The new Russian Federation, emerging from the ashes of the USSR in January 1992, was immediately beset with multiple political, economic and social problems. The Yeltsin leadership was faced with the daunting task of simultaneously reforming both polity and economy, and there were great fears that the hardships inevitably accompanying economic reform would turn the population against the government. Moreover, after centuries of Tsarist autocracy and seven decades of Communist rule, civil society was weak and inchoate. As Theen notes, although Russia’s history:

both Imperial and Soviet is not completely devoid of elements of participatory government, for the most part the regions of Russia were administered not governed – let alone self-governed. In its historical evolution, the Russian Empire moved inexorably towards centralization and bureaucratization.1