The development of Russia had many historical turning points. These changes were mainly connected with such political figures as Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin. The Soviet economy depended on mostly political decisions but not economic programs. Although the basic economic system in Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev eras remained unchanged, there were some peculiarities in these periods. The effect of Stalin’s policy had a profound impact on people and the state. In 1928, the Communists instituted the first Five-Year Plan. It dealt with such aspects of development as an industry, consumer goods, agriculture, transportation, communications, health, education, and welfare. Stalin increased centralization and assigned the Soviet economic planning committee Gosplan to make an industrial development plan. It was the creation of a command economy, which became common for almost all periods of the USSR's history.
The main component of the new policy became industrialization on a massive scale, especially in the areas of heavy industry. In 1928-1940, the state had a structural transformation from an agrarian to an industrial economy. The proportion of investment in heavy industry increased dramatically. Simultaneously, Stalin pursued the brutal policy of "collectivization" in agriculture. As a result, all private farmlands were united in collective farms (kolkhozy) and transferred the control into the hands of the Communist party. Also, he
began to liquidate a class of landowners, so-called kulaks. Then he introduced the policy of "price scissors," and forced the farmers to sell grain to the state at below-market prices. The
The main features of the Stalin’s economy were industrialization, collectivization, government control of resources and prices, economic planning (no free market and competition), deficit of goods, state property, full employment, bureaucracy. The command economy eliminated individual initiative. The means of production were publicly owned.
After Stalin's death, a new political path demanded changes of the orienting points in the economy. Nevertheless, no one in the country’s political leadership doubted the principles of administrative-command system. The Stalin's successors only wanted to overcome the extremes of the command economy, such as the absence of material incentives for workers, lagging in innovation development and introduction of scientific and technological achievements into mass production. The new leaders still reaffirmed absolute rejection of a free market and commodity-money relations, and advantages of socialism regarded the best conditions for future development. One of the crucial questions was to solve the food problem and to increase growth of agricultural productivity. All reserves of people`s enthusiasm had already been exhausted, it was necessary to use financial incentives. The economic policy of Stalin's successors was socially oriented. The salaries in the industry, farmers' income and
pensions increased. Education and medicine were free. However, the most striking achievement in 1950 - early 1960 was a large-scale program of housing construction.
Khrushchev and his colleagues have initiated a whole series of measures to increase farm output rapidly. Under Malenkov, they also attempted to accelerate the production of manufactured consumer goods and housing construction (Bergson, n.p.). The first difference from Stalin's economy was a reorientation of heavy industries to the production of consumer goods. Malenkov determined main directions of economic policy: a dramatic rise in consumer goods production, a major investment in light industry. It seemed that such radical reforms would change the fundamental guidelines of the development the Soviet economy, established in previous decades. Unfortunately, economic approaches of Khrushchev were different from that. He dreamt to overtake and surpass the USA in the economic sphere. In 1953 Khrushchev made a series of proposals for the development of agriculture:
- to increase the purchasing prices for agricultural products,
- to make the advance payment for farmers
The main direction became a virgin lands campaign. It means the continuation of extensive economic growth. The most important crop was corn. The soil or the climate or both, much of the vast territory of the U.S.S.R. was unsuitable for this cereal. Khrushchev became known as "corncob Nikita" for these ineffective attempts. The other modification introduced by Khrushchev was a serious organizational reform (economic councils). As a result, he created sovnarchozy. In fact, the governance of the economy began to depend from local initiative. Thus, was made an attempt of decentralizing the power.
The considerable attention has been paid to the technical level of industry. During these years, the energy base of the country was rapidly developing. Khrushchev decided to
modernize the industry and brought back innovations taken away during Stalin`s period. One of the main features in the 1950s became technological revolution. The symbol of scientific
and technical progress in the country was the development of rocketry and the beginning of the development of space. However, the technological innovation and the development of new products were slow. In Khrushchev era, the economy had the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Nevertheless, the deficit of goods took place. The deficit remained as the main feature of the Soviet economy. The economy deficit is a natural phenomenon in the absence of the free market.
Khrushchev resignation was the result of a conspiracy. He was removed and replaced with Leonid Brezhnev in 1964. Leonid Brezhnev partly continued the policy of his predecessor and led the country to decline. It was the era of stagnation. The conservative policy of Brezhnev was similar in some features to Stalin’s era. Brezhnev reimposed much of the Stalin`s period. He implemented again Five Year Plans with a focus on heavy industry. In agriculture, he continued the policy of collectivization. The reform in 1965 eliminated Khrushchev's regional economic councils in favor of the central industrial ministries of the Stalin era ("Russia. The Perestroika Program."). However, farmers could work on state owned plots.
