Democratic Russia
Democratic Russia was generic name for several political entities that played a transformative role in Russia's transition from Communist rule:

1) Democratic Russia Election Bloc, association of candidates and their supporters in the 1990 election for the Congress of People's Deputies (CPD), the equivalent of a parliament of RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic, Russia's official name within Soviet Union), and for the regional and municipal Soviets. The bloc was formed in January 1990 at a conference of about 150 candidates and campaign workers. The conference adopted a Declaration drafted by Lev Ponomaryov
Lev Ponomaryov
Lev Alexandrovich Ponomaryov is a Russian politician and human rights activist, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and former member of the parliament...

, Sergei Kovalev
Sergei Kovalev
Sergei Kovalev is a Russian human rights activist and politician and a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner.- Early career and arrest :...

, Viktor Sheinis et al. The authorship of the bloc's name is attributed to one of its founding members and leaders, Mikhail Astafyev.

In the run-up to the elections, the bloc spearheaded mass rallies in Russia's cities, campaigning against one-party rule. This pressure was a major factor leading to the decision of the Soviet parliament in March 1990 to amend Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution
Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution
Article 6 of the 1977 Soviet Constitution placed limitations on the political rights of Soviet citizens. While the rest of the constitution theoretically assured the public freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of press these rights were rendered less meaningful by the reservation of...

 by removing the reference to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 (CPSU) as "the leading and guiding force" of Soviet society.

The bloc won the plurality of seats in the election on 26 March 1990 (about 300 out of 1068). It also won majorities in key local Soviets, including Moscow and Leningrad, as well as Sverdlovsk and other major cities.

2) Democratic Russia Caucus, or faction, in CPD, formed from the core membership of the bloc upon the opening of the Congress in May 1990. Its initial membership stood at around 60, but it had the support of allied factions ("Democratic Platform" and "Left Center") set up by other deputies elected with the support of the DR bloc; together, they wielded large influence over unaffiliated deputies. It played the key role in the election of Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

 as the Congress' Chairman (speaker) by a 4-vote majority in the third round of voting; the adoption of RSFSR Declaration of Sovereignty on 12 June 1990 (officially celebrated in today's Russia as Independence Day); and the passage of key legislation that transformed Russia's political and economic system in 1990-1992.

In March 1991, it set up an umbrella coalition with allied factions - "Democratic Platform", "Joint Faction of Social Democrats and Republicans" (formerly "Left Center"), "Radical Democrats", "Independents" and "Labor Union". This coalition, under the name of Democratic Russia Parliamentary Bloc and other names, held sway in the Russian parliament until spring 1992.

In 1992-1993, the faction, led by Ponomaryov, lost members and allies mostly as a result of growing opposition to economic reforms and the shift of power toward the executive. Many of Yeltsin's erstwhile supporters in the parliament gradually abandoned him, moving either in a more social-democratic and socialist or in a more nationalist, anti-Western direction. The faction's biggest defeat was the ousting of Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar
Yegor Gaidar
Yegor Timurovich Gaidar was a Soviet and Russian economist, politician and author, and was the Acting Prime Minister of Russia from 15 June 1992 to 14 December 1992....

 by parliamentary majority in December 1992 and his replacement by Viktor Chernomyrdin
Viktor Chernomyrdin
Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin was the founder and the first chairman of the Gazprom energy company, the longest serving Prime Minister of Russia and Acting President of Russia for a day in 1996. He was a key figure in Russian politics in the 1990s, and a great contributor to the Russian...

. It remained in Yeltsin's camp until the destruction of the parliament in September–October 1993. A number of formerly DR deputies won seats in subsequent elections to the new parliament, the Federal Assembly, where they joined new factions across the political spectrum, from pro-Yeltsin "Russia's Choice" to the pro-Communist Agrarian Party.

Democratic Russia caucuses or blocs were also formed in the spring of 1990 in regional and local Soviets by deputies that won their seats with the support of the DR Election Bloc. These factions controlled the majority of votes in key cities, including Moscow and Leningrad. Their subsequent history mirrored the path of the DR caucus in the federal parliament.

3) Democratic Russia Movement (DRM), political organization formed by October 1990 by Democratic Russia MPs, their allies in the Soviet parliament, grassroots pro-democracy and/or anti-communist organizations and unaffiliated political personalities. It was constituted as an umbrella organization to include both collective and individual members. It was the largest and most influential democratic organization in Russia's contemporary history.

