Russia held its first multiparty election in over 75 years in the hope that it would usher in a new democratic political order. However, the success of right-wing populist Vladimir Zhirivsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and other anti-reform forces shocked the world. This study analyzes the background, events and main players of the elections, and examines their significance for the Russian political system. Describing in detail the December 1993 voting, it provides historical, political, regional and sociocultural interpretations of the elections and their results. The work attempts to answer such questions as: what were the keys to Zhirivsky's success?; who are the new players on Russia's political scene?; what role will the new institutions play in Russian politics; and who actually holds power in Russia?