You have decided to concentrate on the USSR of the late 1980's,the Gorbachev years.
There is no doubt that Gorbachev brought in liberal reforms and he is rightly recognised for this but these reforms only seem impressive when compared
with what preceded it.If these reforms are compared to every industrialised democracy of the same time they still fall well short of the rights and
freedoms that are generally expected.
Russians never had it so good but then they could hardly of had it worse.
On the economy don't take my word for it.I've quoted generously from a site below.
"Gorbachev's new system bore the characteristics of neither central planning nor a market economy. Instead, the Soviet economy went from stagnation
to deterioration. At the end of 1991, when the union officially dissolved, the national economy was in a virtual tailspin. In 1991 the Soviet GDP had
declined 17 percent and was declining at an accelerating rate. Overt inflation was becoming a major problem. Between 1990 and 1991, retail prices in
the Soviet Union increased 140 percent."
"Under these conditions, the general quality of life for Soviet consumers deteriorated. Consumers traditionally faced shortages of durable goods, but
under Gorbachev, food, wearing apparel, and other basic necessities were in short supply. Fueled by the liberalized atmosphere of Gorbachev's
glasnost (literally, public voicing--see Glossary) and by the general improvement in information access in the late 1980s, public dissatisfaction with
economic conditions was much more overt than ever before in the Soviet period. The foreign-trade sector of the Soviet economy also showed signs of
deterioration. The total Soviet hard-currency (see Glossary) debt increased appreciably, and the Soviet Union, which had established an impeccable
record for debt repayment in earlier decades, had accumulated sizable arrearages by 1990."
"In sum, the Soviet Union left a legacy of economic inefficiency and deterioration to the fifteen constituent republics after its breakup in December
1991. Arguably, the shortcomings of the Gorbachev reforms had contributed to the economic decline and eventual destruction of the Soviet Union,
leaving Russia and the other successor states to pick up the pieces and to try to mold modern, market-driven economies. At the same time, the
Gorbachev programs did start Russia on the precarious road to full-scale economic reform. Perestroika broke Soviet taboos against private ownership of
some types of business, foreign investment in the Soviet Union, foreign trade, and decentralized economic decision making, all of which made it
virtually impossible for later policy makers to turn back the clock."
So reforms were being made yet the economy was in a "tailspin".The Russian Empire was shrinking visibly and with it regional influence.
The Cold War was being conceded.It had effectively been lost.These were the dying days of the Soviet Union and financial mismanagement would dog the
new Russia that would follow after.
Is this a good example of a strong Dictatorship?
If it is then Democracy need never fear.
I look forward to reading you closing statement Russian.