This was just one side of the story. While state control in the economic realm was weakened, the story was different in the political and social spheres. While there was more intellectual freedom in China after Mao Zedong, the state jealously preserved its power and, if needed, ruthlessly suppressed dissent. Post-Mao, China emerged as more hierarchical and suppressive. During Mao’s rule, there had been no public executions, which were frequent during the first years of Deng’s rule. So in China, two apparently opposite trends emerged seem to be opposite trends which emerged – limited economic freedom but with a strengthened state. The result was great economic success.
Gorbachev’s approach was very different. He weakened both the state and its control over the economy. Disaster soon followed. In 1991, the economy plunged, ethnic strife ensued, and the government failed. It was not just the USSR that collapsed but also the Russian state as it had existed for centuries. Yeltsin, the leader of the Russian Federation, the biggest part of the Soviet Union, followed Gorbachev’s approach. The state became practically dysfunctional, and Russia appeared to be on the same self-destructive path as the USSR.
The majority of Russians lived in absolute misery, while a few business magnates “privatized” national wealth. All types of crime and immorality spread. In addition, Moscow was engaged in a protracted war with separatist Chechnya. At that point, a considerable segment of the Russian population started to look at the Soviet era with nostalgia. Yeltsin and people close to him, including tycoons, of course, did not want a return to a Soviet-style regime, which would have entailed nationalization of their ill-gotten wealth. They also feared for their personal safety. Consequently, they planned a pseudo-restoration.