From Reform to Transformation
Following the adoption of a programme for political transformation at the XIX Conference, Gorbachev and those around him set about trying to translate it into practice. But the effect of this programme was not only to open up the political system to mass involvement but also challenges by new elite actors from outside the Soviet elite. As a result, the group around Gorbachev found themselves facing opposition not only from conservatives who believed that change had gone too far but also from radicals who believed that change had not gone far enough. Against a background of increasing economic difficulty and heightened local and regional nationalism, declarations of sovereignty by republican governments led to the fragmenting of the system. In this situation, conservative Soviet elements mobilized and struck back, principally in the form of the 1991 putsch, which opened the way to the dismantling of the Soviet Union by Boris Yeltsin in alliance with other national leaders.
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