A Voice of Conscience in Moscow

Amidst the news that Vladimir Putin fired his premier today, leading to increased doubts about who he will crown his successor, I stumbled upon this profile of Tatyana Zaslavskaya, the Russian sociologist responsible for coining the terms perestroika (reconstruction) and glasnost (opening), the ideological cornerstones of Mikhail Gorbachev‘s reform program for the USSR between 1985 and 1989. Zaslavskaya’s research into the Soviet Union’s struggling agricultural sector led her to posit that the Soviet government’s economic planning had hamstrung development and led to massive poverty. The solution, she suggested, was political, social, and economic liberalization.

Though she didn’t consider herself an anti-Communist radical, Zaslavskaya endured censorship and persecution from the Communist regime until Gorbachev came to power. At age 80, she brashly told an interviewer in July, "Russia is not a kingdom. We do not need any crown princes or successors who can win power only with the blessing of their predecessor."

How interesting that an academic — and a woman at that — was the brains behind such an important shift in world history. Yet outside of Russia, Zaslavskaya’s name is virtually unknown.

cross-posted at TAPPED

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