In the industry, the increased expenditure on the military and the space programs over consumer goods and other economic spheres led to the deficit of consumer goods. They were available only on the black market. The significant role played an oil trade with the foreign countries. The Soviet Union received much money from this trade. However, the most important feature of the Brezhnev era was the decline in growth rates after 1970. Strong central planning impeded the development of all spheres. The economy became more complex and industrialized, and it was hard to coordinate all decisions.
After coming to power, Mikhail Gorbachev realized that the political and economic system of the Soviet Union had need serious changes. The economic policy of Gorbachev was different from predecessors. His economic reforms called Perestroika. Firstly, centralized state planning became not so binding as earlier. Labor collectives choose their own directors and the Ministry now only affirmed these solutions. In addition, people could establish cooperatives. It was a good step to private property. Gorbachev thought that such cooperatives would work better and produce a wide variety of goods to eliminate the deficit.
In some cases, enterprises began to work better.
In 1987, Gorbachev decided to make more radical steps than before. For the first time since Lenin's NEP the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors. Then he allowed foreigners to invest in the Soviet Union in the form of joint ventures with state enterprises, and cooperatives ("Russia. The Perestroika Program."). He tried to restructure the entire planning and production system, but could not completely transform the command system to free market economy. His reforms modified the Stalinist system without making truly fundamental changes. The fundamental elements of the Stalinist system-price controls, inconvertibility of the ruble, exclusion of private property ownership, and the government monopoly over most means of production. This new economic system was neither a command economy nor a free market.
After Soviet Union's collapse, Boris Yeltsin became the 1st president of Russia. He was really intended to make Russia liberal and democratic state with free market. The plan was to implement the series of market reforms with the aim of transforming socialist command economy into a free-market. These radical reforms called economic shock therapy. The main aims and features of the transitional economy from 1991 were policies of stabilization, rapid privatization and liberalization of prices and foreign trade. The other aims
were integration into the global economy, creating a competitive market and its infrastructure, struggle against monopoly, supply and demand instead of state order, and reorganization of the tax, banking systems, changes in financial and social policy. All these steps were different from previous economic systems.
Under President Boris Yeltsin, the Russian state made a crucial step from a centrally planned economy to a free market. However, the main problem was a conflict between 2 systems. Yeltsin tried to follow a policy of stabilization. He increased interest rates to extremely high levels to tighten money and restrict credit. Policy of transformation with policy of stabilization led to the economic crisis with devaluation of people`s savings in 1992, a sharp decline in living standards, unpaid wages, the actual ruin of most non-oil sector enterprises in the initial stage of the reform. The economy had growth of the shadow economy, corruption, crime.
The other difference from previous economic systems was new motivation for people. The right for private property was constitutionally adopted. People could own property and had benefits from this. Unfortunately, the features such as the supremacy of group interests (the ruling elite), mafia formations and corruption, regionalism and separatism became the main obstacles in creating a free market economy. Lack of confidence in the government also was one of the obstacles to liberalization of the economy. The other problems were delay in salary payment, and the lack of reliable guarantees of safety deposits in bank accounts. The failure to pay a salary was a serious violation of the fundamental principles of the market economy. Moreover, inefficiency of the state apparatus was the same as in the Soviet Union. The appointments to senior government positions were made on the basis of political and financial considerations. The capturing of the national wealth by individuals became characteristic of the national economic model. The close ties between the world of business,
politics and criminal structures became reality. The mafia, monopoly privatized enterprises, and corrupt officials controlled the most important sectors of the economy, determined prices and made corrupt maneuver to enrich themselves. This is common to some extent with Putin's era.
The significance of the principle "scratch my back and I will scratch your " was also the basis of the economic system. This principle occurred from pre-capitalistic economic relationships and had a great importance in the Soviet society. The economy of the USSR was poorly monetized, and the Soviet people invented the crisis-free payment system, on this principle. For example, you give me a ticket to Bulgaria, and I'll hire your daughter. This principle sometimes guides the modern society in Russia.
The long-term absence in the Soviet economy domestic and foreign competition led to the loss of value and quality directions for Russian producers. At the beginning of the 1990s, a large number of domestic goods were no longer in demand because of their low quality and non-compliance with international standards. Unfortunately, the aim of creation free market economy did not succeed, but it was a historic step towards the new economic system.
When Putin became President in 2000, he pursued market reforms that had been formulated earlier (1996–97). Putin’s most urgent economic concern was the disappearing economic growth. The trade and investments have been increasing. GDP has grown and poverty, inflation has gone down. The three years from 2000 to 2002 were characterized by progressive economic reforms. Most impressive was the comprehensive, radical tax reform. The progressive personal income tax, peaking at 30 percent, was replaced with a flat income tax of 13 percent as of 2001 (Aslund, n.p.). The corporate profit tax was reduced.
