In August 1998, the Russian stock market collapsed, provoking a dramatic crash of the banking system and triggering an intensification of Russia's economic crisis, as well as upheaval in the executive branch, where Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko was fired in a tense political atmosphere. 1 Yet, during the year preceding the financial and institutional crisis of summer 1998, a significant number of Russian scholars and representatives of the elite had expressed faith in their country's economic stability. To be sure, elites in Moscow supplied far more positive pronouncements than those living in Russia's provincial cities. And elites in financial institutions expressed more confidence in their future than did the directors of industrial plants. But, even in the apparently wealthy capital of the Russian Federation, which had drained most of the country's financial resources, elite sentiments contradicted each other. It was easy to find politicians and industrial managers who were confident that the financial market was now boosting the rest of Russia's troubled economy. But it was equally easy to locate other politicians and industrial managers who claimed just the opposite and predicted an impending financial crash and a deep political-institutional crisis. What was most striking was that elites' opinions did not seem to correlate with either their political party affiliation or with the industrial sectors in which they worked. 2