Russia is marking the 20th anniversary of a pivotal moment in the history of the former Soviet Union

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Mikhail Gorbachev introduced many changes with his perestroika policy when he became Soviet leader in 1985 and one of the most important went under the banner of "democratisation".

This began in earnest in January 1987, but there was still no discussion of transition to a Western-style democracy.

The authorities considered that the USSR had no problems with its version of democracy, it just needed to be "widened and deepened", to use Mikhail Gorbachev's favourite expression.

Soviet society came to understand that a professional parliament should do some of the work previously fulfilled by the unelected Communist Party apparatus.

A new body, the Congress of People's Deputies, was proposed - the result of a compromise between reformists and orthodox Communists.

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