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The history of the formation of the political and economic elite in the Sverdlovsk region

Classification of groups of the political and economic elite of the Sverdlovsk region in 1990



“Centrifugal intellectuals”:

Gennady Burbulis (Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR)
Yuri Samarin (Sverdlovsk City Council)
Valery Skripchenko (CSTCY “Sverdlovsk”)
Larisa Mishustina (Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR)

“Centrifugal manufacturers”:

Boris Yeltsin (Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR)
Yuri Petrov (USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Eduard Rossel (regional executive committee)


“Centripetal intellectuals”:

Vladimir Zhitenev (Central Committee of the CPSU)
Valery Chichkanov (Ural Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences)

“Centripetal manufacturers”:

Alexander Tizyakov (Kalinin Machine-Building Plant)
Vladimir Kadochnikov (Sverdlovsk City Committee of the CPSU)
Arkady Chernetsky (Ural Chemical Engineering Plant)
Yakov Ryabov (USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Oleg Lobov (Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia)


The classification of groups of the Sverdlovsk elite described below has a predominantly ideological basis. Paying tribute to the importance of family and friendship ties, we proceeded from the assumption that a more significant basis for the formation of influential elite groups is ideological attitudes, which are a more rallying factor for elite groups, and therefore a more important factor in success in the competition for power. Adherence to one ideological platform does not always eliminate contradictions and competition between elite groups, as was shown by the example of the relationship between “conservative” groups during the struggle for primacy in the RSFSR Communist Party, which culminated in the scandal around the “AST” concern. But the conflict between representatives of different ideological platforms is more fundamental, as demonstrated by the course of events after the failure of the putschists, when yesterday's allies instantly dispersed. At the same time, Sverdlovsk residents Gennady Burbulis and Oleg Lobov stood on opposite sides of the barricades, because their worldview differences turned out to be much more significant than the fact that they were fellow countrymen.

The adherence to a certain ideology is not always realized by the adherents of this ideology, especially when it comes to representatives of the elite who are not inclined to intellectual reflection: for example, builders or workers.

Another assumption in the classification of the Sverdlovsk elite was that during perestroika in the second half of the 1980s, the most significant factor in the formation of the new elite was the confrontation between groups within the bureaucratic apparatus. More than a century ago, the thesis of the historian Vasily Klyuchevsky remains true: Russia at all times was ruled not by aristocracy, and not by democracy, but by bureaucracy. Despite significant social transformations, despite a radical change in the economic structure, despite foreign influence on political processes within the country, the structure of the elites in the Sverdlovsk region, which was mainly a reflection of the structure of the Russian elites, remained the same. Some prominent leaders of public opinion, such as human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, failed to become a factor in the transformation of the elite. They served only as a tool in the competitive struggle between different groups of the elite in the course of adaptation of the old elite to the new conditions.

The first axis of differentiation of elites can be considered the social base on which these elites relied. We have identified two main macrogroups: “manufacturers” (specialists producing a material product) and “intellectuals” ((specialists producing an intellectual product). Let us emphasize that we are not talking about the fact that one part of the elite belonged to the intellectuals, and the other to the industrial workers. Both were “administrators” - representatives of the bureaucratic apparatus, but some “administrators” were in charge of the scientific, technical and creative intellectuals, while others were in charge of the collectives of factories.

The macro-group “intellectuals” had a particularly strong influence in Sverdlovsk, due to the high degree of concentration of scientific and educational institutions in the city, which had not only regional, but also macro-regional significance. First of all, such institutions included the Ural Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Ural Polytechnic Institute. Both of these organizations were located in the Kirovsky district of Sverdlovsk as a result of which the authorities of the Kirovsky districtwere directly in charge of these organizations. As a result, the authorities of the Kirovsky district of Sverdlovsk authorities of the Kirovsky district of Sverdlovsk gained special importance not only on the scale of the city, but also on the scale of the region, becoming the structure-forming nucleus of virtually half of the regional elite.

The “manufacturers”losing in influence to the macro-group of the “intellectuals” in Sverdlovsk, had a predominant influence in the “provincial” part of the Sverdlovsk region, which ultimately determined their dominant influence in the region as a whole.

The second axis of elite differentiation was the tendencies of the elite: centrifugal, or centripetal. Moreover, this factor was significant not only when the question arose about the integrity of the USSR, but also long before that, when no one expected that the USSR could collapse in the foreseeable future.

As a result of determining the attitude towards the center of the elite groups in the macro-groups of “manufacturers” and “intellectuals”, we got 4 main groups of the political and economic elite in the Sverdlovsk region.

“Centripetal manufacturers” were represented primarily by executives, whose outlook was largely formed during work at large industrial enterprises of whole Soviet Union significance, primarily those focused on the military-industrial complex. Such enterprises were built on the initiative of the center of the Soviet Union with the use of the resources of the entire USSR as a whole, and the consumers of the products of these enterprises were a wide range of organizations from all over the country. Accordingly, the managers of such enterprises had a predominantly centralized stereotype of thinking, considering the territories in which enterprises and people who lived in these territories were located as a resource, and not a target audience. Territorial authorities for such enterprise managers often looked like "freeloaders", claiming an increasing share of the resources of enterprises for the development of territories and improving the quality of life of people - at best. And in the worst case - to increase their own administrative weight and compensate for their own incompetence in the economic development of the territory.

The most prominent representative of this elite group was the general director of the Kalinin Machine-Building Plant Alexander Tizyakov, who created and headed first the regional association of directors of indus-trial enterprises, and then the All-Union Association of heads of state enterprises. In 1991, Tizyakov became a member of the State Emergency Committee.

