They did not move quickly enough, however, and in the autumn of that year Yeltsin simply dissolved the old former soviet political apparatus and declared that a new Duma (Parliament) would be elected. The Duma election was scheduled for 1995 and Yeltsin himself ran for re-election as president in 1996. These events characterized a period of immense political and economic instability and this was the environment in which a new breed of key players was born: the so-called “Russian Oligarchs”.
The term “oligarch” is derived from the Greek meaning “governing by the few” and it usually has negative connotations relating to the abuse of power. There are at least four important factors which contributed to the emergence of the oligarchs and their growing influence in both politics and economic life in the period 1993-1999. This study will look at each of these in turn:
By the autumn of 1993, it was clear to all observers that the old Soviet systems had fallen away and there was no immediate substitute in place. Yeltsin relied upon his personal authority and the support of the military to wrest control out of a disintegrating situation. The scene was set for a new era. Waller (2005: 13) analyses this decade under the heading “The Yeltsin years 1991-1999: reaping the whirlwind” and this is a good description of the mood in Russia across all sections of society. Old systems and habits had simply been swept away and no one could tell what would happen next. Other commentators stress the risks inherent in the new situation: “Russia and the other post-communist societies had to feel their way forwards on the edge of a precipice in the dark.” (Sakwa, 2008: 303). The majority of the population seems to have suffered a certain amount of shock and paralysis. The old communist regime had produced many inefficient