In 1988, a decisive exchange of blows in the press took place between the two rival camps of the CPSU ideologues, represented by Yegor Ligachev ("conservative" wing) and Alexander Yakovlev ("liberal" wing). The letter from Leningrad teacher Nina Andreeva, published in the newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya, which spoke of the inadmissibility of unequivocal condemnation of the communist past, including the Stalinist period, was recommended by Ligachev for active dissemination and familiarization. In response, Yakovlev published in Pravda a devastating letter to the reactionaries who were hindering perestroika, and obtained from Gorbachev a public condemnation of the ideas expressed in Andreeva's letter (supported by Ligachev).
The CPSU was in a difficult position. On the one hand, in the 1980s, the number of people joining the party increased sharply, as a result of which the number of the party increased several times. On the other hand, the CPSU is rapidly losing its credibility: in the context of the deteriorating economic situation, the ruling and only political party in the country becomes the main object of criticism, which is increasing more and more in the conditions of proclaimed publicity. The official newspaper of the regional committee of the CPSU to the newspaper Uralsky Rabochy published a letter from the workers of Uralmashzavod, where it was said that it was not so much the Western "voices" that caused the serious damage to the authority of the CPSU, but rather embezzlement and corruption. Unheard of before, voluntary withdrawals of people from the ranks of the CPSU are discussed. In 1988, 224 people voluntarily left the Sverdlovsk city party organization.
It should be noted that the mass media, like enterprises, have begun to switch to self-financing and self-financing. As a result, the formal founders of the press (for example, party organs) gradually began to lose control over the editorial policy of the media. The practice of publishing paid materials was spreading, which means that the financial resource began to become an increasingly significant political force. At the highest party level, opinions were even expressed that a certain group of extremists was trying to seize control of the media in the country.
The need to liberalize public life was explained by the fact that the restructuring of the socialist economy requires the activation of the intellectual potential of society, and this is impossible without creating a socio-political atmosphere of openness, freedom of creativity and discussion.
However, democratization in the country was carried out without its most important element - the grassroots. Formally, the basis of democracy at the grassroots level was proclaimed the councils of labor collectives (STK) and the primary party cells at enterprises. But at the same time, there was no legal basis for the activities of the JCC - responsibility for failure to comply with the decisions of the JCC was not spelled out. In the collectives of many thousands of large production associations, the elections of the STK were fictitious due to the too large number of workers. Primary party cells, on the other hand, were financially dependent on district and regional committees, and the salaries of the secretaries of the primary cells were much lower than the salaries of ordinary workers, due to which, after the loss of the authority of the party committees during perestroika, this position was deprived of any prestige. Thus, perestroika was carried out not by the broad public, but by the middle management under the control of the central bodies of state power, which, in the conditions of the frantic pace of transformations, were rapidly losing their ability to control anything.
The "Discussion Tribune", created in 1987 in Sverdlovsk, was accused of the fact that its organizers, among whom were the functionaries of the regional committee of the CPSU, provided advantages to the opposition forces in relation to the CPSU, in particular, representatives in the field of the "Democratic Union", who instilled their point of view, forming a one-sided view of the events taking place in the country. Representatives of the "Tribune" answered that they provide the opportunity to speak to everyone, and the rest depends on their oratorical skills.
In 1988, “informal” associations of citizens were actively created. The head of the "Discussion Tribune" Gennady Burbulis created the Movement "For Democratic Choice". However, in 1988, the Movement "For Democratic Choice" did not particularly show itself in anything, since it was created with an eye to the planned 1989 elections of the USSR People's Deputies. The initiative to hold a number of protests in Sverdlovsk belonged mainly to the Rally 87 group, which actively manifested itself in November 1987 at a rally in support of Boris Yeltsin. Some of the members of the "Meeting-87" group organized the Sverdlovsk branch of the "Democratic Union", which was the most radical opponent of the CPSU among the public organizations that existed at that time. The "patriotic-socialist" associations formed the "Ural People's Front", the founders of which were the historical and cultural association "Fatherland" by Yuri Lipatnikov (formed in 1986) and the "Worker" club (organized on the basis of the turbomotor plant in 1987). The regional branch of the "Democratic Union" and the "Ural People's Front" formed opposite poles of "informal" socio-political associations in Sverdlovsk, which were united only by the support of the disgraced Boris Yeltsin, whom in February 1988 the Plenum of the CPSU Central Committee relieved of his duties as a candidate member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, but Yeltsin Yeltsin remained a member of the CPSU Central Committee. It is interesting that the "disgraced" Yeltsin, being dismissed from the post of first secretary of the Moscow city committee of the CPSU, was appointed first deputy chairman of the USSR Gosstroy - Minister of the USSR, despite the fact that, in accordance with the perestroika plan, in the context of delimiting the functions of party and state bodies, the powers and significance The Council of Ministers of the USSR increased significantly.
