Rybkin, Ivan Petrovich

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(b. 1946), chair of the State Duma in 1994 and 1995, secretary of the Security Council from 1996 to 1998, and leader of the Socialist Party of Russia.

Ivan Rybkin was born on October 20, 1946, in the Voronezh countryside. He graduated from the Volgograd Agricultural Institute in 1968, completed graduate school there, and worked as a teacher until 1983. With the beginning of perestroika, he launched an ambitious political career and became the second secretary of the Volgograd Oblast committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1990, he was selected as a people's delegate to the RSFSR, where he headed the Communists of Russia fraction. In 1993 and 1994 he was vice-chair of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), but in April 1994 he left the KPRF. As of the fall of 1993, he was a member of the Agrarian Party, on whose list he was elected to the Duma. In this capacity he proved a pragmatic politician. He lost the support of the leftists (in 1995 he was excluded from the Agrarian Party), but gained the support of the Kremlin.

In the summer of 1995, the Kremlin brought forth an initiative to create two centrist blocs for the elections: a right-centrist bloc headed by Premier Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin, and a left-centrist bloc. This latter subsequently came to be called the "Ivan Rybkin bloc," which gained 1.1 percent of the electoral votes. The bloc was dissolved, but Rybkin was nonetheless elected to the Duma by single-mandate district in his homeland, Voronezh Oblast. Before the second round of presidential elections, Boris Yeltsin created the Political Advisory Council to the President of the Russian Federation, which included representatives of parties and public associations that had not made it into the Duma. Rybkin, who had recently registered the Socialist Party, was appointed chair of the council. A few months later, Rybkin replaced Alexander Lebed as secretary of the Security Council, in which capacity he worked until 1998, focusing mainly on Chechnya. His deputy was for some time Boris Berezovsky, with whom Rybkin maintains close relations.

In 20012002, with the discussion and adoption of the law on political parties, which required the presence of branch offices in at least half the regions of the country, the processes of integration strengthened considerably. From mid-2001 onward, Rybkin participated in talks concerning the creation of a United Social-Democratic Party of Russia, along with Mikhail Gorbachev and other well-known politicians. The unification process was difficult, due not so much to divergence of views as to a clash of ambitions. In the fall of 2001, when the process seemed complete, Rybkin's Socialist Party even disbanded, in anticipation of joining forces with the new party, but the merger broke at the last minute. It was effected only in March 2002, and on a visibly more modest scale.

On the basis of the Socialist Party, Alexei Podberezkin's Spiritual Heritage movement, and dozens of small organizations with socialist tendencies, the Socialist United Party of Russia was finally created. Rybkin became its chair. The honeymoon period was short, however, and within a few weeks, Rybkin resigned as chair and the Socialist Party of Russia left the coalition. In April 2003, at a congress of the Socialist United Party of Russia, he was officially removed from the position of chair and excluded from the party. His alleged offenses included an open letter to Putin, which called for ending the Chechnya war and beginning negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov; collaboration with the SPS; and unsanctioned contacts with Berezovsky.

See also: chechnya and chechens; putin, vladimir vladimirovich


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

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

McFaul, Michael; Petrov, Nikolai; and Ryabov, Andrei, eds. (1999). Primer on Russia's 1999 Duma Elections. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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

Nikolai Petrov