A time of hope or chaos? An historical evaluation of the events and reforms of the nineties.

120 67 Time To Talk

A time of hope or chaos? An historical evaluation of the events and reforms of the nineties. Russisch

On 25th May 2013, timed to coincide with the anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s birth, The Sakharov Centre held a mini-series of three debates within the Festival of Freedom. The second one was entitled A time of hope or chaos? An historical evaluation of the events and reforms of the nineties.

What was life like in Russia in the nineties?

On the one hand, the country was in the grip of a wave of aggressive privatisation that many would call robbery, wages were miserable and inflation was out of control. It was a time in which academics sold whatever they could at market places, criminal redistribution of property was rife and shootings occurred on an indiscriminate and daily basis. The state defaulted on its debts in 1998, there were two Chechen wars, the Russian White House was shelled in 1993 and the president had an alcohol dependency. There were indeed so many negative occurrences in the nineties that the authorities have been able to repeatedly refer to them for the last ten years. Whenever it has been necessary to acquire more state control, the state has been able to raise the spectre of the nineties and to favourably contrast itself with the chaotic events of this period.

Yet, it wasn’t all bad news. It was also a time in which people were politically re-energised and went out onto the streets to stop a coup d’état. It was a time of freedom, of hopes for the future, of endless possibilities. For a short while it seemed as if Russia’s communist heritage might have been abolished for good and, even in a nightmare, one would not have envisaged “a mad printer” (which is the nickname for today’s parliament) or a future filled with hundreds of political prisoners. Instead there were unprecedented market reforms and the development of institutions, which have since sustained the country despite the crumbling soviet core of its infrastructure and persistently low oil prices.

The nineties was a time of uncertainty and economic misery, but it was also a time of political competition, of more or less free elections and independent courts. Which of these do we deem to be most important today, economic and physical security or personal freedom?




Mikhail Kaluzhsky is a journalist, playwright, translator and curator of The Sakharov Centre’s documentary theatre projects.


Boris Kupriyanov is a left-wing political writer and publisher. He is also one of the founders of the Phalanster independent bookstore, deputy head of Moscow City’s Library Centre, programme director for the Moscow International Open Book Festival and a member of the board of experts at the annual non/Fictio№ book fair.

Denis Dragunsky is a liberal culture expert, sociologist and writer. The author of several movie scripts and books of short stories, he also previously worked as the editor-in-chief of various humanitarian studies’ magazines and since the 90’s he has been a policy advisor for the neo-liberal, socially-conservative political grouping, the Union of Right Forces.

A full video recording and a transcript of the debate (both in Russian) can be found at: http://gogol.tv/video/828



«Лихие или великие? Как оценить историческую роль событий и реформ 90-х» 

25 мая 2013 года в рамках ежегодного «Фестиваля свободы», приуроченного к дню рождения академика Сахарова, прошел мини-фестиваль дебатов, включивший в себя три дискуссии. Тема вторых дебатов в рамках этого цикла – «Лихие или великие? Как оценить историческую роль событий и реформ 90-х». 

Бедное, тяжелое время, скудные зарплаты, галопирующая инфляция. Научные работники, торгующие на рынке. Бандитские переделы собственности и стрельба. Приватизация, которую часто называют грабительской. Дефолт 98-го. Две чеченские войны. Расстрел Белого дома. Пьяный президент. Жупел, размахивая которым, власть последние 10 лет закручивала и закручивала гайки.

Люди, которые, выйдя на улицы, остановили путч в 91-м. Время свободы, надежд на будущее и безграничных возможностей. Время, когда, казалось, удалось расправиться с коммунистическим наследием, а «взбесившийся принтер» и сотни политзаключенных не могли присниться в страшном сне. Время беспрецедентных рыночных реформ и институционального строительства, удержавших страну от голода, гражданской войны и хаоса, несмотря на насквозь прогнившую советскую инфраструктуру и низкие цены на нефть. Время, когда в стране существовали политическая конкуренция, разделение властей, более или менее свободные выборы и независимый суд.

Какая чаша весов перевешивает?




Михаил Калужский– журналист, драматург, переводчик, куратор театральной программы Сахаровского центра.


Борис Куприянов – писатель, публицист, культуролог, основатель независимого книжного магазина «Фаланстер», заместитель директора Московского городского библиотечного центра, программный директор Московского международного открытого книжного фестиваля, член экспертного совета книжной ярмарки «non/Fictio№».

Денис Драгунский – писатель, сценарист, публицист, культуролог, автор нескольких сборников рассказов, в прошлом – главный редактор аналитических журналов, в 90-е – член Комиссии по идеологии Федерального политсовета партии «Союз правых сил».

Полное видео и стенограмма обсуждения: http://gogol.tv/video/828