«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»

Desovietization of state power

Desovietization of state power
The system of social management that was in place at the beginning of the 1990s in the USSR was a unique negative example of party leadership

This system, covered up with false slogans about democracy, a new form of state government in the form of Soviet power, the right of nations to state self-determination, and the broad rights and freedoms of citizens, moved in the direction directly opposite to these calls. Over time, as public consciousness became aware of their declarative nature, slogans began to lose political and emotional appeal. Represented in the mass consciousness of the idea of ​​the Communist Party as the "core of the political system of society" and its activities in the management of society gave an opposite effect to the expected. Therefore, we must assume that the phrase "the party brought the country to the crisis" contains more truth than the pathos saying: "the party is the inspirer and organizer of all our victories." Apparently, these victories were not, for the sum of victories should not lead to a deep defeat.

In these historical conditions, the proclamation of sovereignty put on the agenda the issue of particular political relevance about the structure and form of the new state power instead of the obsolete totalitarian and administrative-command management. The Soviet Republic, opened by Lenin, could not stand the test of time because of incorrect theoretical bases, could not stand on a par with such historically developed and successfully functioning forms of a democratic republic as the presidential and parliamentary ones. Originally supposed to be the essence of the Soviet Republic - the fullness of the power of the working people was perverted by the party that usurped this power.

In these specific historical conditions of the late 80's and early 90's of the last century, the task was to create a structure of state power in a new configuration. To solve this task, it was necessary, in an urgent order, to eliminate, firstly, the Party's total dominance over all spheres of social, including state, life. And secondly, to carry out desovietization, that is, the elimination of the principles, forms, methods and organizational structures of Soviet management bodies. The system of councils, with its principle of vertical subordination to the higher council, and according to the unspoken but rigid principle of subordination to the respective levels of the party committees, placed them in double subordination, and the executive committees with this organization were in triple subordination: to the council elected to it, to a higher-level executive committee of the corresponding level and to the party committee. Such bureaucratization of power generated red tape and formalism in resolving issues, the lack of initiative and slowness of the state apparatus. This created an operational space for actual party leadership economic, socio-cultural issues using the organs of Soviet power. It was this circumstance that was one of the reasons for the collapse of the USSR, so the question of a new form of government of the state was ripe, though not always and not all, adequately perceived.

The logic of the events taking place on the territory of the Union of Political and Economic Crises clearly made it clear that their result in the near future would be the disintegration of the USSR and the emergence of independent states and the destruction of the socialist mode of production brought to the state of crisis by the party-state nomenclature due to the blatantly mismanagement of the economy. The leading role of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, stemming from its constitutional status of the "core of the political system" (Article 6 of the 1977 Constitution of the USSR) was completely discredited by the totalitarian activities of the same party.

Recognition of this fact, among other things, was recorded by the Law of the Kazakh SSR as of April 24, 1990, which amended the Constitution of the KazSSR as of 1978 regarding the equation of the rights of the Communist Party with trade unions, youth and other public organizations (Article 6). This led to the formation of an organizational and ideological vacuum in the power structure of Kazakhstan, as, indeed, of the USSR as a whole and of other union republics, in particular, overnight. The state mechanism, driven by the party's guidelines, which functions thanks to the huge army of officials selected by the party committees everywhere and realizing the functions of state administration by their command and under their total control, stood on the verge of complete demoralization and destructurization.

The public conscience, accustomed to personalizing the supreme power in the republic with the name of the first secretary of the Communist Party, believed that the republic owed successes or failures to the head of the Central Committee of the party. It corresponded to reality. In the conditions of the monopoly domination of the party, the state organs of the Soviet government receded into the background. The authority of the state was extremely low. Faith in the power of the party leader, on the contrary, is unusually high. The Supreme Council of the Republic was not perceived as a collegiate head of state, the bearer of its sovereign rights. By the way, any "cracy", as a political regime, first of all, encroaches on the sovereignty of the state and crushes it. This is characteristic of theocracy, autocracy, partocracy and ochlocracy. Only democracy is interested in a sovereign state.

The extinction of the political will of the CPSU and the persistence of the pessimistic attitude of the population to the representative and executive organs of the Soviet government with particular urgency raised the question of who will now represent Kazakhstan in its relations with the central (all-union) authorities. This question had a special sound especially in those historical conditions, when numerous negotiations were to be held about the fate of the country. Everyone understood this, from a simple worker to an academician. At this stage of understanding the need to adequately represent the interests of the country, the question was posed: "Which body or which official should act as such representative?" The question of a particular person was not the main thing, but the derivative. The Supreme Soviet, as a collegial head of state, was not fit for this purpose because of the peculiarities of collegial decision-making. Sessional work order, a multi-stage procedure for discussion of the issue at first in working groups, standing commissions, the Presidium and then in sessions of the entire deputy corps made it impossible to make quick decisions in rapidly changing political situations. I must say that by the end of the eighties by the beginning of the nineties, these situations were changing dramatically, almost every day.

Under these conditions, the intellectual elite and political forces of the society, the people of Kazakhstan as a whole, came to the understanding that an individual political leader is needed who, due to his high and independent official status, could represent Kazakhstan with dignity during the current political crisis in the territory of the USSR and be responsible for the restoration of sovereignty and due independence of the republic.

