Democratization in Russia under Gorbachev, 1985–91: The Birth of a Voluntary Sector

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An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Read preview. Postcommunist Restoration Gorbachev's perestroika began the process of restoring the great disruption represented by the October revolution.

Read preview Overview. Bandelin Praeger, Hough Brookings Institution, Why Tolerate Rigged Elections in Gabon? James M. Prince is a foreign policy analyst and former member Committee.

Mikhail Gorbachev

The Christian Science Monitor, January 7, We use cookies to deliver a better user experience and to show you ads based on your interests. A mother who refused to give up her son for military service was one thing; a mother who had trustingly fulfilled her duty only to be betrayed was quite another. The discussion below examines the ways in which maternal grief escaped state strictures under Gorbachev and came to acquire new political valency. The underlying principle of rendering invisible the losses incurred in Afghanistan, however, also governed more widespread practices during that war.

You must not advertise this. In the early years of the war, for example, the headstones of the graves of soldiers killed in Afghanistan bore only the dates of birth and death.

This was in stark contrast to the official veneration of maternal sacrifice and loss that was so central to the Soviet World War Two iconography. Attempts to do so ran the obvious risk of alienating the relatives and friends of the dead. Furthermore, official security-related reasons for censoring information on the war notwithstanding, this silence could be interpreted as an admission of the illegitimacy of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. This was particularly so after Gorbachev came to power, as grieving mothers sought out and received the attention of the democratic media.

Eventually, the military press appears to have arrived at the realisation that if it did not mention the grieving mothers, the democratic press certainly would, and that the plight of these mothers was a potentially damaging weapon able to be used to discredit the regime. Expressions of concern for the plight of mothers whose sons had been killed, wounded or were missing in Afghanistan became a commonplace in the military press.

Why him? Once I gave a talk at the Polytechnic and afterwards a student came up to me. When I heard that I felt ill and fainted.

Milestones: 1989–1992

Now they say it was all a dreadful mistake—for us and for the Afghan people. He belongs to us now. When my son was taken, it was particularly difficult for me because I had nothing to lean on emotionally. As we have seen, the military press attempted to make sense of this phenomenon by presenting it as a symptom of social decay and the erosion of Soviet values in wider civilian society. But even were this interpretation accepted, it could bring no solace. The previous taboo on peacetime deaths had served to isolate mothers in their grief; now they became aware that their situation was part of a large-scale phenomenon, and that they were not alone.

The peacetime deaths issue also mobilised many mothers of conscripts currently undergoing military service. Isolated calls from within the military for de-classification of statistics on peacetime deaths as a means of rebuilding relations with the community appear to have fallen upon deaf ears. Instead, military responses showed greater concern for saving face than anything else. Occasional expressions of sympathy extended to the mothers by military spokesmen were always heavily qualified and outweighed by the defensiveness which characterised discussion of this issue.

The deaths of conscripts, both in Afghanistan and at home, was an issue that galvanised anti-military and anti-regime public opinion. Ultimately, by attempting to keep these deaths quiet, the regime succeeded only in alienating further a large sector of the population and unwittingly creating a new class of martyrs with considerable moral and symbolic authority. The period covered in this article was only the first stage in an ongoing struggle against human rights abuses in the Soviet, and now the Russian military.

Perestroika: From Re-Building to Collapse

The post-Soviet Russian army has inherited most of the problems which plagued the Soviet army, including dedovshchina and the problem of dealing with secessionist regions within the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, the advances of the Gorbachev era continue to be eroded by the war in Chechnya. A humanities journal specialised in armed forces and military structures in post-Soviet societies. Contents - Previous document. Dedovshchina Frameworks in Russia.

Military Responses to Maternal Grief. Full text PDF Send by e-mail. After a group of mothers successfully lobbied the USSR Supreme Soviet and attained the re-institution of educational deferments in spring , it was decided to give the movement a concrete organisation base, and the CSM was formally established in April Care in internaty was framed as a "right" accorded to vulnerable citizens by the beneficent Soviet state, and the collective care of people with disabilities in institutions designed especially for such purpose was considered optimal for their quality of life.