One of Yeltsin's closest associates, Yuri Petrov, was dismissed from the post of first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU by the ambassador to Cuba. Leonid Fedorovich Bobykin, who was elected first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee in his place, was immediately attacked by the informal associations of the "democratic" wing as a bloated reactionary who stood on a par with Ligachev and Gromyko. In December 1988, reporting and election conferences of the regional committee and the Sverdlovsk city committee of the CPSU were held, but there were no significant personnel changes. Leonid Bobykin remained the first secretary of the regional committee, but the party workers who worked with Yuri Petrov retained their posts. Yeltsin enjoyed significant support in the Sverdlovsk region: almost all formal and informal political organizations, including the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, were on his side, despite the negative attitude of first secretary Leonid Bobykin to Yeltsin.
At the 19th All-Union Party Conference, the Yeltsin question was one of the most discussed issues. After speaking out against Ligachev and criticizing the course of perestroika at the October plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1987, Yeltsin became one of the most significant political figures in the country. Contrary to all party traditions, Yeltsin Yeltsin gave interviews to US and UK TV channels, explaining that the domestic media took several interviews, but could not publish them due to the ban from above. Yeltsin's populist abilities in the new political conditions of relative publicity gave him significant advantages over boring party apparatchiks, accustomed to undercover intrigues rather than public speeches. If in 1987 Yeltsin Yeltsin repented of his mistakes after speaking at the plenum, then in 1988 he said that his only mistake was his untimely speech (at the festive October plenum dedicated to the anniversary of the revolution), and in essence of his speech he was right. Gorbachev, Ligachev and a number of other party workers gave a negative assessment of Yeltsin's speech at the party conference, but there were also voices in support of him, which was fundamentally different from the situation in 1987. This was partly due to the fact that the composition of the party conference was much wider than the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and partly due to the fact that the political climate began to change and ordinary party workers allowed themselves to express open disagreement with the views of party leaders. Vladimir Volkov, secretary of the party committee of the Kalinin Machine-Building Plant (Sverdlovsk), spoke out strongly in support of Yeltsin. After that, the first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU, Leonid Bobykin, hastened to disown this speech, stating that this was Volkov's private opinion, and not the entire Sverdlovsk delegation.
In October 1988, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR A.A. Gromyko (the second most influential person in the country after Mikhail Gorbachev) retired. According to the memoirs of Gorbachev's adviser, Gromyko was the only member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee whom Gorbachev respected. Gorbachev was elected the new chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, who, being the general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, headed both the party and Soviet state bodies at the same time.
Gorbachev intended to spread this practice of combining leading party posts and the chairmanship of the Council of People's Deputies of the corresponding level throughout the country. This was due to the need to increase the authority of the Soviets to ensure the fullness of their power. Previously, the first secretary of a party organization was a member of the executive committee of the Soviet, and the Soviets were engaged only in legitimizing the decisions of party leaders, implemented by the executive committees. Now it was proposed to elect the first secretary of the party organization as chairman of the Council, thereby confirming the authority of the party leader among the people and in-creasing the authority of the Council, which he will head. It was stipulated that this is only a recommendation and, theoretically, the Council can be headed by a non-partisan one, if the deputies of the Council do not wish to elect the leader of the party organization as their chairman. Nevertheless, critics of such a proposal expressed the idea that in this way the authority of party functionaries, and not of the Soviets of People's Deputies, would be strengthened.
Following the results of the XIX All-Union Party Conference, amendments were made to the Constitution of the USSR, in accordance with which in 1989 elections were planned for a new body of state power - the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR, which was approved by the supreme body of power of the USSR. Along with deputies from territorial and national-territorial districts, the Congress was to elect deputies from all-union public organizations, the largest of which was the CPSU. The congress, which was supposed to meet once a year for 5 years, was given the authority to elect the highest permanent body of power - the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was recognized as the highest official of the USSR.
The Ural Scientific Center of the USSR Academy of Sciences was transformed into the Ural Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, which meant an increase in the status of a scientific organization and expansion of powers for the concentration of scientific potential in the city of Sverdlovsk.
In 1988, the first All-Union Olympiad in Informatics was held in Sverdlovsk, the jury of which was headed by Nikolai Krasovsky, head of the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics of the Ural Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Information was published that the Olympiad was held in Sverdlovsk due to the fact that only in Sverdlovsk schools there were enough computers with suitable characteristics. In 1985, Nikolai Krasovsky, with the support of Vladimir Zhitenev, secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee, came up with the initiative to equip schools with computers. At the expense of industrial enterprises of the region in Dresden (GDR) computers "Robotron" were purchased. It should be noted that at that time Vladimir Putin worked in the KGB station in Dresden, which probably oversaw the Robotron plant.
