Letter: Western support for Yeltsin dictatorship

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Sir: Western leaders have been explaining their support for Boris Yeltsin's bloody coup against the Russian parliament by suggesting that this demonstrates his commitment to the democratic process. This absurd explanation should not be taken seriously. The real reason for Western backing of Yeltsin is much less palatable: he is supported precisely because he is anti-democratic.

The democratic process in Russia was exemplified by the Russian parliament, with its representation of conflicting political perspectives and interests, and with its subsequent debates and compromises.

This process obstructed single- minded reforms directed at the creation of a market economy. By staging his coup, Yeltsin has assumed dictatorial powers that will allow him to impose efficient, coherent and ruthless economic reforms. This is why he is supported in the West.

This does not mean that Bill Clinton and John Major are anti- democrats. Support for Yeltsin can be reconciled with support for democracy by predicting that his dictatorship will be a transitional stage, one that is necessary only until further market reforms are imposed and their disastrous short-term consequences are superseded by long-term benefits.

I hope that these predictions prove to be correct, but I think that they are far too uncertain to justify supporting the imposition of a dictatorship.

Yours faithfully,


School of Social and

International Studies

University of Sunderland


5 October