On July 20, 1991, Russia’s first President, Boris Yeltsin, issued a decree about the “de-party-ization” of all governmental institutions on the territory of the Russian Republic. The decree took effect a month before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This decree terminated Communist party domination of the organizations, leaving no connection to government or politics. The measure had a very negative response from many Party officials. Though the then-President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, was expected to veto the decision, his reaction was surprisingly mild.
At the session of the Communist Party Central Committee that followed, the decision was disliked but accepted with unusual impartiality, “without squeaky speeches and excessive drama”, as Party Secretary Pyotr Luchinsky put it.
However, in the following years, occasional attempts were made to preserve the Communist party representation in the structures, a fact which called for Yeltsin issuing a second, similar document in 1993, as an addendum to the first one.
Basically, the President’s decree was a response to two Communist Congresses, which attempted to bring the Communist Party of the Soviet Union back to life; the deputes also demanded the resumption of property disposed of by the Communist Party. The communists also did their best to trying and revive the Communist Party Units (partcoms) at plants and factories. These actions contradicted the Constitution, and had to be terminated.
The new decree assured the inadmissibility of communist domination of the social and industrial spheres, and a program of returning the assets to the Communist Party.
The total domination by the Communist Party of all spheres of the Soviet people’s lives was a common occurrence. Every industrial or educational institution had a partcom, in which all the problems were “solved”. Sometimes, a telling-off from the head of a partcom could do more damage to an employee or student than their mediocre performance at work or in class.
Partcoms used to screen every person’s private life, and it was common for wives whose husbands cheated on them or had a drinking problem to seek help from the partcom, after which the entire plant or faculty would engage in their family affairs. The partcoms could also criticize and penalize for absence of diligence at work or improper looks. Therefore, partcoms were obviously a good leverage that the Party used over people and one it was reluctant to lose.
Universities and other educational establishments were confronted with a similar problem. In order to secure themselves a safe professional future and a decent career, students had first to stay clean in the eyes of the partcom authorities, and remain devoted Communists. In the majority of cases, the so-called “politically-reliable” individuals were a lot luckier when it came to getting a job or other perks.