup attempt by traditionalist communist leaders; granted independence to the nations of the Soviet Union; and replaced Communist Party rule with democracy and the socialist economy with a market economy. In a short period, he had succeeded in becoming the first popularly elected leader in a thousand years of Russian history. He had blocked violent attempts at counter-revolution and overcome powerful resistance to his reform program. His achievements rank among the most extraordinary feats of political leadership in the twentieth century.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

The Historian
An excellent overview of the Yeltsin era... an excellent read that will prove useful.... This reviewer highly recommends it.
Political Science Quarterly
Ellison deserves special praise for choosing to restrict himself solely to public evidence.... A book that richly deserves to be read and taught.
Slavic Review
Ellison does a very good job of providing rich empirical examples, which students will find helpful.... [T]he book's accessible and jargon-free style will appeal to nonacademics who are interested in Russia's affairs.... Ellison's book provides an informative analysis of this period, and it will be of great use to students and researchers for many years to come.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Herbert J. Ellison is professor emeritus of history and international studies at the University of Washington, where he continues to teach. He has served as director of the University's Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and was formerly director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington, D.C. He is the author or coauthor of five books on Russian history and foreign policy.

University of Washington Press

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Table of Contents


Introduction / Boris Yeltsin, Russian Liberator

1. Refore or Revolution? Yeltsin and Gorbachev, 1987-1991—From Colleagues to Rivals—Yeltsin Builds an Opposition Program and Russian Base—Challenging the Center—Counterrevolution and Democratic Revolution—Replacing the Union—Epilogue

2. The Politics of Reform, 1991-1999—Facing Communist Opposition—Conflicts over Policy and Consitutional Structure—Blocking Constitutional Reform—Reform and Rebellion—The New Constitutional Order—Parliamentary and Presidential Elections—The Final Phase of Yeltsin's Leadership: Economic and Political Crisis—Yeltsin Seeks a Successor

3. Building A New Economy—The Legacy of Gorbachev's Economic Reforms—The Politics and Economics of the Yeltsin Reforms—The Long Struggle for Agricultural Reform—Yeltsin's Achievement in Economic Reform

4. The New Russia and the World—Russia and the West—Russia and East Asia—Russia and the Other Former Soviet Republics—An Overview of Russian Foreign Policy under Yeltsin

The Yeltsin Legacy

NotesSelected BibliographyIndex

University of Washington Press

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