The decade and a half since Gorbachev came to power has been a tumultuous time for Russia. It has seen the expectations raised by perestroika dashed, the collapse of the Soviet superpower, and the emergence of a new Russian state claiming to base itself on democratic, market principles. It hasseen a political system shattered by a president turning tanks against the parliament, and then that president configuring the new political structure to give himself overwhelming power. These upheavals took place against a backdrop of social dislocations as the Russian people were ravaged by theeffects of economic shock therapy. This book explains how these momentous changes came about, and in particular why political elites were able to fashion the new political system largely independent of the wishes of the populace at large. It was this relationship between powerful elites and weak civil society forces which has led toRussian democracy under Yeltsin being still born.