DRM held its first, constituent congress in Moscow on 20–21 October 1990. It was governed by two bodies, a Council of Representatives, of over 250 people delegated by regional affiliates and collective members; and a smaller Coordinating Council (40-50 members representing functional units, collective members, and popular politicians). It was led by five to six co-chairs, a group that at different times included Ponomaryov, Yury Afanasyev (head of Russian State University for Humanities), Gavriil Popov (Chairman of the Moscow City Soviet who left DRM after his election as Mayor in 1991), Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin is Russian priest and dissident who fought for the freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union. He was member of Moscow Helsinki Group, and he was elected to Russian Parliaments from 1990 to 1999.-Life:...

, Galina Starovoitova
Galina Starovoitova
Galina Vasilyevna Starovoitova was a Russian politician and ethnographer known for her work to protect ethnic minorities and promote democratic reforms in Russia.- Early life and academic career :...

, Marina Salye
Marina Salye
Marina Yevgenyevna Salye is a Russian geologist and politician, former deputy of the legislative assembly of Leningrad. She was also a people's deputy in the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR until September 1993, when the congress was dissolved...

 et al. Some of the leaders, like Afanasyev and Popov, were recently senior career members of the CPSU; a few, like Yakunin, came from dissident underground and had never joined CPSU. The movement's leadership established a number of subsidiary organizations carrying its brand, including Democratic Russia Fund and a weekly newspaper Democratic Russia.

The overall political orientation of its leadership was liberal and united around the common goal of removing the CPSU from power, but internal factions immediately emerged both on the left and on the right. DRM actively supported Yeltsin in his struggle against Soviet leadership, including Gorbachev. It was much more divided over local politics, particularly the high-speed privatization initiated by Moscow and St.Petersburg authorities (including its own former leaders and candidates) that many viewed as rigged in favor of Communist-era establishment and "the mafia". In foreign policy, DRM was pro-Western, supportive of foreign minister Andrey Kozyrev
Andrey Kozyrev
Andrey Vladimirovich Kozyrev was the foreign minister of Russia under President Boris Yeltsin from October 1991 until his dismissal in January 1996. The son of a Soviet diplomat, he was born in Brussels, Belgium. Andrey Kozyrev graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations...

, and advocated closer relations with European institutions. It was neutral or supportive with regard to independence movements in Soviet republics. In November 1991, DRM's 2nd Congress protested against an early attempt to dispatch Russian troops to Chechnya to overthrow its breakaway government, after which this operation was aborted.

DRM played the key role in organizing mass rallies in Russia's major cities that pushed forward democratic political reforms and liberal economic agenda, bringing 100,000 people in the streets of Moscow for its largest rally in February 1991. It also played a central role in mobilizing grassroots resistance to the abortive August 1991 hardline coup against Gorbachev and Yeltsin and defeating it. By this time, membership in DRM reached 300,000, which made it the largest nationwide political organization when CPSU ceased to exist in the aftermath of the coup in late August 1991. It was also the closest to Yeltsin's administration and played a significant role in the events that led to the formation of Yegor Gaidar
Yegor Gaidar
Yegor Timurovich Gaidar was a Soviet and Russian economist, politician and author, and was the Acting Prime Minister of Russia from 15 June 1992 to 14 December 1992....

's government in November 1991 and subsequent dissolution of the USSR.

At that point, it rapidly began to lose influence and membership. In the fall of 1991, its members of more nationalistic orientation distanced themselves from Yeltsin's policies that led to the dissolution of the USSR and his encouragement of more autonomy for ethnic republics within Russia proper. Most of them walked out of DRM's 2nd Congress in November 1991 and left the DR Faction by the end of the year. This included DRM's largest constituent member at the time, Democratic Party of Russia
Democratic Party of Russia
The Democratic Party of Russia or DPR is a former Russian political party that existed between 1990 and 2008. It was founded by Nikolai Travkin. It initially featured Stanislav Govorukhin and Sergey Glazyev, was a prominent democratically-oriented party, member of the Democratic Russia coalition,...

 (DPR), that was part of the moderate opposition to Yeltsin in 1992-1995; as well as smaller parties, such as Russian Christian Democratic Movement and Constitutional Democratic Party - Party of People's Freedom, that in 1992 joined the hardline National Salvation Front
National Salvation Front
The National Salvation Front was the governing body of Romania in the first weeks after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, subsequently turned into a political party...

 and other radical opposition groups and ceased to exist by 1994.

