V.V.Igrunov. 1989

The modern public movement in the USSR originated from the reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, although ideological and spiritual roots of this movement date back to the dissidents' movement of 1965-1982. However, it should be mentioned from the start that the "informals", i.e. the groups that determine the values and organisational structure of the modern movement, cannot be regarded as direct successors of the dissenting traditions and practically have no dissidents in their ranks. This circumstance has often puzzled both the "informals" and scholars in the Soviet Union and abroad. The analysis of this phenomenon is expected to throw light upon the system of values of the adherents of different movements and give an idea about the intricate mechanisms of political orientation.

So far, Soviet sociologists have not conducted in-depth research which could provide a basis for a serious outline of the modern movement. Hence I shall confine myself in this thesis to a presentation of several hypotheses and describe only some of the phenomena which catch the researchers eye. First of all, I should like to mention that ethnic movements in individual Union republics as well as the Russian ethnic movement known as "Pamyat" (Memory) will not be the subject of the present study. For most part, these movements are distinguished by the supremacy of the idea of ethnic revival as distinct 'from liberal ideas, and are even characterized by an anti-liberal orientation. In this sense, these movements, like the movement of the "informals", are no successors of human rights movements of the '60s and '70s. Still, different ethnic movements have undergone different evolution.

The national-democratic movements of Georgia, Armenia, the Ukraine, and the Baltic republics were to a great extent influenced by the movement of human rights defenders, and therefore the veterans of the '60s and '70s now often head some of the small though the most radical wings of national liberation movements, which emphasize liberal ideas together with the demands of sovereignty.

As for Russian nationalism, it was back in the late '60s when it opposed itself to the liberal-democratic movement and its different wings were largely pro-authoritarian or pro-totalitarian. This kind of orientation has become especially typical of the current Russian patriotic movement, albeit several groups have emerged which proclnini liberal-democratic values (e.g. "Rossy" in Leningrad). However, the political consciousness of this wing deserves a special deep analysis. At any rate, its guidelines heavily rely upon the authoritarian methods of administration and its practices are not devoid of anti-Semitic flavour.

While leaving aside the description of national-democratic movements and regional varieties of the "informals", I should like to limit myself to focusing on the latter movement's individual features and specifically on Moscow's "informals", which hopefully would help give you an idea of the image of the movement as a whole.

The first "informal" groups appeared in the summer ofl986, when the "Regulations on Amateur Associations" came into effect. This document liberalised the registration procedure and the activities of independent public associations. In spite of the fact that journalists took an immediate notice of the nascent groups (the Russian word "neformal" ©informal, unofficial® was a journalistic invention), researchers remained indifferent to this social phenomenon for quite sometime, and it now takes much effort to restore the initial stage of this movement.

Supposedly, the first to come onto the public scene were the groups of "underground" (avante-guarde art) and amateur groups from Moscow and Estonia, as well as Novosibirsk and Leningrad. In Moscow, the emergence of the movement in 1986 was similar to a bomb effect. The Soviet command - and -administrative political system was quick in spotting the provinces' impact on further developments. For instance, the experience of the Novosibirsk Centre of Social Initiatives, in the person of its leader G.Alferenko, exerted most of its influence through the Moscow Club of Social Initiatives (CSI) rather than through the Soviet youth's daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. The Moscow-based club Perestroika and its successors have played an important role in the consolidation of the movement too. But the foundation of Perestroika itself was initiated by Leningrad activists, who found it impossible to set up appropriate structures in their home town.

The first stage - the spring of 1986 - the summer of 1987 — saw the mushrooming of different clubs, which before 1936 had focused on family, sports, medical and educational problems. These clubs also included amateur theatre companies and rock groups, hippies, and hobby groups. They were all atone in their expectations with regard to a rapid development of the social infra structure and beneficial business environment[1]. Since these expectations ran against limited possibilities, the early "informals" began a vigorous search for ways of influencing the situation and on decision-making at the level of local authorities. This kind of activity started attracting the politically active youth who were dissatisfied with their quests of an acceptable role within official structures.

This period is marked by the emergence and development of the Club of Social Initiatives (CSI). The data bank of the cooperative Perspektiva (Prospect) contains several dozens of documents on the early history of the Club. These documents could well serve as a material for a whole thesis, but not a single researcher has found of interest the activity of this Club, an obvious leader of the "informals".

Originally, the membership of the Club was rather unstable and motley. It was joined by representatives of different social standing, some of them being under the influence of two other clubs -- Computer and Nash Arbat (Our Arbat). The documents give no indication of the social objectives pursued by the clubs, which is partly reflected in their names.

