On October 3, 1993, the feud between the Parliament and the President of Russia in Moscow turned into an armed clash. President Boris Yeltsin imposed a state of emergency. To fight the opposition, tanks entered the capital and the shelling of the White House began the following day.
During the year 1993 a conflict grew between the legislative and executive powers of Russia. At the heart of this unfolding rivalry lay the inconsistency in approach towards the development of the Constitution, and the parliament's unhappiness with the economic reforms that were being implemented by Boris Yeltsin.
At the Eighth National Congress of Deputies in March 1993, the communist-dominated legislature attempted to limit the power of the president and pass a series of amendments to the constitution.
In response, Yeltsin addressed the nation declaring he had signed a decree on the “Special Regime of Government” which announced the holding of a referendum on April 25, 1993, in which the public would vote on the trustworthiness of the president as well as on a new constitution and on the laws regarding elections into the Federal parliament.
Until that date the work of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation was suspended and Yeltsin assumed executive power pending the results.
The Constitutional Court ruled Yeltsin's actions as unconstitutional. A spontaneous session of the Supreme Soviet classified Yeltsin's decree as an attempt at a coup, and according to the Constitution Yeltsin was to be stripped of his powers.
However, the March conflict ended in compromise: the president abandoned the decree, and the deputies accepted that the referendum go ahead.
On April 25 a majority of voters expressed confidence in the president, and Yeltsin began developing a plan for a new constitution. The idea behind the new constitution was the concept of a presidential republic.
The clash between the president and the legislative power reached a new peak in autumn of 1993.
On September 21, Yeltsin appeared on television with an address to his nation declaring that the Supreme Soviet has been disbanded. He signed a decree on “The phased reform of the Constitution of the Russian Federation” which dismissed the representative organs of authority and set a date of 11-12 December for elections into the State Duma.
The best part of the deputies declared his actions illegal and announced that Yeltsin was no longer president. Many of the deputies refused to leave the parliament building and appointed Aleksandr Rutskoy as the president’s automatic successor.
Armed groups supportive of the Supreme Soviet then took up positions in defense of the parliament's headquarters at the Moscow White House, and on October 3 attempted to seize control of the Ostankino broadcasting center in order to take control of Russian radio and television.
In response, Yeltsin called in the security forces and the army, and ordered an attack on the White House. Ultimately the parliament surrendered and many of those who had risen against Yeltsin were arrested.
The outbreak of violence on October 3, 1993, left almost 140 people dead. For Muscovites it was a horrifying day, as Russia stood on the brink of a civil war.
Yeltsin assumed total power as presidential ruler, down to holding the elections of the Federal Assembly and a referendum on Russia's Constitution. Elections for the State Duma were held on December 12, 1993. At the same time a referendum on the new Constitution took place, in which Russia was declared a democratic, federal state with a republican government.