The Soviet Union's ‘nationalities problem’ was one of the fundamental hurdles that Mikhail Gorbachev failed to clear in his attempt at systemic transformation of the USSR. Less understood, and far less studied, was Gorbachev's ‘federalism problem’. The institutional weaknesses of Soviet ‘federalism’ presented serious obstacles to would‐be reformers of the political system as well as to opponents of reform. After 70 years of Soviet rhetoric, there was deep confusion over just what terms like ‘federal’ or ‘sovereignty’ really meant. Efforts to construct a ‘renewed’ USSR and a new Russian Federation were deeply constrained by Soviet institutions and concepts.
Keywords: economic reform; federalism; glasnost; Mikhail Gorbachev; legal reform; Leninism; nationalities; Novo‐Ogarevo Process; sovereignty; Boris Yeltsin
Chapter. 8845 words.
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