Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Who needs the DSA when you have a German-born, fully vetted—Freiburg, Hamburg, Kennedy School, Munich—professor of corporate law? 

Links stripped from the original and even throwing fair use out the window, good bits left out.

Let us recount the sequence of events. In November 1991, the Russian Supreme Soviet (parliament) gave the then Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, extraordinary powers and a 13-month mandate to launch reforms. Then, in December 1991, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved by the Belovezh accords, which created the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia, Belarus and Ukraine declared respect for one another’s independence.

Surrounded by a small group of Russian reformers and western advisers, Yeltsin used this unique historical moment to launch an unprecedented programme of economic ‘shock therapy’. Prices were liberalised, borders were opened and rapid privatisation began—all by presidential decree.

Nobody in Yeltsin’s circle bothered to ask whether this was what Russia’s citizens wanted. And nobody paused to consider that Russians might first want a chance to develop a sound constitutional foundation for their country, or to express through an election their preference for who should govern them.

...Moreover, the shock therapy unleashed such severe and sudden social and economic disruptions that it turned the public against the reforms and the reformers. The Supreme Soviet refused to extend Yeltsin’s extraordinary powers and what happened next would set the stage for the rise of authoritarian presidentialism in Russia.

Yeltsin and his allies refused to give up. They declared the existing Russian constitution of 1977 illegitimate and Yeltsin proceeded to assume power unilaterally, while calling for a referendum to legitimise the move. But the constitutional court and the parliament refused to budge and a deep political crisis ensued. In the end, the standoff was resolved by tanks, which Yeltsin called in to dissolve the Russian parliament in October 1993, leaving 147 people dead.

...I still recall a revealing conversation that I, a student of Russia’s reforms at the time, had with Dmitry Vasiliev, a top member of Yeltsin’s privatisation team. When I pointed out the shortcomings of the draft constitution, he said they would simply fix it if the wrong person ascended to power. They never did, of course—nor could they have. Vasiliev’s statement fully encapsulated how the economic reformers thought about constitutional democracy.

In December 1993, the new constitution was adopted through a referendum, which was held jointly with elections to the new parliament. Yeltsin’s candidates suffered a stunning defeat, but with the president’s new constitutional powers secured the economic reforms continued. Yeltsin was ‘re-elected’ in 1996 through a manipulated process which had been planned in Davos and orchestrated by the newly-minted Russian oligarchs. Three years later, Yeltsin made Putin prime minister and anointed him as his successor.

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