One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Boris Yeltsin and the Failure of Shock Therapy

Christopher Huygen


The collapse of the Soviet Union created unprecedented dilemmas for the leaders of the new independent Russia. Shedding the communist past, Boris Yeltsin embarked on an ambitious program to reorganize Russia‟s political and economic systems. Known as „shock therapy,‟ Yeltsin advocated a rapid transition from state planning to a market economy while simultaneously introducing democracy to Russia. Expecting a short period of hardship as economic reforms opened Russia to world markets, followed by prolonged growth and prosperity, Yeltsin‟s societal upheaval left Russia a prostrate state, mired in a depression that left many longing for a return to socialism.


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