Liberals and democrats are fearful about next month's elections in Russia. Their expectation since 1990 - when Boris Yeltsin became leader of Russia's Parliament - had been that elections would bring administrations and personalities committed in the main to liberal and democratic programmes. That expectation lasted until the results of the December 1993 elections showed the winner to be Vladimir Zhirinovsky's ironically named Liberal Democrats, a party of extreme authoritarian nationalism. In this year's election, there are no expectations of a Liberal Democrat success. On the contrary,the belief is that a revived Communist Party will capture the largest share of a highly fragmented Parliament and construct a stable majority with other left-wing and nationalist groupings. Most democrats and many of the new business class believe that will be bad; some think it will be very bad; a few think it could be murderous.There is serious talk of expropriations, imprisonments, political assassinations and civil war. The belief that the changes of the late Eighties and early Nineties were irreversible is no longer solid. The fear is palpable.
LRB 30 November 1995 | PDF Download