On the other hand, a number of liberal democrats, such as Yuri Afanasyev and his Independent Civic Initiative, a team of radical intellectuals (Leonid Batkin, Yury Burtin et al.), developed a critique of Yeltsin's economic policies and what they saw as his excessive nationalist bent after 1991. They wanted DRM to present Yeltsin with conditions of its continued support for his policies, a view that the rest of the leadership opposed. This led to their departure from DRM leadership in early 1992. After a brief struggle to regain control over DRM, Afanasyev and his one-time ally Marina Salye tried to build an alternative nationwide movement, but had to abandon this effort by late 1992.

Meanwhile, DRM and all factions within it were rapidly losing activists and economic resources as market reforms progressed and most of DRM and Yeltsin's grassroots supporters became impoverished and overwhelmed with material concerns. DRM rallies attracted fewer and fewer participants, and it was soon outperformed in this regard by the nationalist and leftist opposition. The rump organization remained one of the most consistently pro-Yeltsin during the 1992-1993 power struggle between Yeltsin and the legislature. This led to the withdrawal of SDPR that took part, together with RPRF, in the creation of the future Yabloko
The Russian United Democratic Party "Yabloko" The Russian United Democratic Party "Yabloko" The Russian United Democratic Party "Yabloko" (Russian: Росси́йская объединённая демократи́ческая па́ртия «Я́блоко» Rossiyskaya obyedinyonnaya demokraticheskaya partiya "Yabloko"; is a Russian social...

 in the fall of 1993. DRM tried to compensate for its decline by setting up short-lived umbrella associations, such as "Democratic Choice" and "Joint Committee of Democratic Organizations of Russia". In the 1993 election to the newly created Federal Assembly, DRM participated as a collective founding member of "Russia's Choice", the most pro-Yeltsin bloc, led by Yegor Gaidar. However, it was not viewed as a significant partner, and its top leaders ended at the bottom of "Russia's Choice" list of candidates. Thus, Ponomaryov, DRM's preeminent leader after Afanasyev's departure, was listed under no. 67 and ended up without a Duma seat until he was able to fill the slot of a deceased Duma member in 1994. Eventually he and Yakunin left Russia's Choice over Chechnya War. Other DRM founders and leaders were elected to the Duma as candidates of other formations, such as "Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin" election bloc, the future Yabloko
The Russian United Democratic Party "Yabloko" The Russian United Democratic Party "Yabloko" The Russian United Democratic Party "Yabloko" (Russian: Росси́йская объединённая демократи́ческая па́ртия «Я́блоко» Rossiyskaya obyedinyonnaya demokraticheskaya partiya "Yabloko"; is a Russian social...

. DPR formed its own faction in the Duma, winning 5.5% of the vote, but soon also became split over Yeltsin's economic policies and failed to win seats in the 1995 and subsequent elections.

DRM ceased to exist as an independent political force by 1994. A rump organization, led by Ponomaryov, Starovoitova et al., maintained its presence on the margins of national politics (both as DRM and as its short-lived subsidiary, Federal Party Democratic Russia). Its members remained divided between supporting Yeltsin vs. Yavlinsky, until it was de-facto absorbed by the pro-Yeltsin Union of Right Forces
Union of Right Forces
The Union of Right Forces, or SPS , was a Russian democratic opposition party associated with free market reforms, privatization, and the legacy of the 'Young Reformers' of the 1990s: Anatoly Chubais, Boris Nemtsov, and Yegor Gaidar. Nikita Belykh was the last party's leader...

 in the 1999 election. The parties and most of the NGOs that were its collective founders and members also ceased to exist, de facto and in most cases de jure, by the early years of Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

's presidency.

Political parties - collective members of DRM

  • Republican Party of the Russian Federation
    Republican Party of the Russian Federation
    The Republican Party of the Russian Federation is a pro-reform and pro-democracy political party in the RSFSR and later in the Russian Federation. Nowadays, the party still exists . It is led by Vladimir Ryzhkov and opposes the Putin regime...

     (RPRF); liberal, internationalist; led by Vladimir Lysenko, Igor Chubais et al.; withdrew from DRM in Oct. 1993
  • Democratic Party of Russia
    Democratic Party of Russia
    The Democratic Party of Russia or DPR is a former Russian political party that existed between 1990 and 2008. It was founded by Nikolai Travkin. It initially featured Stanislav Govorukhin and Sergey Glazyev, was a prominent democratically-oriented party, member of the Democratic Russia coalition,...

