Russia's political evolution
Russia has been the scene of unrelenting political conflict since six months after its emergence as an independent state. This conflict has been driven by the direct and indirect consequences of the decision to build a capitalist system in Russia, and particularly by the adoption of shock therapy to achieve that aim. The interpretation of the Soviet demise presented in Part II above, and particularly the role of the party-state elite in that process, helps explain the course of Russian politics since 1991. This chapter examines several important developments in Russia from this perspective: (1) the emergence of the so-called centrist opposition and the Yeltsin government's response to it; (2) the shift over time in the balance of power within the opposition from centrists to Communists; (3) the trend toward an increasingly authoritarian regime in Russia. Perhaps the most remarkable development in these years has been the reemergence of the Communist Party as a serious contender for power. We conclude the chapter with a consideration of possible future courses of economic and political development in Russia.