At the same time, placement in internaty could also be a punitive measure. For example, the elderly or disabled who came under suspicion of the Soviet administration for "disrupting social norms" e. Stephen Dunn and Ethel Dunn note that medical treatment services often were hard to access for persons who refused to be permanently institutionalized. The Soviet system of institutionalization of citizens with disabilities was closely linked to the philosophy and practice of special education.

If the education of children with disabilities was the purview of social elites in the 19th Century Russian Empire, approaches to special education began to change in the early s, when specialized medico-pedagogical approaches to educating exceptional children emerged from the work of intellectuals such as V. Kashchenko, I. Maliarevskii, A. Griboedov, and G. However, Iarskaia-Smirnova and Romanov argue that the curative pedagogy of Kashchenko and his colleagues privileged social and behavioral aspects of development over the medicalized interventions and diagnoses that dominated the German variant.

After the Bolshevik Revolution and the founding of the Soviet Union, where private and religious-based philanthropy were, with a few exceptions during wartime and other crises, forbidden, special education became the purview of the state. Although an outline for special education was developed in , the infrastructure for developing this system was put in place only in the s Iarskaia-Smirnova and Romanov It was not until the s that adequate state financing was provided for residential school-internaty for children with disabilities, which until then had been in the hands of largely uninterested local administrations.

The Soviet system of general education was highly standardized via curricula that did not take into account the needs of exceptional children, whose instruction was undertaken separately from other children. Special education was formulated according to the science of "defectology," which included elements of disciplines such as pedagogy, psychology, and medicine. Defectology was based on the influential work of L. Vygotsky and his concept of the "deficient child" Iarskaia-Smirnova and Romanov , but Vygotsky's ideas, which privileged an integrated and comprehensive approach to physiological, psychological, and social aspects of children's education, were reduced in Soviet defectology to the medical and psychological.

Therefore, the more humanistic "curative pedagogy" of earlier years was replaced by the medicalized defectology, a system notable for the high degree of differentiation, categorization, and stratification. As Kate Thomson describes, "Categorization of children was rooted in an essentially clinical and pathological understanding of the nature of learning difficulties. As described by Andrew Sutton , who evaluated the Soviet system of special education rather positively during the late s, in the Soviet Union special schools were provided for the deaf, the hard-of-hearing, the blind, those with visual problems, and the motor impaired, as well as children with scoliosis, heart conditions and rheumatism, a range of cognitive disabilities, and others.

Sutton notes that "the system provides clear limits for what is possible in curricular terms," and that some categories of children the severely mentally handicapped, children with multiple disabilities, children with severe problems of movement or continence, and children with diagnoses such as autism who, in the West would be offered special education programs, were considered "uneducable" and thus were excluded from the Soviet special education system This "elsewhere" might be an institution where only basic, practical instruction was offered, or, more rarely, the child could be left in the care of the family without any state-provided special education.

There was intense pressure from the state, and particularly from the medical establishment, for parents of children with disabilities to place them in internaty, most of which offered residential special education programs. During interviews with parents of children with disabilities in post-Soviet Ukraine, I was frequently told of their struggles to resist institutionalization of their children during the Soviet period and after. In the absence of available resources to assist parents in caring for their children in the home setting, many parents indeed were compelled to place these children in internaty.

Those who refused were criticized, since the choice to raise an exceptional child in the home was seen by many medical professionals, social workers, and the general public as irresponsible and unwise. As Mykola Swarnyk , a founder of the parents' movement in Ukraine, described,. The conditions in internaty for children with disabilities varied dramatically, and persons who lived in Soviet internaty report some positive assessments of their experience but also voice pointed critiques. There were some exemplary internaty with exceptional staff whose achievements in educating young people with disabilities were truly remarkable, given the limitations of the Soviet model.