However, the situation changed drastically when new members appeared. These were the members of the underground socialist group arrested in 1982 and released in 1983: B.Kagarlitsky, P.Kudyukin, A.Fadin, and G.Pavlovsky, a former co-editor of Poiski (Quests) who returned from an exile in December 1985. Trial-in-error quests gave way to the realisation of the need to change the political, and social reality. This re-orientation resulted in a rapid growth of the Club's ranks, with collective members joining it. (Obshchina [Community], a youth historical and educational club, was one of the collective members). In the spring of 1987, the members of the Club of Social Initiatives joined the freshly established club Perestroika. This affiliation did a lot for apolitical consolidation of the latter.

In August 1987, the Club of Social Initiatives and the Moscow Party Committee arranged a round-table conference with the involvement of more than 300 "informals" from 12 cities. The conference gave rise to the development of a new movement — Memorial — now the major structurally complete movement in the USSR. The major result of the conference was the establishment of a wide information network and fast growing politicalisation of the public movement. August 1987 was the starting point for the movement which became fully aware of its unity, possessed an evolutive assessment of socialist ideals and virtually pushed non-political associations in the background of public attention.

In late 1987, the Club incorporated different groups representing the club Pryamaya Rech (Direct Speech), a rock-and-folk association, and several political clubs of socialist orientation. But this was largely due to inertia, For the time of non-specialized associations had gone. By the early 1988 the Club of Social Initiatives had practically fallen apart, with very few members remaining in its ranks. However, its goals, now of fundamental importance, and methods of activity became clear cut. These included support for the journal The 20th Century and the World, a perestroika booster, and such initiatives as launching a new form of sociological education in the USSR and the establishment of M-B10 (the Russian abbreviation for "the Moscow Public Bureau of Information Exchange"), an information centre of the "informals". The Club held several conferences, among them the one with the Soviet Sociological Association, the All-Union Workshop on Self-Administration in Industry, and a conference of Moscow clubs (June 5-12, 1988) which resulted in the formation of the Moscow Popular Front, which fact, in turn, triggered off the establishment of Popular Fronts throughout Russia. However, in protest against the Moscow Popular Front's populist and semi-official stand the Club of Social initiatives withdrew from the former's ranks, Memorial, Obshchina, Democratic Perestroika, and others followed suit.

At present, the Club of Social Initiatives (CSI) remains a sort of an elite' association, which accomplishes the bulk of its programmes through the personal efforts of its members both in the "informal" movement and in official (state-run) agencies. It should be mentioned here that CSI owes much of its success to the fact that the Soviet sociological association has featured prominently among its founders and supporters (from May 1987).

Another club, whose progress is largely indicative of the development of the "informal" movement, is Moscow's Perestroika, set up in the spring of 1987. The club was widely advertised, including on the central TV, which circumstance facilitated the emergence of similar groups in many of her cities, above all in Leningrad. Perestroika was launched without big problems, which was mainly due to the fact that highly placed intellectuals were among its founding members. The meetings of the club were often held on the premises of the Leningrad Econometrics Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The social background of the membership and their clearly defined orientation towards such objectives as socialism and the Soviet Communist party pledged the club's future respectability, which was not the case with other groups including mostly youngsters and people without high official standing.

It is worth mentioning that unlike CSI Perestroika, from its inception, had clearly defined interests. In spite of the fact that its goals had undergone certain changes, they were closely linked with the discussion of economic, social and political problems. It might seem at first that Perestroika-sponsored discussions would be the continuation of purely academic debates, but its confident action and extensive promotion attracted many "informals", including from CSI, who played no small role in Perestroika's further advance. The meetings of Perestroika activists in the summer of 1987 and a CSI-inspired round-table discussions made the club all the more political. The discussions that took place in the autumn of that year brought about a protracted and painful crisis. At this point, we evidence the main distinctive feature of the period between the second half of 1987 and the first half of 1988: the clubs and groups, which managed to get the support of this or that official organisation and were allowed an access to meeting premises, were a success. Since the number of such group was small and public discussions were restricted, they attracted different categories of the "informals". In the autumn of 1987, after the CSI-inspired investigation of the harassment of hippies by Moscow militia, the club was denied the premises, as far as umbrella organization under whose auspices CSI was originally registered, hastened to refuse from it.

Well-known to the public by the autumn of 1987, Perestroika club was being joined by more and more members from various strata, including radicals from Democracy and Humanism seminar, who rallied around V.Novodvorskaya, a famous political prisoner of the '80s. The opposing views of the participants in the discussions surfaced immediately. The spring sessions of the seminar were a dialogue in a fairly homogenous audience, while the autumn sessions were a manifestation of escapades against bureaucracy, the KGB, and "hypocritical liberals" from the Club's management and the administration of TSEMI, and attacks on "extremists".

