A Democracy of Despots is a history of Soviet and Russian experiments with democratic institutions from 1988 to 1995. Based on eye-witness accounts and in-depth interviews with most of the political leaders in this drama, it tells the story of the men and women who began an experiment in euphoria only to find themselves at war with one another five years later. Arguing that Gorbachev and Yeltsin used the democratic institutions they created to crush political opponents and increase their own personal power, Murray concludes that the rise of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the war in Chechnya are not aberrations on Russia's road to democracy but the logical extension and consequence of Gorbachev's and Yeltsin's despotism.
"A gripping blow-by-blow account of the power struggle in the last days of the Soviet Union and the newly emerged 'democratic' Russia. A Democracy of Despots provides a fascinating view of one of the major political events of our epoch." Mihailo Crnobrnja, McGill University, former ambassador of Yugoslavia to the European Community.