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Polymorphous Presidential Power under Authoritarianism: On the Institutionalisation of Russia’s Presidential Administration

This article attempts to open up the black box of the Russian Presidential Administration (‘the Kremlin’). Borrowing from literature on ‘institutional presidencies’ and institutional approaches to authoritarianism, I argue that the administration institutionalised over the years. More stable and predictable procedures enhanced administrative presidential powers, but personalism and non-compliance with presidential orders remained. Original data on budget, staff, units, organisational structure, and presidential assignments demonstrates that presidential power should be conceptualised as a polymorphous phenomenon that varies depending on the level of analysis. Researchers should aim to depersonalise their analyses and focus on ‘institutional presidencies’ and ‘centres of government’ instead.