Economic Reform Commission

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The State Commission on Economic Reform, chaired by economist and vice premier Leonid Abalkin, was created in July 1989. The first fruit of its work was a background report written for a conference on radical economic reform held October 30November 1, 1989, in Moscow. This document was very radical by soviet standards. It argued, "We are not talking about improving the existing economic mechanism, nor about merely replacing its outdated parts. One internally consistent system must be dismantled and replaced by another one, also internally consistent and thus incompatible with the previous one."

In April 1990 Abalkin and Yuri Maslyukov (chairman of Gosplan) presented to the Presidential Council a program for a rapid transition to the market. This program drew attention to the costs involved in economic reform (e.g., open inflation, decline in production, closing of inefficient enterprises, fall in living standards, increased inequality). Most likely the program was rejected because of its honesty in discussing the costs of rapid marketization. The program officially adopted in May was substantially more conservative.

From May to August of 1990 two teams were working on economic reform programs, one headed by Abalkin and one headed by Stanislav Shatalin. The latter produced the Five-Hundred-Day Plan. Mikhail Gorbachev did not commit himself to either. He asked Abel Aganbegyan to merge the two documents. This compromise was adopted at the Congress of People's Deputies in December 1990. Abalkin was dissatisfied by these events and resigned effective February 1991.

See also: gorbachev, mikhail sergeyevich


Ellman, Michael, and Kontorovich, Vladimir, eds. (1998). The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders' History. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Hough, Jerry. (1997). Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 19851991. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Michael Ellman

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Economic Reform Commission

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