This article analyzes the political reasons for Russia's failure to define and implement a coherent regional policy during the 2000s. Combining Jonh Kingdon's "multiple framework" and empirical evidence from Russian regional policy, I conclude that the failure resulted from the inability and administratively and politically weak reformers to resist top officials who consider regional development a secondary priority and pressure groups that are interested in the maintaining the status quo.
The key question addressed in this study is, how centralized and consolidated is the Kremlin’s “party of power”, United Russia (UR)? In order to answer this question we provide a detailed analysis of the recruitment of the secretaries of UR’s 83 regional political councils and the patronage ties of the secretaries with their regional governors. A study of the recruitment of regional secretaries provides important insights into: a) the balance of federal and regional forces, and b) the balance of regional elite groups in the recruitment of local party leaders. By analysing these appointments we can detect which party branches have been captured by regional governors or other influential regional groups. The conclusions of our analysis throws new light on the degree of centralisation within United Russia and the consolidation of the party at the regional level. As we demonstrate, in a number of regions UR is politically fragmented and regional factions within the party have successfully checked the powers of governors and their ability to exercise control over the appointment of UR regional secretaries.
A growing body of literature suggests that the quality of public officials has an effect on policy outcomes. But scholars differ as to which of the two primary methods for selecting public officials—elections and appointments—are more likely to produce high quality officials. Using original data on the backgrounds of Russian mayors between 2000 and 2012, we examine how the biographies of elected and appointed mayors differ. Russia is a fruitful laboratory for such a study because elected and appointed mayors exist simultaneously in contemporary Russia. Among other things, we find that elected mayors are slightly better educated, more likely to come from business backgrounds, have more elected experience, turn over at a lower rate, and are less likely to have executive governing experience. Contrary to popular perceptions, very few mayors of either stripe have experience in the security services. Our findings highlight the potentially ambiguous connection between elections and the quality of public officials.
This article analyzes a paradoxical situation: sanctions have real negative effects on the Russian economy, but are not recognized by the population as a problem. The article analyzes the key strategies used to deproblematize the economic sanctions (and the Russian food embargo) that were used in four Russian newspapers from March 2014 to December 2014. Drawing on agenda-setting theory, we assume that the use of deproblematization strategies in the media discussion on economic sanctions proves to people that the effects of the sanctions are not severe. The second section discusses another puzzle: against the background of a large-scale economic and political crisis in Russia, Vladimir Putin’s support is increasing. We explain this outcome using the rally-around-the-flag effect. This effect reflects how and why a national leader’s approval rating substantially increases during tragedies and international conflicts. We argue that Russia’s media discussion can explain why the rally effect in Russia is substantially more stable than in other countries.
December 19, 2016, witnessed three tragedies that could not go unnoticed by the Russian media: dozens of people died as a result of a surrogate alcohol poisoning in Irkutsk, a Russian ambassador was killed in Turkey, and a terrorist attack took place at the Christmas market in Berlin. In this article, we use the network agenda-setting theory to analyze how these tragedies were covered by different types of mass media. We show that ties between the tragedy and a network of other acute issues are more important than objective circumstances, such as the number of victims or the geography of the event. The context in which the events were examined led to greater attention to the killing of the ambassador and less attention to the surrogate alcohol poisoning. We believe that the state can exercise indirect control over the agenda by creating a network of events that will correctly guide discussions about tragedies.
