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Workshop "The tomb of the Soviet Union, or the womb of putinism? The 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, 30 years after"

21.09.2023 | 09:30 - 19:00
Workshop Russian Constitution 1993

Workshop Russian Constitution 1993

In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, Russia faced significant challenges in establishing functioning state institutions amidst social and economic upheaval. This tumultuous period saw the emergence of two centers of power, leading to a violent clash between President Boris Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet from late September to early October 1993.

The dramatic events of this crisis, particularly the iconic images of a parliament building shelled by its own army, are often cited as a pivotal moment in the evolution of the modern Russian state. Many scholars and observers argue that Yeltsin exceeded his presidential powers during this time. His forceful repression of the parliamentary opposition, coupled with the adoption of a new presidentialist constitution, is believed to have hindered the development of Russian democracy, laying the groundwork for the authoritarian state capitalism that characterized his chosen successor, Vladimir Putin.

Conversely, Russian liberals have defended Yeltsin's actions, contending that they prevented a potential civil war and a complete power takeover by former Soviet elites, which could have had unpredictable economic and geopolitical repercussions.

Our Workshop:

To mark the 30th anniversary of the constitutional crisis, we are organizing a workshop in Berlin that will bring together historians, political scientists, constitutional lawyers, and eyewitnesses. This event will provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of research on this pivotal moment in modern Russian history, which holds essential insights for understanding contemporary Kremlin politics.

Programme - PDF

  • 09:30 am - Keynote speech
    Escape from Political Freedom. The 1993 Conflict and Russia’s Political Trajectory

  • 11:00 am - Session 1: Constitutions
    The Dangers of Rights Constitutionalism for Democratic Politics
    Constitutional Change under Autocracy from a Comparative Perspective

  • 2:30 pm - Session 2: Contemporaries
    Constitutionalism versus Special Orders of Government. The Road to Constitutional Normality
    Liberals Against Parliament. The Russian Intelligentsia and the Struggle for a New Constitution

    4:00 pm - Session 3: Crisis
    An Authoritative Accessory. The IMF’s Role in the Crisis
    Implementing the New Central Bank Law in Russia. Legal and Economic Challenges following the Adoption of the Constitution in 1993

  • 5:00 pm - Session 4: Consequences
    Post-Soviet Conservatism and Democracy. Belarusian Views of the Russian Constitutional Crisis
    From 'Living' Constitutionalism to 'Zombie Apocalypse'. Valery Zorkin and his Role for Russian Authoritarian Constitutionalism

Key Details:

  • Location: FU Berlin, SCRIPTS Villa, Dahlem Dorf, Edwin-Redslob-Str. 29, 14195 Berlin
  • Organizer: Dr. Tobias Rupprecht, Head of the Junior Research Group 'Peripheral Liberalism'


Whether you prefer to attend in person or online, we invite you to register for this workshop. Please contact George Payne at g.payne@fu-berlin.de to secure your spot.

Join us as we delve into the complexities of the 1993 constitutional crisis, unravel its significance, and gain fresh perspectives on the dynamics that continue to shape modern Russia.

Weitere Informationen

SCRIPTS Villa, Dahlem Dorf, Edwin-Redslob-Str. 29, 14195 Berlin