Practically each meeting evolved into a conflict, with radical and moderate factions taking shape. The administration of the institute, backed by the management of Perestroika, restrictcd access to the Club's meetings. The split became obvious in the process of drafting the Statutes of the Club, and in January 1988 resulted in the formation of two independent clubs — Democratic Perestroika and Perestroika-88, with the latter's radicals denied both premises and support and its members barred from admittance to the meetings of Democratic Perestroika. Later on, however, restrictions were softened, and by the summer of 1988 had been finally removed altogether. True, by Perestroika-88's meetings had lost all their attraction for the radicals.

To be precise, I must admit that radicalism was not the only cause of the split. Ethical reasons united, for the time being, two different groups under the colours of Perestroika-88. These two groups were drawn together by non-acceptance of authoritarianism and forceful methods of settlement of conflicts. Consequently, the tessellate composition of Perestroika-88 sparked off that club's disintegration.

As it turned out during the split, among the radicals of Perestroika-88 there was not a single holder of a Doctor's degree, and there was only a few Candidates of Sciences, just one Communist, but too many people without permanent residence and occupation. The status of the moderate Democratic Perestroika was much more solid, although not so impressive as that of the participants in its spring sessions. Incidentally, Moskovskaya Tribuna (Moscow's Rostrum), founded by such prominent scientists as Andrei Sakharov, Roald Sagdeev, Tatyana Zaslavskaya, Yuri Afanasyev and others, failed to comply with the framework of its Declaration and could not help turning into a political rostrum, either.

After the split, the ways of Democratic Perestroika and Perestroika-88 ran further apart. The latter came up with a Statutes, which emphasized its orientation as a pluralistic discussion club. This circumstance prevented it from obtaining a registration permit (actively sought for by Democratic Perestroika), and it eventually gave up the attempts. The six-month-long search for patrons proved fruitless, and for two months the meetings of the club were held in a base mentun officially leased from one government agency. To make things worse, Perestroika-88 was denied the right to lease even this kind of premises after the anti-Stalinist manifestation it held on March 6, 1988 in Oktyabrskaya Square in Moscow.

With no meeting premises at its disposal and an aggravated discord in the course of the preparation of a series of manifestations, the collapse of Perestroika-88 became imminent not withstanding the fact that its members considered themselves a single organisation till the autumn of 1988. The members of the club, associating themselves with the ideas of "street action", blocked with the participants in the seminar Democracy and Humanism to form the Democratic Alliance in May 1988 and found an inter-club organisation Committee for Social Protection. The adherents of Perestroika-88 primarily accustomed to discussion activities gradually dissolved in other clubs and groups — Memorial, Socialist Initiative, Chronograph newspaper and some others.

Democratic Perestroika has proved to be more long-lived. In January 1988, its Statutes was adopted, with the TSEMI administration's - requirements and the district Party committee's comments taken into consideration. Then, in spite of the difficulties with registration, which took Democratic Perestroika almost one year to obtain, the club succeeded in ensuring decent conditions for its activity. This gave its leaders hopes that the club could act as a formation basis for a social-democratic party, which was the secretly cherished objective of many leaders of Democratic Perestroika. With the Democratic Alliance coming to the fore and passionate manifestations in the summer of 1988 Democratic Perestroika became more radical and made attempts to head the unification movement. On June 5-12, 1988, together with the Socialist Initiative and Obshchina, it initiated the establishment of Moscow's Popular Front (MPF). Democratic Perestroika had remained the Front's member till late August 1988, i.e. longer them Memorial, CSI, Obshchina, Civic Dignity, and some others. However, it was fairly obvious that the withdrawal of intellectual theoreticians from the Popular Front was inevitable, and in the autumn of 1988 the latter's role in public life began declining, while its ranks were growing. The public movement reached its peak in the spring of 1989 daring the election campaign and the Congress of People's Deputies, its manifestations growing more active and people taking to the streets. Moscow's Popular Front and Memorial were especially active in manifestations, while Democratic Perestroika was strongly rivaled by Moscow's Rostrum. In the spring of 1989, Democratic Perestroika, with its powerful material backing and led by energetic theoreticians, got down to the establishment of a social-democratic party and in June 1989 became the leader of this process. According to its leaders, Democratic Perestroika viewed its further activity as fully associated with that of the social-democratic party.

