Economic reforms in Russia and the Soviet Union have really never come to be, even after the constant assurances that the government gives its citizens that it is doing everything in its power to bring this to pass. One of the reasons this has been so difficult to achieve is the ‘man exploitation of man’ notion. Having some people live with hardly an income of between $40-$60 a month while others take huge amounts of profits made by years of an average man’s effort and labor not to mention the illegal owning of the country’s natural resources.
Russia’s enormous size has also contributed to the delayed reforms. Russia is a large country which stretches across eleven time zones and eighty nine different regional governments. This has made the long distance between the locations promote the difficulty in communication and transportation. The presence of a weak central government in Moscow sometimes makes the officials far away from the capital refuse to carry out the reform programmes. There has been a lot of organized crime which especially grew in the 1990s.
The ‘Russian Mafia’ had at one point in 1998 been estimated to control 40 percent of the private companies and 60 percent of state owned enterprises. It was like they had their own economy. This mafia even expanded outside Russia. This affected the economic growth for it rewarded illegal activity over honest business. Mikhail Gorbachev had brought about some economic reforms which unfortunately, yielded little results. There was the alcohol reform which involved the increment of alcohol prices such vodka and beer.
Wineries were also destroyed and drinking in public prohibited. This failed due to the blockage of information by the conservatives making the pace of the reforms too slow. It brought about a huge blow to states budget making a huge loss. The glasnost reform which meant greater freedom of speech was introduced. Gorbachev intended to let the media and the public openly criticizes the government decisions. This turned out to be a mistake as the media used it to reveal some of the mistakes the government had done in the past like to severely punish its citizens.
The freedom got way out of hand more than Gorbachev had intended which made the citizens change their views towards the government (Katz, 2008). Gorbachev political initiatives were positive for freedom and democracy, but his economic policies brought the country close to a disaster. There were severe shortages of basic food supplies that led to the supply of limited food substances to the citizens. Yeltsin did not do much to help in implementing the reforms.
Although he advertised self sacrifice by riding in city buses, visiting factories and stores, talked with commuters, gathered hundreds of officials who were corrupt and gathered information on deficiencies, he resigned in October 21, 1987 claiming that the economic reform was proceeding too slowly. He blamed this on Gorbachev associate claiming that he had been blocking his attempts to improve the lives of Moscow’s common folk. References Katz, A. (2008). The politics of economic reform in the Soviet Union. New York: Praeger