Three decades ago, the streets of Moscow were filled with tanks that ended up bombing the building of the Russian parliament and forcibly expelling a group of rebellious legislators.
Although this episode, which at the time kept Russian society and many abroad attentive to events, prevented a possible civil war, it laid the foundations for a new order in the country, which marked its post-Soviet history.
That October 3 and 4, 1993, a new system of vertical government was created in the spheres of Russian power, with little room for incipient democracy, in which controls were scarce and presidential power was abundant. The Legislature was even relegated to the background.
These conditions, which to this day are not only maintained but have intensified, are what allowed Vladimir Putin reach the Kremlin and direct the country to his will from there.
It is enough to see the unjustified war that he ordered on Ukrainethe persecution that exercises against dissent or plebiscite of 2020 in which he reset his mandate clock to zero and thus guaranteed the possibility of governing until 2036.
His two decades in the Kremlin passed almost without great opposition or challenges to his authority until the June uprising, led by someone who knew how to be his ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The leader’s mutiny Wagner Group It weakened his figure and his authority, and his subsequent silence raised big questions. However, exactly two months later, the paramilitary died in a strange plane crash, along with other senior leaders of the group. This was the message that many in Russia had been waiting for for months.
Since then, the country’s elite had to strive to demonstrate their loyalty to the Kremlin leader, who had made clear What would be the future of those who dared to challenge him?.
“With suspicions raised after the uprising, the Russian elite was forced to redouble its efforts to demonstrate loyalty to Putin,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, a researcher at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.
Russian public opinion does not feel much different. The years of persecution against those who think differently have forced many journalists to go into exile or cease their activities out of fear while society debates several times before leading an anti-government demonstration.
“Any large street protest against Putin would be suffocated in a matter of seconds by the current police state“, added Kolesnikov about one of the tools that the authoritarian leader uses to remain firm in power.
From the Kremlin, however, they avoid making this connection between history and the present and, on the contrary, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the country “has left the dark times behind and has drawn its lessons.”
“The level of consolidation of our country is a guarantee against the repetition of such situations,” he added, although analysts disbelieve these teachings that, until now, left the ruler with the most power in office since the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
A trip back in time, until 1990
Boris Yeltsin He became president of Russia after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and after a failed attempt by hardliners in the Soviet cabinet to remove the then ruler from power Mikhail Gorbachev and reverse his reforms.
Since then, Yeltsin and hardline lawmakers led constant clashes over free-market reforms and other measures promoted by the new president. Such was the level of opposition that the vice president himself, Alexander Rutskoi, offered his support to the rebel side.
Against this backdrop, two years later, in October, clashes broke out between government forces and wayward supporters of Parliament. It was then that Yeltsin ordered the dissolution of the State Dumaa measure that the Constitutional Court declared illegal.
The parties attempted to engage in negotiation dialogues that failed.
Thus, on the 3rd of that month, pro-Parliament protesters confronted the police, stormed the mayor’s office and tried to take over the state television broadcasting center, although they failed in the latter case.
The President ordered the mobilization of military forces and tanks, and managed to quell the rebellion – although it claimed the lives of at least 123 people. At that time it was taken as a victory – at some point – or a lesser evil, compared to what the triumph of the rebellious nationalist and communist forces could have unleashed.
However, this fact led Yeltsin to adopt a new constitution with broad powers to the presidency, which led to the current scenario.
Viktor Alksnis, a retired military man who supported the uprising, recalled that October and said that “the power was lying on the ground” and that the parliamentarians could have won if they had shown stronger will and determination.
For his part, Grigory Yavlinsky, a veteran politician who also challenged Yeltsin and opposed Putin, described these events as key in defining the course of history Soviet post in the country, which put the country on the wrong path.
“The result is the system that has brought Russia to where it is now”lament.
(With information from AP)