Девяностые: учреждение политии
In the 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, was established the Russian polity, which continues to exist to this day. In this paper polity is understood as a macro-social community, united by a certain political order i.e., by a stable set of institutions and actors, as well as normative standards for organizing their interactions, both formal and informal. Establishment is understood as a series of events that establish these most fundamental frameworks for political action, as well as a repertoire of its scenarios, behavioral stereotypes, strategies, and tactics.
The negative myth about the nineties, which has dominated the Russian public discourse in the recent years, describes the 1990s as a time of catastrophe and degradation. It certainly has its reasons, but this myth almost completely ignores the fact that the same decade was also a time of creation. Thus, the current state of Russia cannot be understood without paying attention to the circumstances of its establishment.
The article describes some of the key features of the modern Russian polity that emerged in the 1990s — the “main takeaway” of the constituent era. They are the following: the electoral legitimacy of the supreme political power; non-partisan presidency; capitalism as the economic foundation of the political order; federalism as a principle of territorial organization of political space; freedom of association; freedom of religion; open borders. This list is not exhaustive: there are other elements of the design of the Russian polity that can claim the status of constitutive ones. However, a radical change in all these institutions together or in any one of them individually would mean another re-establishment of the political community as a whole.