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

1986

Boris Yeltsin was elected First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee of the CPSU and a candidate member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The post of first secretary of the Moscow City Committee was one of the most influential positions in the hierarchy of the CPSU. At the 27th Congress of the CPSU, Boris Yeltsin said that one of the main reasons for bureaucracy, social injustice and abuses in the CPSU, leading to "stagnation" in the country, is the lack of courage among a number of leaders in a timely manner to objectively assess the situation, their personal role, say, albeit bitter, but the truth. We need control over the work of cadres from above and below. Being absolutely loyal to the top party leadership, Yeltsin played the role of "truth-teller", which at that time corresponded to the general political line of Gorbachev and at the same time worked for Yeltsin's authority among the general population. It is assumed that the hard-line Yeltsin was appointed first secretary of the Moscow City Committee in order to remove from the influential Moscow party organization people who interfered with Gorbachev.

At the 27th Congress of the CPSU, Chairman of the Council of Ministers Nikolai Ryzhkov (formerly head of Uralmash) said that in the early 1980s, the economic problems that emerged in the 1970s worsened in the USSR. To accelerate the country's economic development, it was planned to implement the improvement of the system of managing the national economy - in 1986, enterprises that produce half of the country's industrial output switched to self-financing. In 1987, it was planned to transfer 100% of industrial enterprises of the USSR to self-financing. It was also proposed to develop cooperative enterprises and organizations in which people had to work in their free time from their main work. A significant expansion of foreign economic ties was envisaged, including with developed capitalist countries.

At the XXVII Congress, one of Yeltsin's closest associates, First Secretary of the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU, Yuri Petrov, spoke, among other things, who said that the functions of the chief coordinator and res-pondent for economic development should be carried out by territorial bodies of economic management, and not by party bodies, which should only deal with political leadership. Thus, the party member proposed to limit the powers of the party in the economic sphere, despite the fact that these powers, in fact, were the basis of the political influence of the CPSU. That is, the party started political suicide. The heads of the party organizations of the Leningrad Region, the Gorky Region and the Primorsky Territory spoke in a similar way to Petrov. Most likely, this initiative came from the top party leadership, and Yuri Petrov only voiced it at the direction of his senior comrades. However, not all party bosses were ready to bring their future to the altar of democratization. In the final resolution of the congress, it was emphasized that the main sphere of the party's activity was and remains the economy. Despite the call for an increase in the independence of the Soviets of People's Deputies, the new Statute of the CPSU enshrined a provision on the leading role of party organizations in relation to the Soviets, and the party committees of central and territorial economic institutions were given the right to control the activities of these institutions.

Nevertheless, a few months later, the CPSU Central Committee still pushed through a decree that, while exercising political leadership of the Soviets of People's Deputies, the party bodies should pursue a course towards increasing the independence of the Soviets in managing the economy on their territories. Thus, the powers to manage the economy were gradually shifted from party bodies to the Soviets of People's Deputies, but in fact to the executive committees of the Soviets, which, in fact, dictated their will to the Soviets of People's Deputies.

To discuss the decisions of the XXVII Congress of the CPSU, the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev visited the Kuibyshev Region, and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Andrei Gromyko visited the Sverdlovsk Region. The Kuibyshev and Sverdlovsk regions, presumably, were chosen for visiting by the top officials of the state, because mechanical engineering was of great importance in these regions: in the Kuibyshev region was located the leader of the USSR mechanical engineering - the Volga Automobile Plant, in the Sverdlovsk region there was also a machine-building giant - PA Uralmash ... And mechanical engineering was proclaimed by Gorbachev as a priority sector of economic development. Twice as much money was planned for the development of mechanical engineering in the XII five-year plan as in the previous five-year plan. Accordingly, more capital investments were allocated to the Sverdlovsk region as a region with a large machine-building industry than ever before. It was noted that the degree of depreciation of the region's fixed assets was close to 50%, the volume of renewal of machinery and equipment in industry was decreasing with an almost unchanged rate of their retirement. The funds allocated in the XI five-year plan and in 1986 for technical re-equipment were spent on replacing equipment without increasing production capacity and increasing labor productivity.

In the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU, on behalf of the Central Committee of the CPSU, tasks were discussed to accelerate the development and technical re-equipment of the oil and gas complex of Western Siberia. The primary role in the fulfillment of these tasks was played by the divisions of Glavsreduralstroy (construction of residential and industrial infrastructure) and machine-building enterprises of the region (drilling equipment), first of all - PA Uralmash.

The need to accelerate the development of the oil and gas complex was due to the decline in world prices for oil, the sale of which was the main source of foreign exchange for the USSR, which was used to buy scarce consumer goods, including food.

It should be noted that a significant share of the deficit was caused not by a shortage of goods, but by the increased demands of the population, which was dissatisfied with the quality and design of domestic goods, preferring imported things. In addition, the shortage of a number of goods was due to the ill-conceived actions of the authorities (lack of sugar caused by home brewing due to the anti-alcohol campaign) and the rush demand for certain categories of goods associated with psychological reasons (lack of laundry soap).

The shortage of goods gave rise to speculative operations, with which the state fought unsuccessfully. In turn, illegal operations in the economic sphere gave rise to the shadow sector of the economy, which was a breeding ground for the creation of organized criminal groups.

At the end of 1986, the state initiated a cooperative movement in the service and recycling sector, hoping to improve the efficiency of service delivery and production of consumer goods. However, in fact, many cooperatives were created to cover up speculative operations, since this brought in much more income, as a result of which the state had to intensify the fight against unearned income, which was doomed to failure, since the state itself introduced elements of a market economy, refusing to recognize them as such. The contradictory nature of government policies created fertile ground for corruption.

The Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee considered the creation and operation of joint ventures and associations in the USSR with the participation of Soviet and foreign organizations (from socialist, capitalist and developing countries).

The leadership of the Ural Scientific Center of the USSR Academy of Sciences was replaced. Gennady Mesyats, who had previously worked in Tomsk, became the Chairman of the Presidium of the UC AS USSR. Gennady Mesyats, most likely, was the henchman of the secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Yegor Ligachev (the second most influential person in the CPSU), who until 1983 was the first secretary of the Tomsk Regional Committee of the CPSU.

The main construction site of the year in the region was the construction of coke oven battery No. 9 at the Nizhniy Tagil Metallurgical Plant. The construction headquarters was headed by the deputy chief of Glavsreduralstroy Eduard Rossel.

A department for the treatment of drug addiction and substance abuse was opened at the regional narcological hospital. The problem of drug addiction and substance abuse in the USSR was characterized by experts as extreme. About 70% of all misused drugs in the area have been withdrawn from health care. Opinions have been expressed that drug addiction has exacerbated due to the anti-alcohol campaign. However, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in 1986 the media paid increased attention to drug addiction, although the problem did not appear suddenly, and earlier its seriousness was simply underestimated. Drug addiction has been fought in Sverdlovsk since the early 1970s.

In December 1986, mass demonstrations of young people took place in the capital of the Kazakh SSR, Alma-Ata, which escalated into clashes with the police. Events in Kazakhstan are of particular interest due to the fact that processes took place in this republic that had a significant impact on the formation of elites in both the Sverdlovsk re-gion and the USSR as a whole. Probably, this was largely due to the fact that during the Stalinist period, some national minorities were exiled to Kazakhstan, in the opinion of the country's leadership, posing a threat. The most numerous among them were Jews and Germans. Representatives of these particular nationalities in the 1970s received the preferential right to emigrate from the USSR, which made it much easier for their relatives and friends who remained in the USSR to establish ties with foreign countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when foreign economic activity became important competitive advantage.

In many works analyzing the perestroika period, these events were called the first open manifestation of nationalism in the republics of the USSR and the first mass action as a struggle for their rights within the framework of the perestroika liberalization policy. This point of view, in our opinion, is incorrect. It cannot be said that the liberalization announced by Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the reasons for mass demonstrations, because similar demonstrations took place in Kazakhstan before perestroika. In particular, in 1979 there were mass demonstrations in Tselinograd against the Kremlin's plans to create a German autonomous region in Kazakhstan. The leadership of the USSR made concessions and refused to create autonomy. In 1986, under the "liberal" Gorbachev, the central authorities reacted much more harshly and imposed their position, despite the negative reaction of the republic's population.

The speeches in Kazakhstan were connected with the proposal, which could not be refused, from the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee to elect Gennady Vasilyevich Kolbin, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, who had had nothing to do with Kazakhstan before. This contradicted the established traditions, according to which in the national republics a representative of the titular nation was appointed as the first secretary of the Communist Party, and the Slav who looked after him was appointed as the second secretary. The course to replace the Kazakh elites was outlined by the Kremlin back in the summer of 1985, shortly after Gorbachev was appointed General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. It is assumed that Gorbachev decided to get rid of the old guard in the republican elites, who at one time personally associated with the former general secretary Leonid Brezhnev. Similar events, only in an even more severe form, took place in Uzbekistan. It was assumed that the "Brezhnev guard" has a mafia nature and strangles the USSR in its arms. Among these people, apparently, was the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, Dinmukhamed Kunaev. In 1985, resignations began in the republican leadership of Kunaev's closest associates. In 1986, Kunaev turned 75 years old and they decided to send him to retire, simultaneously shaking up the leadership of the republic.

In January 1986, Vladimir Miroshnik, an employee of the central apparatus of the KGB of the USSR, became the new head of the KGB of Kazakhstan. Later, Grigory Knyazev, who had previously headed the Internal Affairs Directorate in the Sverdlovsk region, was appointed head of the republican Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is interesting that Knyazev's wife (Raisa Alekseevna) came to Sverdlovsk from Kazakhstan. As a result of these appointments, force support was laid for the subsequent purge of the republican leadership.

In December 1986, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan was proposed to elect Gennady Kolbin as first secretary, whose candidacy was approved by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Kolbin was a native of the Sverdlovsk region. In the first half of the 1970s, he worked under the leadership of Yakov Ryabov in the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU, from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s - in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR under the leadership of Eduard Shevardnadze, and in the mid-1980s he headed the Ulyanovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU. At all places of work, Kolbin proved himself well with his immediate superiors: Ryabov wanted Kolbin to head the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU after him, Kolbin's relations with Shevardnadze were considered friendly, and in the Ulyanovsk Region, Kolbin won the approval of a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU Yegor Ligachev for his efforts to conduct anti-alcohol campaigns. Probably, Kolbin was an exemplary party apparatchik and managed to leave a good impression of himself among the representatives of almost all the rival clans in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Thus, the candidacy of Gennady Kolbin did not cause much controversy in the Politburo of the CPSU, but it remains unclear why the Politburo did not retain at least the semblance of decency, having appointed Kolbin not the second, but the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. It was this decision that caused the riots. Although the instigators of the riots were most likely representatives of the Kazakh elites, more cautious actions by the Soviet leadership would significantly reduce the success of the troublemakers. The decision of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, so disastrous in its consequences, made a number of researchers assume that the riots were provoked by someone in the Union leadership for their own political purposes throughout the USSR.