Discourse analysis reveals that Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary and his successors as Russian presidents have practiced a shared strategy of metaphorical – not spatial – centrism that has gradually slid the state from dictatorship toward democracy. Preservation of a political center for himself and his successors to occupy made it necessary for Boris Yeltsin to dismantle the USSR if elections in Russia were to continue. At the same time, for each successive exponent of this centrist strategy, an attempt to practice democracy without the repellent flaws of electoral fraud and political repression would forgo the strategic advantage of occupying the political center.

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