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Civic Union


The Civic Union was a political movement active in 1992 and 1993, intended to represent the interests of state-owned enterprises and their managers and employees. It was a bloc of several parties and extraparliamentary organizations. One of its leaders was Vice President Alexander Rutskoy; another was Arkady Volsky, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Its activities were a reaction against the economic policies of the Yegor Gaidar government (19911992).

Russian governments in the Boris Yeltsin era, in accordance with mainstream Western economics, aimed at financial stabilization, specifically of the price level. The Civic Union was more interested in real stabilization: namely, stabilization of output levels. It primarily aimed to halt, and then reverse, the sharp fall in production and living standards that took place between 1989 and 1992.

Unlike the Gaidar government, the Civic Union, worried about the possible negative consequences of privatization, did not consider it a high priority, and believed that any privatization of large enterprises should adhere to the Soviet tradition of safeguarding the rights of employees.

With respect to liberalization, the Civic Union saw advantages in the partial reintroduction of some elements of the old economic mechanism (state orders, the provision of goods in kind, price controls, and wage controls). For the Gaidar team, the Civic Union's position on this issue exposed its "reactionary essence" and made it "dangerous" for the future of Russia.

In agriculture, during the winter of 19911992, the Gaidar government tried to carry out a quick decollectivization policy, ignoring the needs and interests of this remaining large-scale sector. The Civic Union, on the other hand, argued for continued financial support for large-scale agriculture (the former collective and state farms).

The Civic Union played an important role in the emergence of a democratic system in Russia by providing a constitutional channel for criticism of the unpopular economic policies of the Gaidar government. It contributed to undermining them and forcing Gaidar himself from office in December 1992. However, it failed on the whole to provide direction and leadership for government economic policy. The growing political tension of 1993 and the increased privatization of the economy led to the disappearance of the Civic Union.

See also: economy, current; privatization


Ellman, Michael. (1993). "Russia: The Economic Program of the Civic Union." RFE/RL Research Report 2(11): 34-45.

Reddaway, Peter, and Glinski, Dmitrii. (2001). The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

Michael Ellman

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