УДК 94(470.345):070.1



Periodical Press and Power of Mordovia in the First Years of Perestroika

Katorov A. V.



Introduction. The events that took place in the USSR in the mid-1980s are of undoubted interest to historians from the point of view of their significance in subsequent transformations that led to the collapse of the country and the temporary loss of sovereignty. Understanding this negative experience is very relevant today, when the collective West seeks to destroy the entire Russian civilization and destroy the state and territorial integrity of Russia. Taking into account the patterns in the relationship between the authorities and the print media (as an important link between the authorities and society) in Mordovia and in the country as a whole will contribute to more thoughtful management of the economy and socio-cultural processes, and the preservation of political stability.

Materials and methods. The material for the study is provided by the records of the Central State Archives of the Republic of Mordovia, related to the work of the government agencies and newspaper editorial boards. The chronological framework covers 1985 — 1986s — the initial stage of perestroika, characterized by the striking manifestation of contradictions between the authorities and society. The main methods of research are chronological and problematic, comparative and systematic, based on the principles of scholarship and historicism.

Results and discussion. Gorbachev's rise to power in 1985 was marked by the April plenum of the CPSU Central Committee proclaiming a course aimed at transforming the socio-political and economic life of the country. Changes were indeed needed, since the country was short of provisions and manufactured goods, and reports on the fulfilment of plans were far from reality and contained large amounts of embezzlement. For this reason, the calls to the communists to more actively introduce the results of scientific and technological progress into production, increase labor productivity, strengthen the discipline, change the methods of management and planning, use “the policy of openness” in the work of party and state institutions received a positive response and gave hope for improvement of life. However, as subsequent experience has shown, the proclamations alone were not enough. Newspaper publi­cations criticizing negative social phenomena tended to appear in central newspapers, but were rare in the regions. Our study of archival materials related to the activities of official structures and the print media in Mordovia has convinced us that the newspapers did not undergo a turning point in their activities in 1985 — 1986 and that their relationship with the authorities did not change. The newspapers, as in the past, were fully financed by the state and remained the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, consequently they had no real freedom to report on events. In addition, they did not always follow the recommendations for restructuring journalism that came from the center. Another contributing factor was the reluctance of local authorities to point out their failings and admit their mistakes. 

Conclusion. Archive analysis shows that while in the first two years of perestroika in Mordovia new initiatives emanating from the center were discussed and verbally welcomed, they were not implemented due to the negative traditions of regional administration that were deeply rooted in the region. The relationship between government and society in the republic was complex and the periodical press covered problematic issues rarely, poorly and fearfully.

Keywords: power, power structures, print media, government-media relations, newspaper publications, newspaper editorial boards, perestroika

For citation: Katorov AV. Periodical Press and Power of Mordovia in the First Years of Perestroika. Bulletin of the Research Institute of the Humanities by the Government of the Republic of Mordovia. 2023;15(3):140—150. EDN SIRZJI




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The article was submitted 24.05.2023; approved after reviewing 23.06.2023; accepted for publication 30.06.2023.


Information about the author:

Alexander V. Katorov, Postgraduate Student of History Department of the Research Institute of the Humanities by the Government of the Republic of Mordovia (3 L. Tolstogo Str., Saransk 430005, Russia), alex-katorov@mail.ru


Conflict of interests: the author declares no conflict of interests.


The author has read and approved the final version of the manuscript.