In this group, two competing subgroups of influence can be distinguished, which, as far as can be judged, did not differ significantly in ideological attitudes, but the competition for power on a national scale spread them on opposite sides of the barricades. As a result, one subgroup, which included Alexander Tizyakov, organized the Emergency Committee in 1991, and the second group supported Boris Yeltsin. The second subgroup supposedly included the former first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU Yakov Ryabov and the former second secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU Oleg Lobov. The scandal around the state-cooperative concern AST became a critical point in the relationship between these two subgroups.

However, it is possible that the ideological foundations between these groups of influence still existed and ran along the “conservatism-liberalism” axis, which may be indicated by the different attitude towards the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Representatives of the “conservatives” (Yegor Ligachev) supported Azerbaijan in this conflict, and representatives of the “liberal” wing of the CPSU (Alexander Yakovlev) supported Armenia. In this regard, it is interesting that Oleg Lobov in 1989 became the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia.

The group of “centripetal manufacturers” can probably also include Vladimir Kadochnikov (in 1990 – secretary of the Sverdlovsk city committee of the CPSU, then the first secretary of the regional committee of the CPSU) and Arkady Chernetsky (in 1990 – general director of PA “Ural Chemical Engineering Plant”, since 1992 - head administration of Yekaterinburg).

“Centrifugal manufacturers” were represented by the heads of the construction complex, whose task was, first of all, to develop the territory. Taking into account that the Sverdlovsk region could largely provide itself with building materials, the center of the Soviet Union was perceived mainly as an external limiter, cutting down regional resources that could be completely at the disposal of regional construction organizations, but in reality, to a large part, went to other regions and republics of the USSR. This laid the “separatist” tendencies in the political and economic views of the people of this group.

This category includes, first of all, a group of leading employees of construction organizations who have passed a significant part of their career in Nizhny Tagil. Among them, Boris Yeltsin (in 1990 – the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, later - the President of Russia), Yuri Petrov (in 1990 – the USSR ambassador to the Republic of Cuba, later - the head of the administration of President Yeltsin) and Eduard Rossel (in 1990 – the chairman regional executive committee and regional Council of People's Deputies, later - the governor of the Sverdlovsk region).

The “centripetal intellectuals” was determined by the dominance of the concept, according to which human society appears as a single system of hierarchically interconnected elements. Representatives of this group were more inclined to work in the field of transport and information communications, which are a means of communication between individuals in society, forming a single system. One of the influential representatives of this subgroup in the ranks of the Sverdlovsk elite, probably, should be considered the former secretary of the regional committee of the CPSU for ideology Vladimir Zhitenev, who oversaw the activities of scientific organizations in the Sverdlovsk region. His son-in-law, Sergei Shamanov, apparently participated in the creation of the Moscow telecommunications holding SFC System. Also one of the most significant figures in this group was the director of the Institute of Economics of the Ural branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences Valery Chichkanov, who, presumably, took part in the creation of the Soviet-British joint venture Ural (Tekhnezis corporation). The same group of persons should include the founders of the Foratec group of companies, which grew up at the intersection of telecommunications and railways and, presumably, enjoyed the patronage of the former chairman of the Kirov district executive committee of Sverdlovsk Vladimir Sokolov. In addition, representatives of this particular group formed the backbone of the administration of Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), assimilating representatives of other ideological groups who held leading positions in the city: Yuri Samarin and Arkady Chernetsky. This group had a significant representation in the power structures. Probably, this group included the head of the KGB Directorate for the Sverdlovsk Region, Yuri Kornilov, and the former head of the regional Department of Internal Affairs (police), Grigory Knyazev.

The “centrifugal intellectuals” preferred to view the world as a collection of individual individuals, while the vector of movement of society as a whole was defined as the resultant interaction of the multidirectional wills of these individuals. In principle, this concept did not exclude the concept of “centripetal intellectuals”, but representatives of different groups differed from each other in that they considered (often unconsciously) as primary: either the system as a whole, or individual elements that make up the system.

“Centripetal intellectuals”, giving primacy to the system as a whole, preferred centralized forms of government, the subordination of the interests of individual individuals to the public, a greater role of the state in managing the economy. “Centrifugal intellectuals” were inclined towards more liberal forms of social structure and functioning of the economy, giving greater importance to decentralized forms of government and private initiative in the economic sphere.

“Centrifugal intellectuals” were inclined to work in the financial and investment sphere, since it creates conditions for the self-realization of economic agents. One of the leading figures in this group should be considered the deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Gennady Burbulis, who, presumably, brought liberal economists Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais into Boris Yeltsin's entourage in 1991. An important economic resource of this group was the Center for scientific and technical creativity of youth “Sverdlovsk”, with which such political figures as the Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Valery Skripchenko, Chairman of the Sverdlovsk City Council of People's Deputies Yuri Samarin, and Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Larisa Mishustina were associated. With the participation of Center for scientific and technical creativity of youth “Sverdlovsk” the largest commercial bank in the Sverdlovsk region (KUB-bank) was established, whose assets in 1990 exceeded the assets of all other commercial banks in the region combined. It was this group of influence that raised the banner of the liberal-democratic public, which in a mortal battle with the repressive-conservative bureaucratic apparatus. Although in reality this group was part of the same apparatus and, having gained an advantage in the struggle for power with other apparatus groupings, began to act with the same methods as the apparatus it “hated”.

By classifying the elites in this way, we do not assert that any official, industrialist or public figure could be attributed to a particular ideological group. A small number of people had pronounced ideological prefe-rences. The bulk of those in power adhered to these ideological leaders either as a result of kinship and clan ties, or as a result of institutional subordination, or in the hope of reward for loyalty.