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The immediate afterglow of the failed coup attempt in August 1991 must rank as one of the more optimistic periods in Russian history. In August 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was the most popular figure in Russia. Yeltsin's priority was not the creation or consolidation of a new democratic political system. Rather, Yeltsin turned his attention to dismantling the command economy and creating a market economy. Yeltsin's greatest achievement as president was the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation and their allies, the Agrarian Party of Russia, won less than 20 per cent of the vote, while new 'centrist' groups combined for nearly a quarter of the vote. In early August, a multi-ethnic force headed by Chechen commander Shamil Basaev invaded the Russian republic of Dagestan, claiming Dagestan's liberation from Russian imperialism as their cause. Russian armed forces responded by launching a major counter-offensive against the Chechen-led 'liberation' movement.
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