It was noted that the Nizhniy Tagil Territorial Production Association of Glavsreduralstroy, headed by Deputy Head of Glavsreduralstroy Eduard Rossel, was equipped with powerful computers. Incidentally, the practice of creating such territorial-production associations was condemned by the top party leadership. Initially, it was planned to voluntarily unite independent enterprises, but instead of this, rigidly centralized organizations were created in the localities, which recreated the previous ministerial chapters, only not at the union or republican level, but at the regional level.
On January 1, 1988, the law "On state enterprises" came into force, which secured the right of state enterprises to autonomy of financial and economic activities within cer-tain limits. In addition to activities for the implementation of government orders, enterprises have the opportunity to conduct other activities for profit. The state remained the owner of the property of the enterprise, but the collective of the enterprise was granted extended rights to manage the enterprise.
Despite the introduction of self-financing, enterprises were constrained by regulations. The state order (at Uralmashzavod it was equal to 93%) regulated almost everything. This practice was characterized by the top party leadership as "arbitrariness of the ministries", which was later discovered by the regulatory authorities.
In connection with the transition to self-financing, some large enterprises began to lay off workers to reduce costs. The services of scientific and technical information were also reduced, which reduced the illusory chances of scientific and technological progress in Soviet industry, for the sake of which perestroika was actually started. In pursuit of profit, some enterprises abandoned the production of unprofitable goods, which aggravated the shortage of consumer goods.
Establishing new ties between economic organizations, local planning, financial, banking, procurement bodies, statistics and party bodies was declared a serious problem.
State-owned enterprises received the right to issue securities (shares), but the ownership of shares gave the right only to receive additional income (dividends). The ownership of the enterprises was retained by the state.
In 1988, the Sverdlovsk Region was included in the list of participants in coastal and border trade with several countries of the Far East - China, Japan, North Korea and Vietnam. Rosvneshtorg acted as an intermediary for interaction with Chinese companies. Previously, the region had direct economic ties only with the CMEA countries and Finland. For example, the Serov Metallurgical Plant sold metallurgical waste to Finnish firms, using the proceeds to purchase high-demand goods for the company's employees. Partnership with a West German firm was established by the Pnevmost-Roymashina Association. The management of UralNIIchermet held talks on cooperation with representatives of the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union. Uralgidromash established a joint venture with Dresser (USA). The main goal of expanding cooperation between the USSR and the developed capitalist countries was the modernization of industry. As of 1988, due to the non-competitiveness of Soviet products, raw materials predominated in exports. For example, engineering products accounted for only 1% of the total value of exported goods to Germany. Basically, oil, gas, timber, diamonds were exported.
In 1988, labor productivity in the Sverdlovsk region increased by 4%, and the average wage - by almost 8%, that is, the growth of cash income was almost 2 times faster than the growth of the commodity mass. This led to a sharp increase in the purchasing power of the population and further exacerbated the shortage of goods.
At the XIX All-Union Party Conference, it was proposed to hold a nationwide discussion of the issue of changing retail prices (liberalization) to improve the economy. It was assumed that, as a result, the prices of a number of goods would rise, but the standard of living of the population would be maintained at the expense of compensations.
Despite the legislative permission, trade cooperatives were not created in the region. On the other hand, markets were spontaneously organized, where speculative trade flourished. One of the largest such markets in the region was the Shuvakish market in Sverdlovsk. The police periodically carried out raids on this market, but, according to the police, the small size of the fines did not allow them to effectively fight speculators. As in any illegal business, crime began to flourish on the Shuvakish market, in particular, organized groups of fraudsters - “thimble-givers” acted on the market. Among the detained fraudsters was Sergey Terentyev (born in 1964, at that time a 4th year student at UPI). Probably, it was Terentyev Sergey Veniaminovich, who appeared in the media in the 1990s as one of the leaders of the Uralmash organized crime group.
In 1988, video rental outlets appeared in the region, which became a profitable business for many cooperatives and NTTM centers. The public self-supporting center "Kaskad", created on the initiative of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, employees of the regional Department of Internal Affairs and members of the Leninsky District Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League of Sverdlovsk, has actively joined in this activity. In the 1990s, some leaders of Afghan veterans' organizations were viewed by the media as leaders of organized crime groups.
In 1988, law enforcement agencies uncovered an organized crime group under the leadership of a crime boss nicknamed "Skull". The organized criminal group had the features of a corrupt organization with a clear distribution of responsibilities, a "think tank" and henchmen. An organized crime group from Sverdlovsk spread its networks in Chelya-binsk, Magnitogorsk, and other cities, grew into a union, numbering about sixty major crimes: murders, robberies, robberies, fooling with caps or a thimble. The daily income exceeded several thousand rubles.