In order to give an extensive presentation of the public movement of the second half of the '80s, a profile on the All-Union Socio-political Club (AUSPC) would also be in place here. A letter to Komsomolskaya Pravda by A.Sukharev, a young socialist-oriented provincial, gave an impetus to the emergence of that club. In his letter, Sukharev shared his views with the paper on the prospects of Soviet economy. Flooded with readers' letters, he distributed them among his friends, who, in turn, got in touch with their authors. In their letters they discussed such problems as the foundations of socialism, the real state of Soviet society and the Soviet economy. Correspondence exchange gave rise to the idea of holding a conference in Moscow on May 1-3, 1987, which resulted in the proclamation of a Social-Political Club by Correspondence and exerted a great influence on many "informals". This conference prompted the August 1987 conference of CSI. The desire to seize the leading positions in the nascet movement was probably the dominating feature in the activity of the "informals" at that time, with the All-Union Socio-Political Club (AUSPC) and the Club of Social Initiatives being the main rivals in that drive. Both clubs held their conferences in August, but failed to unite. At its second conference (August 23-26) the Socio-Political Club by Correspondence changed its name to the ALL-Union Socio-Political Club (AUSPC).

The composition of the attendees was largely indicative. "These were mainly young technocrats and university and high-school students in the average age bracket of 25-30. Characteristically, the AUSPC leaders were 20-25 years old on the average, whereas those of Perestroika and other clubs of that period were between 35 and 40. The AUSPC second conference showed that the vague views which had existed at the budding stage of the club gave way to a more goal-oriented quest for concept. Two rival factions emerged within the framework of the club — social-democratic and Marxist-Leninist. However, the former group was bent on "creative" Marxism-Leninism. Factionalism proved ruinous for the AUSPC as well as for CSI and Perestroika, which finally dissolved following the appearance of factions within their frameworks.

After the AUSPC second conference, the club was joined by the seminar Democracy and Humanism, which fact met with are solute resistance on the pan of the Marxist-Leninist wing, who declared that "the activity of the seminar contradicts the principles of the Soviet Constitution (and, consequently, the AUSPC Statutes), which means that it shall not be the member of our club. As a matter of fact, the actions of Democracy and Humanism are spearheaded against the revolutionary changes in our country," against the gains of the October Revolution, and against Communism as the supreme goal of the Soviet people."

In response, the social democrats said that "if any group or member of the AUSPC is expelled from the club for criticising the Soviet Constitution, which will mean that the "spirit of the club" implies a ban on criticism of the Soviet Constitution, then the social democrats will be compelled to leave the AUSPC." According to the club's practice, debates by correspondence lasted for three months. In January 1988, the AUSPC third conference convened in Moscow with the aim of affirming Marxist-Leninist principles and expelling from its ranks the liberal-democratic faction, which declared: "We see our future as a parliamentary, pluralistic state in which all ideologies will enjoy equal rights..." The Marxist-Leninists' answer read as follows: "...the idea of a multi-party system in the USSR is erroneous and harmful..." And so the liberals were thrown out of Marxist-Leninists' ranks. The social democrats and Sukharev, the non-faction founding father, responded by pulling out of the clubs' membership and forming an All-Union Socio-Political Bloc, which later dissipated in the whirls of the "informal" movement.

Nonetheless, in 1988 social democrats made several attempts to unite democratically-minded socialists and made preparations for the creation of a Social-Democratic Confederation (subsequently, Association). The AUSPC, now essentially Marxist-Leninist, has also dissolved. Its one part took an active part in the initiating of and uniting Popular Fronts, while its other part became the foundation of an underground Association of Workers' Groups, whose primary objective is the early establishment of the dictatorship of proletariat in the Soviet Union.

Obshchina, which had seceded the CSI, made efficient use of the extensive network of the AUSPC's contacts when setting up the FSOK, the Union of Independent Socialists and the Confederation of Anarchists-Syndicalists.

Thus, simultaneously three clubs broke up. Those were the clubs which played the most prominent role in the formation of the public movement that started associating itself with the "informals".



The establishment in February 1988 of the Democratic Union, an opposition party, initiated by the liberal and West-oriented seminar Democracy and Socialism, was a major milestone. Having incorporated the legal commission of Perestroika-88, the seminar got down to an active action to hold its constituent congress on May 7-9, 1988. Accepted by the new public movement as a curious phenomenon, the congress of Democracy and Socialism aroused keen public interest and provoked a series of harsh repressions by the official authorities.

The emergence of the Democratic Union triggered off the establishment of other associations. In early 1988, the idea of the Popular Front, launched by the prominent lawyer Boris Kuroshvili, appeared as consolidating ground for the socialist groups of Moscow and Leningrad, and pursuant to the establishment of the Popular Front of Estonia and of the Democratic Union it transformed into a sort of rush, which resulted in a hectic organisational activity whipped up by the fear of ceding the streets and broad public masses to the "bourgeois" Democratic Union. Soon a favourable occasion presented itself for the creation of a Popular Front. The Soviet Sociological Association's commission for the study of public movements supported the CSI's initiative to convene a conference of the "informals" similar to the one held in August 1987, and, having solicited the CPSU Central Commitiee's consent, extended the premises of the Moscow Palace of Youth to the organisational committee of the conference.