Ihor Rasiuk, a man with cerebral palsy who lived at Tsiurupyns'kyi beginning in the mids, provides valuable first-hand accounts of life there Rasiuk a, b. The Tsiurupyns'kyi school-internat was founded in , and housed children with group I disability status. As was typical, the internat was built "in the middle of a desert, far from human eyes," but within ten years the staff and students had turned the grounds into a green space Rasiuk a Rasiuk praises the dedication of the home's teaching staff, and notes that Tsiurupyns'kyi was unique for the emphasis placed on educating children with disabilities, rather than "treating" or "healing" them.

Despite a low teacher student ratio just two teachers worked with each group of students , a surprisingly high number of Tsiurupyns'kyi's students enrolled in institutions of higher education — around sixty percent in the s. This is remarkable given that, as Rasiuk a notes, in the USSR there was a secret directive of the Ministry of Education that blocked persons with significant disabilities i.

Rasiuk himself undertook graduate study in Ukrainian literature at the Kyiv National University of Shevchenko. Thus, in many ways, the Tsiurupyns'kyi children's home may be an example of the internat system working well to provide children with disabilities a quality education. At the same time, Rasiuk is frank about the internat's shortcomings, especially its remote location, which isolated the students and precluded their interaction with "the rest of the world.

When children were taken beyond the confines of the [internat] gates, people wrote angry letters to the director" Rasiuk b Aware of this problem, the teachers invited guests, took the children on field trips, and sought other ways to facilitate social interaction. Nevertheless, Rasiuk admits, the social isolation of children with disabilities, even in excellent institutions such as the Tsiurupyns'kyi school-internat, was not the ideal solution. In general, parents rarely visited their children in internaty, and for many students family relations became strained or severed.

This made it unlikely that children in internaty would ever leave the system. Rasiuk states, "Understand me, I am against internaty for invalids it is a type of reservation ; I would prefer that invalids study and live amongst other people. But today's reality is such that society is not ready to accept invalids, so for now we still need school-internaty" Rasiuk a In Rasiuk's writings, his relatively positive assessment of the Tsiurupyns'kyi school-internat diverges markedly from his experiences at the "home-internat for the elderly and disabled" to which he was transferred at the age of In his autobiographical story "Zalyshytysia liudynoiu" Ukr.

Remaining human , Rasiuk c details his first few days at an institution on the edge of Kyiv.

Democratization in Russia under Gorbachev, - Anne White - Bok () | Bokus

Referring to himself as "Iunak," or "the Youth," Rasiuk describes how he was moved to the internat after being refused entrance into a regular school. Upon arrival, he was not welcomed by staff, who immediately ushered him into "quarantine," a "room with tiled walls, like a morgue…a horrific room devoid of hope" Rasiuk c Rasiuk goes on to describe the overcrowded, chaotic conditions of the internat, where the elderly and people with physical and mental disabilities slept in corridors, and sounds of screaming and "barking" emanated from the rooms.

Residents lived two to four to a room, with just two aides Ukr. This was a place, he concludes, not for "living," but for "existing" Rasiuk c Ruben Gallego articulates a more critical judgment of Soviet internaty in his remarkable semi-autobiographical book, White on Black These are hardly softened by his memories of warm holidays, and some kind, caring attendants, many of them religious "believers. The mixed assessments of Soviet internaty that Rasiuk and Gallego provide underline shortcomings in the Soviet system of institutionalization — the quality of internaty varied widely, and appropriate provisions were not made for long-term care of youth and young adults with disabilities who had been educated and brought up in school-internaty.

Furthermore, the behemoth internat system, which was dependent on the ever-strapped state budget, has proven unable to withstand the economic crises that rocked the former Soviet Union in the s.


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Tragically, during , 38 children died of hunger and cold at the very "exemplary" Tsiurupyns'kyi school-internat under discussion Rasiuk b If, as Rasiuk indicates, Tsiurupyns'kyi was a model school-internat, the fate of other such institutions has undoubtedly been even worse.