The early 1990s saw the formation of a new group of Russian property owners, often derivative of the late Soviet nomenklatura . The richest and most influential were known as oligarchs, and they established a dominant position in the later years of the Yeltsin presidency. Only 15% of the 1993 business elite still retained their position by 2001, after the 1998 devaluation of the currency. Those who took their place were younger, less metropolitan, better educated and more likely to have a background in government, including many who had enjoyed ministerial status. The new business elite is less personally ambitious, but its political influence is no less considerable and its representation in decision-making bodies has more than doubled over the post-communist period. The logic of development is towards a concentration of economic power in the hands of 20e25 large conglomerates in a politically subordinate association with government, along South Korean lines.
A survey carried out in 12 urban areas in December, 1992, suggests that parties are widely believed to be playing a role of little significance in Russian politics, and that there is little interest in their activities. Of those that did express a view, communist supporters were likely to be older, poorer, less well educated, and more working class than the supporters of other parties; Yeltsin supporters, by contrast, were richer, better educated, and younger, with supporters of the remaining parties less clearly differentiated. Communists, equally, were more hostile to the market and to political democracy, and more likely than others to deplore the loss of Russia's great power status, with Yeltsin supporters again least likely to do so. The outcome is a “party system without parties,” with an electorate divided socially and attitudinally but those differences not reflected in a stable pattern of attachments to the political parties that have so far been established.