Russia re-emerged as an independent state in 1991, and in the course of nearly three decades it has been engaged in a monumental act of nation and state building. It was never going to be easy to create a capitalist democracy from scratch, but in the event the process has been dramatic and contradictory. Everything had to be created anew, including the party and parliamentary systems, legally defensible property rights, a new class of entrepreneurs, and above all the constitutional framework and the rule of law. The adoption of the constitution proved protracted and divisive, accompanied by a violent conflict between the last Soviet parliament (the Congress of People’s Deputies) and president Boris Yeltsin in October 1993. The constitution adopted in December 1993 still bears the scars of this conflict. Having defeated the parliamentary forces, Yeltsin introduced strengthened powers for the executive presidency that remain to this day. In addition, Russia needed to find a new place in the international system, one that corresponded to its own vision of itself as a great power but also took into account the concerns of its new neighbours, the 14 former Soviet republics that were now independent states.
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