Vladimir Putin's economic system combines a strong state with a controlling stake in oil, gas and the defense industries, and oligarchy`s control over the corporations' economic
activity. The Putin model can be characterized as elements of the Soviet system adapted to the conditions of a market economy. What is common with Stalin is also a significant growth in the industry and a significant decline in agriculture. Putin used almost the same means as Stalin for economic development: sale abroad of raw materials and active use of Western technology. Putin was able to dispose of these resources much more efficiently than Stalin. He did not just invest all money in the industry, but spent them on the creation of the country's favorable climate for the development of industry. Natural-resource exports fuel this economy, and spillovers translate economic growth into moderate improvements in the standard of living and income levels nationwide. (Muradov, n.p.). The growth of household appliances production and engineering is impressive. As Brezhnev, Putin focused on a sale to the Europe hydrocarbons. The same thing Brezhnev did. Moreover, Putin and Brezhnev have built new pipelines, tying Europe.
In the 2000s, he introduced principles of competition and transparency into Russia’s system of government procurement. Then Putin implemented initiative to "de-offshore" Russian finance. Russia began to support small and medium-sized enterprises. In 2002, registration, licensing and standardization were simplified, and inspections were restricted. This broad effort at deregulation improved the situation. That year the sale of agricultural land was legalized (Aslund, n.p.). This last communist barrier was broken.
Unfortunately, manufacturing base becomes old and must be replaced or modernized. And the only thing Putin wants to modernize is the defense industry. Nowadays, the growth rate in Russia is stopped and it has appeared comparison with Brezhnev era and his years of stagnation. The economy of Russia can make growth over 5% per year. The problem is that the reforms necessary for such growth include struggle with corruption, protection of property
rights, privatization and integration into the world economy and threaten the ability of the ruling elite to remain in power.
The economic systems of Russia can be traced in accordance with different historical periods. Russia has undergone a transformation from the agricultural economy to developing a free market system. Interestingly, that the most significant changes were begun from revolution and were ended by counterrevolution that in both cases made the Communist party.
Aslund, Anders. "An Assessment of Putin's Economic Policy. Peterson Institute for International Economics." CESifo Forum, July. 2008. Web. 6 Mar. 2014
Bergson, Abram. "The Russian Economy since Stalin." Council on Foreign Relations, Jan.1956. Web. 5 Mar. 2014
Cheremukhin, Anton, Golosov, Mikhail, Guriev, Sergei, Tsyvinski, Aleh. "Was Stalin necessary for Russia's economic development?" VoxEU.org, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 5 March.2014
Jaradeh, Mark. "Brezhnev Overview." Silvapages, 2012. Web. 4 Mar. 2014
Lee, Nick, Hubbard, Erin. "First Five Year Plan and Stalin's Economic Policies." OK Economics, Apr. 2000. Web. 6 Mar. 2014
Muradov, Kirill. "Russia's economic policy under Putin 2.0." HSE, 13 June 2012. Web. 5 Mar.2014
"Russia. The Perestroika Program. "Nations Encyclopedia, July 1996. Web. 7 Mar. 2014
"The Soviet Economy." Economics Case Studies, 2008. Web. 6 Mar.2014
Wood, Andrew. "How the Soviet Inheritance Holds Back Russia's Development." The Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, July 2013. Web. 4 Mar. 2014
Why did the Soviet Union Fall Apart?
The unpredictable collapse of the Soviet Union has greatly changed the political map of the world and power balance in the international system. The debates concerning the causes and consequences of that collapse continue to this day. Different factors led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was already undergoing great difficulties by the late 1970s and early 1980s, bedeviled by stagnant economic performance, a bloated military budget, profound social problems and a state apparatus that was rife with corruption and cynicism (Thomas, n.d.). Firstly, the condition of the Soviet systems` existence and the cause of its collapse was violence. In the twentieth century, especially in its second half, was hard to maintain a system based on violence due to the global trend of democratization and respect for human dignity. The Soviet system came into sharp conflict with the human desire for freedom and justice, with the processes of democratization. The rigid system based on ideological dogmas and security forces showed inability to provide reforms and adapt to the new political, economic, technological and international environment. During 70 years, all attempts to reform either suppressed or stopped.
The next reason is the continuous struggle for power in a ruling party which contributed to the collapse of the USSR. The tension in society began to rise. This situation was connected to the undemocratic and inherently illegitimate nature of power in the Soviet Union. People understood that the ultimate responsibility for the country was in the hands of ruling party. The Soviet bureaucracy determined the country’s future without consideration of the people’s interests. A corruption flourished everywhere. It was necessary to make
a situation more open and to develop the horizontal links of power, so that people have a greater participation in the decision - making process. However, senior party leaders were
hesitant to provide social reforms and had a fear loss of centralized control. The elites were more concerned about their own self-interest than in the interests of people. They were more concerned with their own promotion and self-interest than in socialism. With a failed ideology, a failed economy would come right after as well (Tadros,n.p.). A planned economy was not flexible enough and had revealed a political, economic, social inefficiency. Despite being in possession of vast expanses of fertile agricultural land, the Soviet state was never able to feed its people and relied on grain imports right up to its end.