     (DPR), led by Nikolay Travkin
    Nikolay Travkin
    Nikolay Ilyich Travkin is a Russian and former Soviet politician, former member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, member of State Duma and member of the Government of the Russian Federation ....

    , Georgy Khatsenkov et al., a group that until May 1991 included Garry Kasparov
    Garry Kasparov
    Garry Kimovich Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time....

    ; joined DRM in Jan., withdrew in Nov. 1991
  • Social Democratic Party of Russia (SDPR), led by Oleg Rumyantsev, Alexander Obolensky, Pavel Kudyukin et al.; withdrew from DRM in April 1993. (Not to be confused with a smaller Social Democratic Party of Russia
    Social Democratic Party of Russia
    The Social Democratic Party of Russia was a political party founded in Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev on November 26, 2001. First name of party is: Social Democratic Party of Russia . It was a coalition of several social democratic parties, had approximately 12,000 members, but had no seats in the...

     (United) led in 2001-2004 by Mikhail Gorbachev
    Mikhail Gorbachev
    Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

     or with even smaller Russian Party of Social Democracy
    Russian Party of Social Democracy
    Russian Party of Social Democracy was a political party in Russia. It was founded in February, 1995 on the initiative of Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev, the 'architect of perestroika', who in 1994 had called for forming a united movement of Russian social democrats...

     led by Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev
    Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev
    Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev was a Soviet politician and historian who was a Soviet governmental official in the 1980s and a member of the Politburo and Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union...

  • Free Democratic Party of Russia (SvDPR); populist anti-Communist; led by Lev Ponomaryov, Marina Salye et al.
  • Peasant Party of Russia (KPR); liberal, internationalist; led by Yury Chernichenko
  • Russian Christian Democratic Movement (RKhDD); moderate nationalist; led by Viktor Aksyuchits et al.; withdrew in Nov. 1991
  • Constitutional Democratic Party - Party of Popular Freedom
    Constitutional Democratic Party - Party of Popular Freedom
    Constitutional Democratic Party – Party of Popular Freedom was a political party in the USSR and Russia...

     (KDP-NS); nationalist; led by Mikhail Astafyev and Dmitry Rogozin
    Dmitry Rogozin
    Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin is a well-known Russian diplomat and popular politician, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia. In January, 2008, he became Russia's ambassador to NATO. He was a leader of the Rodina party until it merged with other similar Russian parties to form the...

    ; withdrew in Nov. 1991
  • Party of Constitutional Democrats (PKD); liberal; led by Viktor Zolotarev
  • Party of Free Labor (PST); liberal; led by Igor Korovikov

Other collective members: Memorial Society
Memorial society
A memorial society can be:*A society established in memory of someone or something, e.g.:**Memorial , an international historical and civil rights society that operates in a number of post-USSR states**Sardar Amir Azam Memorial Society...

; Independent Miners' Union; Moscow Voters' Association (MOI); Voters' Club of the Academy of Sciences (KIAN); Moscow Tribune; Shield - Association of Afghan War Veterans; The Holocaust Fund; Moscow Anti-Fascist Committee; Union of Russia's Youth (SMR); Young Russia Union; Association of Ethnic Communities of Moscow; etc.


  • Brudny, Yitzhak M. "The Dynamics of 'Democratic Russia,' 1990-1993." Post-Soviet Affairs 9, no. 2 (April–June 1993): 141-176.
  • Michael McFaul, Sergei Markov. The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Parties, Personalities, Programs. Stanford CA: Hoover Institution Press Publication, Vol 415, 1993
  • Michael Urban, with Vyacheslav Igrunov and Sergei Mitrokhin. The Rebirth of Politics in Russia. Cambridge University Press, 1997
  • Richard Sakwa. Russian Politics and Society. London ; New York : Routledge, 1993, 1996
  • Peter Reddaway, Dmitri Glinski. The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy. Washington DC: US Institute of Peace Press, 2001
  • Boris Yeltsin. Three Days That Changed The World. London : Chapmans Publishers, 1993.
  • Boris Yeltsin. The Struggle for Russia / Translated by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. New York : Belka Publications Corp. : Times Books, c1994
  • Yu.G.Burtin, E.D.Molchanov, eds. God posle Avgusta : gorechʹ i vybor : sbornik stateĭ i interʹvi︠u︡. Moscow: Izd-vo "Lit-ra i politika", 1992 (in Russian)
  • Yuri Afanasiev, Rossiia na rasputie (in Russian)
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