However, the holding of the conference was accompanied by several preconditions. The first stipulated that the "informals" had to confine themselves to the discussion of the party conference theses and not to come up with statements on any other issues. The second precondition said that the composition of the conference should be 100% socialist. The latter idea was hailed by the majority of the clubs that voiced their readiness to set up "druzhinas"--teams of workers—to guard the premises of the conference from the "informals" of other trends and dissidents. Among the proponents of the idea were Obshchina, the AUSPC, the Socialist Initiative, though headed by M.Malutin of the Democratic Perestroika.

The CSI, no longer the socialist club it had been a year before, and Perestroika-88 succeeded in securing the admission to the conference for the clubs of non-socialist orientation, with other clubs being granted the status of guests. The total number of conferees exceeded 500.

The first precondition of the arrangement of the conference was brushed aside by the socialists, who, at the preparatory stage of the conference, decided to set up a Popular Front conceived as an alliance of all socialist groups of the country under the guidance of Moscow leaders.

The major outcome of the conference was the proclamation of the Organising Committee of the Popular Front, joined by the CSI and the political seminar Perestroika-88. The event was preceded by heated debates, which resulted in these clubs gaining the support of Civic Dignity and making the latter abandon its street-oriented bloc with Obshchina, which prevented populist clubs from an excessive use of socialist phraseology. Memorial abstained from making any decision. Consequently, given the absence of a clearly defined procedure, Socialist Initiative succeeded in making use of the votes of small socialist groups to form an authoritarian strucrure. This led to the withdrawal from the Organising Commitiee of all major organisations, including Obshchina, which started a tough rivalry with the rapidly consolidating Socialist Initiative. This step took Obshchina to a relatively swift breakaway from ideological mimicry and an open proclamation of anarchist ideas, which fact made it finally possible to delineate the spheres of influence of these two clubs. Whereas Socialist Initiative became the real centre of the formation of the Moscow Popular Front, Obshchina, through forming the Union of Independent Socialists, became the founder of the All-Union Confederation of Anarchists-Socialists.

Late in August 1988, the Organising Committee of the Moscow Popular Front convened a congress of popular fronts and other democratic movements. The congress failed to work out a single structure, though representatives of thirty group, which accounted for less than half of the participants of the congress, came to an agreement on setting up a united organisation. However, the decision was not implemented. The Leningrad congress discredited the idea of unification for along time ahead and blackened the reputation of Moscow's shady politicians. In less than a year, the Moscow Popular Front made another abortive attempt at unification. At the initiative of M-BIO, the congress adopted a decision to set up an information network for the public movement. The network was conceived as a structure consisting of independent information exchange centres, but the practical implementation of the idea was far from successful. Information centres in Ryazan and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk were performing quite steadily, but during a certain period even two centres were working for the Moscow Popular Front. It was only M-BIO, which scored impressive result: and contributed to the re-organisation of Memorial in provinces and the establishment of an information and research centre of the Perspektiva cooperative.

The successors of the civil rights movement—Glasnost and Express-Khronika in Moscow and the Siberian Information agency in Novosibirsk and Irkutsk—managed to establish a much more effective information network.

The development of major associations proved to be rather dramatic. The expulsion of some members from the Democratic Union gave rise to the two Democratic parties and one Radical party. Some of the members of the Moscow Popular Front acted as the founders of Russia's Popular Front. After the latter's leader V. Skurlatov was accused of anti-Semitism, a split occurred between Popular Fronts of Moscow and Russia, which ended in their rivalry. Russia' Popular Front then fell into two parts, while a Democratic faction took shape within the framework of the Moscow Popular Front. Nevertheless, small groups were gradually dissolving in the above two fronts, thus forming more or less small homogeneous structures.


1986 - 1988. Summary.

As of December 1988-March 1989, with the election campaign underway in this country, Moscow had 200 political clubs, ranging from 3 to 5 up to 100 members in Moscow's Rostrum. Most adherents of these clubs were also members of different Popular Fronts, though they had not lost their autonomy by that time. Several groups with membership from 30 to 60 enjoyed independence.

Memorial turned out to be the biggest association. The constituent assembly of its Moscow branch was attended by some 500 activists, and its ranks totalled about 1,000 members. At the same time, the Moscow Popular Front was 500-600 strong, and the Democratic Union, 200 strong. The total strength of politically-oriented groups in Moscow can be roughly put at 3,500 - 4,000 members, excluding such patriotically oriented formations as Pamyat. So far we have no reliable statistics, and the calculation of the exact number of "infomals" is fairly approximate due to the fact that most of them simultaneously affiliate to different groups.

