Democratic Russia

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The movement Democratic Russia (DR) is a relic of the end of the Soviet epoch, when opposition arose to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the only party at the time. Founded in October 1990, it initially united practically all the anticommunist opposition. Its predecessor was the bloc of candidates "Democratic Russia" in the March 1990 elections for people's deputies to the RSFSR and local soviets. Numbering up to 205 delegates in congresses from 1990 to 1993, the group "Democratic Russia," after the introduction of a prohibition against membership in more than one fraction, split into several fractions, two of which"Democratic Russia" and "Radical Democrats"composed the DR movement. In the 1991 presidential elections, DR and the parties belonging to it, including the DPR (Democratic Party of Russia), SDPR (Social-Democratic Party of Russia), Peasant Party of Russia, Russian Christian Democratic Movement, and the Republican Party of the Russian Federation, supported Boris Yeltsin, who won for his first term.

After the "victory over the communists," two tendencies struggled within the movement: One favored turning it into a broad coalition of parties and organizations, the other favored making a single organization of it, allowing collective and individual membership. As a result, parties broke off from DR: first the Democratic Party of Russia, the Constitutional-Democratic PartyParty of People's Freedom, and the Russian Christian-Democratic Movement (1991), then, in 1992 and 1993, the Social-Democratic Party of the RF, the Republican Party of the RF, the People's Party of Russia, and the Free Democratic Party of Russia. In the 1993 elections, DR was one of four co-constituents of the bloc "Russia's Choice," but by the end of 1994, most of the members of the movement, entering the Duma on the lists "Russia's Choice" and "Yabloko," dissociated themselves from the movement, and its co-chairs, delegates Lev Ponomarev and Gleb Yakunin, left the fraction Russia's Choice. At the outset of the 1995 campaign, the DR leaders created a federal party, DemRussia, and, alongside the Movement, established a bloc Democratic Russia and Free Trade Unions, which ultimately bowed out of participation in the elections, to the advantage of Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) and Yabloko. In 1996 the co-chair of DemRussia, Galina Starovoytova, tried to establish candidacy for the presidential elections; in 1998 she was murdered in St. Petersburg in hazy circumstances.

In 1999 the Movement became one of a number of constituents of the bloc "A Just Cause," and in May 2001 it dissolved along with other democratic parties, becoming part of the Union of Right Forces (SPS). Up to the moment of its dissolution, according to the party's president, Sergei Stankevich, the party had about six thousand members, including two thousand activists. Never having been a leadership-oriented, monolithic, disciplined structure, DemRussia retains its character in its afterlife. Not all regional branches of the movement and party agreed with the idea of dissolution; from time to time the name DemRussia is mentioned in connection with various pickets and meetings (against the war in Chechnya, concerning anniversaries of the founding of the movement, protection of the White House, and so forth), as well as in connection with routine unification initiatives of the democrats.

See also: constitutional democratic party; democratic party; political party system; union of right forces; yabloko


McFaul, Michael. (2001). Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

McFaul, Michael, and Markov, Sergei. (1993). The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Parties, Personalities, and Programs. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.

Reddaway, Peter, and Glinski, Dmitri. (2001). The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism against Democracry. Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press.

Nikolai Petrov

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Democratic Russia

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