Mikhail Gorbachev is a rare leader who changed not just the history of a single nation, but the history of the world by dismantling the Soviet Communist system and ending the Cold War.
Elements of the Soviet political order remain deeply embedded in modern Russian politics, regardless of whether Lenin’s body remains in its mausoleum in Red Square.
Yeltsin was a revolutionary who destroyed the old order rather than building a new system. As a result, his years in power were often turbulent, but ultimately he managed to help Russia avoid collapse and civil war.
As a revolutionary, Boris Yeltsin was ready to go much further than his predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev. In the end, however, he returned Russia to a system that put power in the hands of a single person and discredited democratic freedoms.
While Boris Yeltsin did a lot to build a state under difficult circumstances, he built it to suit his own interests and ultimately squandered his nation’s trust by not delivering on the hopes he represented.
Russia’s economic fortunes often determine the popularity of its leaders, and the personality of those leaders, in turn, influences the country’s socio-political development.
The individual freedoms and economic freedoms achieved during the perestroika years still exist in modern Russia, but the democracy sought by Gorbachev and his allies has been replaced by a paternalistic state.
Post-Soviet Russia has witnessed an expansion of religious freedom and a change in the relationship between religious entities and the state. Religious movements that had all but disappeared under the Soviet regime have been experiencing a revival.
Eastern European and Baltic countries that have recently joined NATO and the European Union have undergone social and economic reforms, but they have also faced significant challenges along the way. Can their experience be of use to Russia?