A "more detailed analysis should be made to characterise the groups. Very few of them emphasize intellectual activity that would focus on an in-depth analysis of the situation, on drawing up draft laws and documents, and on the elaboration of specific mechanisms to resolve social and political problems. CSI, Democratic Perestroika and Moscow's Rostrum are the leaders in the group, taking a more or less active, part in mass functions. CSI, however, abstains from mass meetings with the exception of the one held on May 21, 1989 in Luzhniki as well as manifestations, but, on the other hand, it has yet up two cooperatives, scientific and educational entities, which have integrated into the official structure. All the three mentioned clubs adhere to liberal orientation with moderate demands and are relatively remote from ideological bias.

An equally small number of clubs are engaged in educational activity. Their ideological spectrum is rather wide - from the liberal seminar Democracy and Humanism to the radical-leftist Socialist Initiative, with most of them focusing on the training of cadres for their political parties.

Memorial centers on research and educational activities and has no clearly expressed ideological preferences. But it also devotes much attention to propagation in the masses, and was involved in many public events, including major manifestations. Although Memorial often declares its non-political nature, even in Moscow and particularly in the provinces its functions arc clearly political. The bulk of the clubs lean on political actions primarily street action, which is typical of the Democratic of Union and Moscow's Popular Front.

Some of the groups come out in favour of civil rights protection. Among them are the committees of Social Protection and a newly emerging Sotsprof (Socialist Trade Union). Major groups have specialised sections which concentrate on legal assistance, material aid and moral support for the deprived part of the population. The legal section of Memorial, for one, offers support to political prisoners and the irrelatives. Prison and Freedom is deeply concerned over the fate of prisoners', especially teenagers. Miloserdiye (Kindness), is another independent association, has received a warm welcome from the public, but was immediately placed under official control. Several attempt were made to establish organisations protecting children's rights.

Declarations by some women participating in the public movement are marked by feminist sentiments. Several issues of Zhenskoye Chtenie (Reading for Women) have been disseminated in Moscow. There exist several groups specialising on problems of self-administration in the manufacturing sector. Their activity is marked by lack of initiative, and it is mainly underground groups seeking the establishment of the dictatorship of proletariat that contact them.

The socio-political movement at the present stage of its development abounds in different types of groups engaged inquests for solutions for political and social problems through theatre, music, and literature, and therefore uniting the people of art and letters who emphasize both their own specific and general socio-political ends. The extent of politicisation and involvement in public life varies among these communities. For instance, the Authors' Songs Theatre and the Theatre on the Boards are highly sociable, while the Amateur Songs Club and the Alliance of Artists Bitsa are more self-contained. Religious and philosophical groups' involvement in public life is also different, Church and Perestroika being the front-rankers among them.

Politically oriented groups also differ with regard to their ideological platforms. The groups declaring for Western type liberalisation are very few, and are represented by the press-club Glasnost and ex-fighters for civil rights. The leaders in this group of associations are the liberal-democratic faction of the Democratic Union, Civic Dignity, Friendship and Dialogue, Doveriye (Trust), and some others accounting for 8 to 10 percent of the total public movement membership. Pluralistic groups, distinguished by loose ideological concepts, have also a certain number of liberal - democratically - minded "informals".

The Democratic Perestroika, the social-democratic faction of the Democratic Union, Sotsprof and a few others are the adherents of moderate socialist convictions and account for 8 to 10 percent of the total membership of the public movement. As a matter of fact, the majority of participants in the public movement who do not declare their views can be referred to this category. Taking into account this type of latent membership, one can assume that every fourth "informal" may belong to moderate socialists.

About half of the participants in the movement are socialist of different orientation or the adherents of official ideology, ranging from Trotskyites to proponents of Gorbachev's reforms. Besides the above-mentioned groups and associations I would also like to mention Che Guevara and Farabundo Marti International brigades, the Moscow Party Club and several small groups backing Boris Yeltsin.

Underground pro-socialist radicals make up hardly one or two percent of the entire movement. No matter whether democratic like the Federation of Social Consolidation, or Christian-Democratic part of the participants lean above all on national and patriotic values, accounting for 5 to 10 percent of the "informals"' ranks.

Environmentalists, or the "greens", play an important role in the movement, the leaders among them being SES (the Russian abbreviation for Local Sanitation and Hygiene Authority) and Ecology, 21st Century. All in all, the ranks of ecologists are 1,000 - strong, while practically every fourth member of the movement is deeply concerned over "environmental problenis.

