Rule as Supreme Leader
From the late sixties onwards, the SNOR became more and more populated with people who completely disregarded the party's original ideas and only publicly used them as a façade to hide their blind pursuit for their own personal interests. Corruption grew to inconceivable proportions. The government was guided mostly by opportunism and used its own ideology merely as a legitimation of its actions; it didn't care too much about the disastrous state of the economy, lost any feeling with the people, and didn't even notice the growing popular discontent. This situation reached its peak under Lipov's successor, Marshall Pyotr Popovich.
By the time Popovich took over, in 1971, the SNOR consisted of several factions. These should not be understood as groups or blocs within the party, but rather as ideological currents. They did not exist officially, and especially not publicly; it was mostly a matter of certain people disagreeing with certain other people, and certain third people being more inclined towards either the former or the latter. In Russia itself such differences were usually swept under the carpet, and recognising them was mostly the business of Kremlin watchers in the West. Factionalism within the SNOR had existed since the late 1920s, although it had been suppressed under Vissarionov and Vlasov, and was allowed to resurface only under Lipov. The most important of these factions were the military faction and the religious faction. The former represented everything the generals had always stood for: power, law and order, nationalism, military virtues, industrialisation, progress, etc. The religious faction, on the other hand, favoured a return to more traditional values, especially the religious ones, and envisioned the total merger of church and state. Although Russian Orthodoxy was a major factor in snorist ideology from the beginning, and the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church qualitate qua had been a member of the White Council since 1934 (as a "spiritual and moral adviser"), the influence of the Orthodox faction had always been limited. That was about to change.
Marshall Popovich belonged to the military wing of the SNOR, but in spite of that, he was primarily the representative of the regional establishment - faceless people, who feared Lipov's reforms might jeopardise their own comfortable positions. Under his rule, these reforms were put to an end and partially reverted. The non-Russian populations were allowed to keep their territorial units, but simultaneously they were persecuted more intensively. Political opponents of the regime, including some former coryphees of the Lipov administration, were rarely killed, but locked up in prisons, Siberian labour camps, and psychiatric hospitals instead. The economical situation in the country did not improve at all: Popovich built up huge foreign debts by loaning vast sums of money abroad. In addition, he tried to fight the problems by printing more money, thus causing an inflation so huge that even artificially protecting the value of the ruble could not save it from falling. Corruption flourished, and Popovich himself, instead of being a true leader, was rather on top of an elaborate clientele system. By the time he died of a food poisoning in 1976, the SNOR, and especially the generals, had lost their last moral authority. Parade on the White Square Imperial Honour Guard parading on Moscow's White Square
And so, when Popovich died, power was temporarily assumed by the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Dmitri Ivanovich Razin, in his capacity of eldest member of the White Council.
Supreme Leader of the Russian People