The messianic policy of hegemonism, the intention to impose communist values to the rest of the world is also a significant reason of breakup the Soviet state. It siphoned off the lion's share of material and spiritual resources of the country. Instead of improving the wellbeing of citizens the state spent a lot of money on petroleum, military warfare in a vain attempt to conquer Afghanistan. Moreover, this war produced widespread discontent in the Soviet society.
The last point is the policy of Gorbachev. Undoubtedly, that glasnost and perestroika led to the collapse of the Soviet state due to the absence of clear implementation program. Gorbachev made serious errors in economic, national and social policy. These reforms have caused disappointment in material poverty among people. Glasnost and perestroika led to the rise of nationalism and pro-independence protests in the Union Republics such as Georgia and in the Baltics. Many conflicts have emerged at that time. The Armenians and the Azeris began ethnic strife in Nagorno-Karabach.
The state has moved to the collapse in the December 1991 when Yeltsin seized power in the country and made the destruction of the USSR inevitable.
Tadros, Geries. "Collapse of the Soviet Union." HubPages. 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 8 Mar. 2014
Thomas, Edwin. "About the End of the Soviet Union." eHow, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014
Climate in the Northeastern part of Eurasia
The Northeastern part of Eurasia is known for its extreme cold winters and short summers. Most of this region is within the borders of the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha), situated in northeastern Siberia, between the Lena and Kolyma Rivers (Pearce, n.p.). The climate is extremely continental, so the temperature greatly fluctuates. The average temperature in January is –43°C, and in July - 18°C.
There are many causes for severe weather conditions. First, the territory lies on the junction of 3 tectonic plates - the Pacific Plate, the Eurasian plate and the North American Plate which determine the rough geographical conditions. The terrain surrounding by cold waters areas gives condition for free circulation of arctic air masses from the Arctic Ocean. The maritime air of temperate latitudes moves away from the Pacific Ocean and brings precipitation. The warm and moist air masses from the east and the south cannot reach the northeastern part due to the mountains.
The amount of precipitation is low. The reasons are the anticyclone weather conditions and the dryness of incoming air masses. Annual precipitation is nearly 290 mm on the whole territory of Yakutia in the form of rain in spring and autumn. The decrease in precipitation is traced from the south part to the north, and from the southwest to the northeast area. There is 150-200 mm precipitation in Central Yakutia and 500-600 mm in the mountains of eastern and southern Yakutia. The vast territory from north to south between 55 and 73 degrees north latitude determines unequal distribution of solar heat energy. The region is located in three climatic zones: arctic, subarctic and temperate. The subarctic zone is dominated on the most part of the territory. The Aleutian Low, circulating systems, blowing over the Arctic, and the seasonal change also affect climate. The location of Northern Siberia affects on daylight
hours. June has over 19 hours of sunlight to Yakutsk, while most of December has over five hours of light.
The severe winter is dry and prolonged. It lasts for 7 months. The snow remains on the ground for up to 250 days. The January temperature may reach – 70°C degrees. The winter weather with temperatures below -35°C, snowstorms and strong winds is quite common. The coldest temperature –71.2°C was fixed in the Oimyakon region. The taiga occupies almost all of the territory. There is a small part of the tundra on the north. The tundra is very cold and windy. These winds can be from 30 to 60 miles per hour. The temperature is no higher than 10°C.
The valley of the river Lena has the longest warm season consisting of 90-100 days. The duration of the warm season varies from the above sea level, the latitude, and the character of the earth surface. The temperature in July is approximately 15°C. On the north of the Arctic Circle, the summer lasts only short one month. Siberia's spring and autumn seasons are short, with a sudden transition from a cold winter to warm summer temperatures. Summer is typically brief, droughty with high temperature in a greater part.
Today, Siberia has an unprecedented increase in permafrost degradation due to global warming. It increases ambient air temperatures, precipitation, and an overall "softening" of the climate. As a result, seasonal timings and ranges of animals and plants are altering.
Thus, the climatic features of Northeastern Eurasia are defined by its geographical location, the complex landform. The other reasons are the free circulation of the arctic air masses, the emergence of a Siberian winter anticyclone, difficulty to access warm and moist air masses from the east and the south.YakutiaToday.Com - Guide to the Sakha Republic ("Climate in Yakutia", n.p.).
Pearce, John . "Northeast Siberian taiga." Ecoregions |WWF, n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014
"Climate in Yakutia". YakutiaToday.Com. Guide to the Sakha Republic , n.d. Web.
8 Mar. 2014