Groups of local self-administration deserve a special mention. In 1988, only one group, in Brateevo (a district in the south of Moscow), was recognised as influential.

In the late 1985-early 1986, different agencies of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation initiated the establishment or promoted the revival of clubs specialising in various types of activities—leisure, family and education, physical culture and medicine, etc. The Ministry's attempt at breathing a new life in clubs' activity was most probably a policy designed to abate crime and influence the behaviour of juvenile delinquents. When at the peak of this activity genuinely amateur clubs mushroomed and started spreading in the socio-political sphere, they were actually independent. The outside support for such clubs relied in fact on the personal initiative of managers of some enterprises, cautious and wary as to the limits of the admissible.

Throughout 1986 and in the former half of 1987 the authorities and official bodies paid little attention to the "informals". However, the formation of the AUSPC caused serious concern for the Komsomol, or the Young Communist league—YCL (an oiganisation without powers but docile to lite Soviet Communist Party policies vis-a-vis the young generation). The latter unleashed a vigorous press campaign against the "informals", who preferred to seek support with the Communist Party. In spite of the zigzags in the CPSU's policy with regard to the "informals", the support of the Moscow Party Committee enabled the CSI to hold a round-table discussion in August 1987.

This was an event of major significance for the "informals" self-organisation. It also signalled a change in the official attitude towards them. Though the CSI had been harassed prior to the August 1987 round-table discussion on the grounds of the investigation into the beatings of hippies by the Moscow militia. But that was a case when militia was acting under the impact of stereotypes, while the leaders of founding organisations hastily washed their hands of hassles. After the August discussion the Komsomol was the first to come to realise the danger of radicalisation of the "informals" and the fact that their movement was attractive for the young. However, the YCL Central Committee's struggle against the "informals" proved fruitless, and it was compelled to change its tactics. First, it divided the "informals" into "bad" and "good", i.e. those supposing or opposing the ideas of sociaiism, or into "working" and "twaddling": after which, at the end of 1988, its ideological activity dwindled.

The following two events in the "informals'" life gave rise to a harsh reaction on the part of the Ministry of the Interior and the Party bodies: the Memorial's initiative of collecting signatures under the appeal to build a memorial complex to the victims of Stalin's repressions, and the CSI-and Obshchina -inspired manifestations in support of Boris Yeltsin. The Memorial's activists were detained by militia in the streets the moment they appeared with the lists of signatures, which often resembled riot dispersals. After their first public appearance six activists were arrested and fined, but the public opinion was already in the position to prevent the authorities from recovering the fines.

The rally in Yelsin's support was banned, in-door meetings dispersed, the campaigners were kept under close surveillance during ten days and an unsanctioned persecution of them was started. Officials from the Prosecutor General's Office appeared at the organisations where the Memorial members worked, and in some instances the reprisals were limited to telephone conversations with their bosses. There were also anonymous calls with threats and slander addressed to the Memorial's activists. Possibly, this was done with the employers' consent or at their initiative. In the early 1988, an inquiry of G.Pelman, a CSI leader, was initiated by the Moscow City, Party Committee and addressed to the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The management of the Soviet Sociclogical Association, however, failed to pluck enough courage to protect the Pelman, its member, from attacks. Anyway, six persons were sacked within a short period of time, and many others severely criticised in the press. True, several months later Boris Kagarlitsky succeeded in winning his case against Komsomolskaya Pravda (an official youth daily).

The late 1987 saw budding frictions between the "informals" and the administration of government agencies, which leased them meeting premises. Restrictions and bans were growing together, and there is evidence that some of them were inspired by district Party committees. This led to an accelerated divergence of the wings of the movement, with radical clubs deviating from the movement's line of activity and taking to streets. However, Memorial, in a bid to avoid asplit, got down to gathering signatures in theatres, offices and sanctioned meetings, while Democracy and Humanism, Perestroika-88, and Civic Dignity took an active part in manifestations. The striving to pool efforts was undermined by a differing degree of radicalism. Civic Dignity was lucky enough to stage an anti-Stalinist demonstration, which united the "informals" from different groups and some dissidents. On March 7, the total number of demonstrators reached 100. But the demonstration was foiled on the authorities' demand and the rally did not take place. Though in comparison with Pcrestroika-88's demonstration, which was ruthlessly suppressed the day before, on March 6, the Civic Dignity's action was a major success of the "informals".

