The collapse of the communist regime of the Soviet Union in 1991 created an unusual political situation, in which it was often difficult to apply traditional terms of “left” and “right.” “Leftists” often sought to inhibit or prevent change, since the left had been the establishment in the previous system. Traditional leftist and rightist stances were sometimes fused, as in various “left-patriotic” or “national Bolshevik” organizations.

At the end of the Soviet era, people were unaccustomed to discussing alternative policies or institutions, even among acquaintances, and had little understanding of each other's preferences or even of what innovations they themselves would eventually advocate, tolerate, or seek to stifle. The earliest political organizations were therefore large, amorphous, and subject to internecine fighting. Political platforms were incoherent if ...

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