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Policy And Politics International Perspective Paper, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University, Spring 2006:
The Soviet economy and society declined in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an effort to renovate Communism, but his initiatives unintentionally released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into Russia and 14 other independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to construct a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the Communist period. While some progress has been made on the economic front, recent years have seen a recentralization of power under Vladimir PUTIN and the erosion of emerging democratic institutions.