The atrocious dispersals of demonstrations arranged by Democracy and Humanism, Trust, and Freedom of Emigration For All gave rise to the formation of the medium in which the Democratic Union was born. During the whole year all the rallies of this party were dispersed with undisguised brutality. The only exception was the meeting and demonstration on June 1, 1988 in memory of the shooting in 1962 in Novocherkassk. Incidentally, these functions were held during the Moscow visit of US President Ronald Reagan, which triggered off mass street action in Moscow. On May 18 Obshchina and Civic Dignity marched in Moscow's streets under black and red banners and staged a spontaneous rally in Pushkin Square. Henceforth, Pushkin Square became the meeting place for different socialist clubs, as well as for the Democratic Union. During President Reagan's stay in Moscow militia obstructed any free rallies but was cautious enough not to resort to violence. When President Regan left Moscow for the United States, the reprisals intensified manifold: demonstrators were detained and kept under arrest for 15 days and even beaten.

At this stage, one could clearly see the polarisation of participants in the public movement. Docile adherents of the Popular Front were admonished, their reaction full of understanding. But some of them were detained and fined or even sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. The champions of the Democratic Union were harassed, their rallies dispersed with the use of force and activists sentenced to one term after another. The activists of Memorial and speakers from Pamyat were however unaffected by harassment. Militia brutalities forced the Popular Front, which had split by that time, to abandon the practice of rallies, while the Democratic Union suspended any action, preparing for a powerful manifestation of August 21.

On August 21 specially trained troops were used to disperse demonstrations. Servicemen in flack-jackets cut into the cordoned crowd and started beating the demonstrators, wrenching out their arms and then taking them to the buses standing nearby. Some 150 of them were put to trial and severely fined, and dozen of others sentenced to different terms.

Against the background of perestroika and glasnost the scenes of unprecedented brutality before the eyes of the press and Moscow's respectable intellectuals gave rise to a public vigorous outcry. The press widely commented on the dispersals, and eminent writers and scholars voiced protest against violent action unleashed by the authorities.

Right after August 21 it surfaced that the Supreme Soviet (USSR's parliament) had adopted two decrees--on the procedure of organising street manifestations and on the internal troops, which were regarded by the intellectuals and the "informals" as a green light to violence. The debates over these two decrees washed out the difference between the "informals" and the liberal part of the establishment, thus sparking off a rapprochement tendency—one of the most graphic features of the movement. The developments that followed out shadowed the protests by the "informals" against temporary regulations on street manifestations that were practised not only in Moscow and Leningrad but in other places too, after Boris Yeltsin's resignation.

The Democratic Union's demonstration of September 5 dedicated to the 70th anniversary of red terror was also broken up, although this time militia's action was not so conspicuous and large-scale as previously. Journalists were allowed to get inside the militia cordons (in this connection there was a special order known only to a handful of high-ranking militiamen). Nevertheless, they were sometimes beaten, and a Moscow News (official newspaper) correspondent was detained.

On both occasions — on August 21 and on September 5 - the detainees were charged with faked accusations and given severe sentences, which further aggravated public discontent. Though the use of special riot troops became commonplace, their methods grew softer. On the other hand, the "informals" thought better of staging unsanctioned manifestations. Hence only the radicals from the Democratic Union and Freedom of Emigration ventured to challenge the law enforcement bodies before the start of the election campaign.

It should be noted that dogs were not set on people in Moscow's streets, as was the case with the "informals" in Lvov (Western Ukraine), neither were riot gases used as in Minsk and Vilnius. Unlike Baku, there were no tanks in Moscow; and not a single Muscovite was killed in riots, which happened, for instance, in Yerevan's airport Zvartnois. However, there was no freedom of action, which was clearly felt by the people in Estonia and Lithuania by the end of the year. Moscow was the yardstick, as it were, of the advance towards democracy. The "informals" were allowed to hold their meetings and rallies and publish uncensored tabloids, whose circulation hardly exceeded 100 copies and the number of publications totalled 100 by the year's end. Still they were not granted permits to hold meetings or demonstrations. And even Memorial ceased to place its pickets. The only exception was Pamyat (Russian nationalist movement) was quite comfortable and even urged KGB to restore order.

By the end of 1988 just a few loyal organisations remained registered. Memorial failed to convene its constituent conference, while in the fall of the same year the authorities' favourable attitude to it gave way to sinister pressure. But with many people of high social prestige and celebrities joining Memorial, the association withheld. In January 1989 it succeeded in publishing the first, and so far the only, issue of its bulletin and convened the constituent conferences of its Moscow and all-Union societies. However, the authorities refused to register Memorial or give it any premises. True, the society has a bank account of its own. So Memorial proved to be the major success of the public movement on the eve of the new stage that began parallel to the 1989 election campaign.

[1] In Estonia, for one, these hopes have largely come true: a Tallinn Centre of Youth Initiatives was set up, which satisfied most of the Russian speaking youth's requirements.

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