In Alapaevsk, after the celebration of the City Day, riots took place, accompanied by attacks on the police. One young man (previously convicted) was killed.
According to the Department of Internal Affairs, in 1988 the operational situation in the region became more complicated, half of all criminal offenses were theft.
According to official statistics, with a decrease in the general level of crime in the region, there was an increase in the most serious crimes - murders, robberies, robberies. The films "Assa" and "Thieves in law" were released, where crime was shown as an influential force that corrupts law enforcement agencies.
Before the beginning of the 19th All-Union Party Conference, the Ogonyok magazine published an article by the investigators of the USSR Prosecutor General's Office Telman Gdlyan and Nikolai Ivanov, “Confrontation,” about organized crime in the USSR. Gdlyan and Ivanov have been investigating corruption crimes in Uzbekistan since 1983. In the course of the investigation of these crimes, in their opinion, they received an overall picture of the functioning of the Soviet system. In the country, objective conditions were created under which it became unprofitable to live and work honestly, which gave rise to thousands of underground millionaires. In the district, regional and republican authorities, in order to get a position and keep it, it was required to pay bribes to the higher authorities, and the Center patronized this structure. In particular, the patron of the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan Rashidov, who stood at the head of the criminal pyramid in the republic, was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev. With the support of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1986-1987, it was possible to prosecute the First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Uzbekistan, four secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan and some first secretaries of regional party committees. Nevertheless, several delegates suspected of corruption were elected to the 19th party conference, which led the authors of the publication to assume that the criminal system is still functioning.
Some researchers argue that the construction of a mafia state in the USSR began with the reign of Brezhnev. Allegedly, under Stalin, corruption of such a scale was im-possible, and Khrushchev did not rule for so long that the state apparatus was so decayed. Under the patronage of Brezhnev, who fell into senility, corruption flourished with the active participation of members of the Brezhnev family and those close to him. However, according to the available information, corruption flourished equally well in Tsarist Russia under the Romanovs, and in Soviet Russia, starting with Lenin, continuing with Stalin and others. It took different forms depending on the economic structure, but did not disappear anywhere. You can read more about this in the Prehistory section (Chapter III "Formation of foreign economic, diplomatic and intelligence activities of Soviet Russia in the first half of the XX century. Comintern"). Most likely, under Brezhnev, only one of the clans of the Soviet mafia was formed, which, due to its proximity to a senior official, gained significant influence, but was not sufficiently integrated into the general mafia-clan system of power. As a result, after the death of Brezhnev, this clan was defeated.
Interestingly, as a result of the investigation in Uzbekistan, almost all top officials were dismissed, except for the head of the KGB of the republic and the military command. It is extremely unlikely that, given the total system of corruption in the republic, these persons were not involved in it. It was suggested that the defeat of the "Brezhnev" mafia clan was the result of a power struggle between the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. From 1985 to 1988, tens of thousands of communists and Komsomol members came to the organs of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs on the recommendation of party committees and labor collectives. It was assumed that this was to serve to improve the health of the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where, as recognized by the top party leadership, serious disruptions in work and abuse were allowed.
One of the most significant problems aggravating the situation in the country was the national question. In 1988, the most acute clash was between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh. High officials asserted that corrupt clans, dealers in the shadow economy, who linked up with criminal elements, were fueling national conflicts. Perhaps it was so, but without appropriate prerequisites, a national conflict cannot be ignited. One of the prerequisites is the failure of the policy of forming a community of the "Soviet people" partly due to the fact that in the 1980s the "Soviet" became a symbol of economic decline throughout the world, partly due to the fact that the regime weakened, which forcefully suppressed any attempts to deny the "Soviet community", but most importantly, there probably were no deep cultural prerequisites for the formation of such a community. Nationalism, as a true or false ideology, became the basis for the formation of a narrowly localized social community, which served as the reason for the disunity of the republics of the USSR. The leadership of the USSR tried to cope with the growth of nationalism by increasing the economic and political independence of the territories, but the proposed level of independence was too little for active nationalists. For example, the Estonian delegation at the XIX All-Union Party Conference proposed to transform the USSR into a de facto confederation with fully economically independent republics.
In relation to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the country's leadership shared in accordance with their ideological preferences: "liberal" Alexander Yakovlev supported Armenia, and "conservative" Yegor Ligachev - Azerbaijan. It should be noted that even at the end of the 19th century, when Prince G.S. Golitsyn was appointed chief of the Cau-casian administration, the opinion began to spread that Azerbaijanis were inclined to support the power of the Russian emperor and, in general, were supporters of unlimited patriarchal and just power. The Armenians, allegedly, were hostile to the tsarist regime and insisted on carrying out liberal reforms.