Such a unanimous mood in the public consciousness was the decisive factor in the establishment of the post of President, to the legalization of which was dedicated the signed by the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Kazakh SSR N.A. Nazarbayev Law "On the establishment of the post of President of the Kazakh SSR and the introduction of amendments and additions to the Constitution (Basic Law) of the Kazakh SSR" as of April 24, 1990. It is noteworthy that with this Law, along with the establishment of the post of President, the Communist Party monopoly on state power was eliminated.

The establishment of the post of the President did not fit into the system of organization of power in the Soviet Republic, in which, according to the theory and the Constitution of that time, the head of state is the Supreme Soviet, with a step-by-step system of Soviets vertically subordinated to the aul, with their executive, administrative and controlling bodies. This was the first, although difficult step in the direction of desovietization of state power.

Due to the shortage of time, the first President was elected by the deputies of the Supreme Council as soon as possible, on the day the Law on the Establishment of the President was adopted, since the organization of a nationwide election required a number of organizational measures (adoption of a special law on elections, election campaigns, election commissions and sites and much more). N.A. Nazarbayev became the president. Subsequently, on December 1, 1990, he was elected to this post by popular vote.

Thus, the President with established constitutional powers was put forward for the forefront of the unfolding struggle for the sovereignty of the Republic and the state independence of Kazakhstan. At the same time, the President did not have directly exercised managerial powers, the executive and administrative bodies were not subordinate to him, and the Soviets exercised control over them. The president was included in the system of power not as a leading link, but as an institution for prompt resolution of the contradictions between the republic and the allied center. This was a post, a kind of crisis manager in the sphere of political relations. As the twenty-five-year history of independent Kazakhstan showed, the First President coped brilliantly with the tasks of the crisis manager, despite the limited powers, by today's standards.

The time of the political and economic crisis persistently dictated the need to strengthen the power of the President, but the inertia of public consciousness prevented the comprehension of the immediate prospects. The ideological apparatus, as the party possessed, did not exist in modern times. All the work to explain and expound the events and their prospects lay on the President and his closest intellectual environment. It was small, and in terms of personnel - young, the country - little-known. Therefore N.A. Nazarbayev had to bear the whole burden of responsibility, acting in the conditions of the Soviet system of power, which had not yet disappeared, in which the former party nomenclature, trying to preserve the Soviet system, but without the party leadership, set the tone. One can imagine what efforts the President had to insist on an amendment to the Constitution, according to which he was entitled to early release from office on the negative grounds the chairman of the regional, Alma-Ata City Council of People's Deputies (Article 77).

A tangible blow to the scrapping of the system of Soviet power was inflicted by the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan (initiated by the president) as of January 13, 1992 "On Suspending the Operation of Certain Norms of the Constitution (Basic Law) of the Kazakh SSR during the Transitional Period", which suspended the rights of the Soviets to create executive and administrative bodies, on the management on its territory of state, economic and socio-cultural construction.

Thus, the President's position, contrary to the idea, spirit and principles of the Soviet government and socialist economy, proved to be an effective political institution, thanks to which a smooth and the most not bloody transition was made from the degraded system of Soviet power, which lost its true guidelines under the total leadership of the Communist Party, to parliamentary, and then to the presidential republic.

The transition of statehood from pseudo-democratic Soviet power to a genuinely democratic state structure was complex and controversial due to the different orientation of sentiments in the public consciousness of Kazakhstan in the early nineties of the last century. The obvious negative experience of the monopoly party leadership of the country inclined one to the idea that the Soviet government, freed from totalitarianism, can effectively cope with the tasks of independent and self-sustained development of Kazakhstan. It was assumed that the economic development of the country is quite possible on the basis of socialist production relations in the absence of dictate of the Union, that is, the federal center.

Others believed that without a free labor market and capital and the corresponding system of power, Kazakhstan would repeat the sad fate of the administrative-command economy, which is not capable of providing proactive productive activity.

Some believed that the introduction of elements of a market economy is quite feasible in the conditions of socialist democracy, which existed for more than seventy years.

It is characteristic that, speaking to the deputies on the day of his election as the First President of Kazakhstan, N.A. Nazarbayev said: "Simultaneously, once and for all, it is necessary to put an end to the guardianship of the Soviets by party committees, to direct intervention of the latter in resolving specific state and economic issues."

The next initiative in this direction was announced by the president on August 24, 1991 when discussing the draft Law on Amendments and Additions to the Constitution. In particular, he noted that “the activity of the organizational structures of political parties and other public associations in law enforcement bodies is inadmissible.”

Such an initiative was a very sensitive blow to the dismantling of the system of Soviet power, since it, as an appendage of a powerful political force completely devoid of independence, could not function under the new conditions.

No less noticeable damage to the system of the Soviets was done by the Presidential Decree as of February 7, 1992, according to which executive bodies were separated from the Soviets of all levels and then included in an integrated, separate system of executive power.

Such were the first significant initiatives of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan to overcome the vicious practices that had developed in the USSR, when, according to A.A. Sobchak, "state bodies that legally must take appropriate decisions, as well as bear responsibility for them - in fact, for their acceptance and non-compliance can not answer, since decisions were not made by them. The party bodies, which in fact solve everything, do not legally answer for anything, because do not have the right to take appropriate decisions."

The self-dissolution in 1992-1994 and the early resignation of local and Supreme Councils, the recognition of the 13th Supreme Soviet as illegitimate, were evidence of the desovietization of state power.


Translated by Raushan MAKHMETZHANOVA