Informal practices in relations between the government and big business in Russia have been transformed during the post-Soviet period. Changes did not only occur at the turn of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin’s epochs. The long period of Putin’s rule was also not static. The article shows the transformation of informal relations between the government and big business upon changing the financial and administrative capabilities of the state. It compares the situation of the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
The oligarchic capitalism of the 1990s arose during drastic reforms when a weak state was forced to seek the help of financial capital in exchange for the assignment of political rights. The economy development in the 2000s, the budget surplus, and Vladimir Putin’s politics have changed the situation. During the so-called “fat” 2000s, “milking” the country’s budget and “arranging payoffs” for fulfilling government contracts were the main forms of informal cooperation between the government and business. However, the economic difficulties of the 2010s sharply aggravated competition for access to budget resources. Compromising and repression became the most effective tools of such a struggle. The “kings of government Contracts” began to play a key role in public-private partnership because they were assigned to implement projects, which were both profitable and unprofitable for business but always important for the government. Participation in such projects was a marker of loyalty to the President’s administration and a compulsory condition for any successful business activities to go on. Under the slogan of legalizing the economy and strengthening the fight against corruption, the administration created some new informal ways of managing and controlling big business.
This article is devoted to the comparison of two Armenian protest coalitions: the 2016 coalition of Sasna Tsrer supporters and Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step coalition of 2018. The analysis shows that Pashinyan’s coalition, unlike the coalition of Sasna Tsrer supporters, was not a liberal-nationalist alliance, but rather a liberal-bureaucratic one. This difference turns out to be crucial, as the Sasna Tsrer polemic was heavily polarized by the clash between the statist and counter-statist frames of the Armenian nation, with none of the sides possessing enough symbolic or political resources to win. The generally successful outcome of Pashinyan’s protest can thus be explained by the fact that it was not so strongly framed by a counter-statist understanding of the Armenian nation.
In the wake of the post-Soviet transition, there was significant academic interest in organized civil society and the liberal opposition in Russia. In more recent years, attention has turned to more everyday and episodic forms of local activism by citizens with little history of involvement in politics. But how can we conceptualize the way in which these activists engage with the state? In this paper, we draw on relational approaches to the state from anthropology and geography and case study research with citizens who oppose construction projects in south-west Moscow, identifying three different dimensions of engagement: first, residents probe the state to examine the avenues that are susceptible to their demands; second, they act as brokers, establishing links between civil society and the state; and third, residents at times resist redevelopment by directly contesting particular construction works. These forms of engagement show how citizens struggle against and seek to tap into different elements of state power as they preserve their neighborhoods from unwanted forms of development.
The article deals with lessons from the regional security processes in Eurasia since the collapse of the USSR
I have argued that specific conditions, departing points, and paths for transition (including the Russian democratic transition) can be considered as part of the current global democratic wave. Because of its multidimensional character and its ongoing evolution, post-communism can be conceptualized in various theoretical models. Among other things, we can find in postcommunism some of the elements identified with democratic transitions of the third wave. Given the specific features of postcommunism, there are nevertheless theoretical and practical reasons for considering the present sociopolitical dynamics in Russia as part of the context of democratic transition (which seldom leads to consolidated democracies) and for using the methodological and theoretical tools offered by transition theories to analyze it. Examining some peculiarities of the transformation processes in postcommunist Russia allows us to outline their specific nature and draw some parallels with democratic transition in other countries. Exposition of what is common and what is specific as a result of a comparative analysis of different case studies (including the case of postcommunist Russia) may eventually contribute to development of a general integrated theory of postcommunism. I do not see any insuperable contradiction between the structural and procedural approaches to the analysis of democratic transitions. A methodological synthesis of the approaches that focus on structural and procedural factors may be possible as a result of different research approaches, including comparative analysis of the conditions, context, and processes of democratic transitions. I also believe that the methodological model of the analysis of democratic transitions using the funnel of causality approach suggested above may be helpful in the analysis of concrete case studies and present a step toward systematization and consolidation of knowledge necessary for the development of a theory. During the early stages of democratic transitions, endogenous (procedural) factors of democracy and democratization-such as the choice of strategies and tactics by major political actors-are of crucial importance. However this choice is in many ways conditioned by structural factors-cultural and political traditions, socioeconomic and external context, and so forth. These deep structural factors of democratization and democracy start to play a more important role at the later stages of democratic transition, especially at the stage of democratic consolidation. In the final analysis, these structural factors may explain why many countries that start the democratic transition may not reach its final stages.
This research investigates media control in non-democratic regimes through the example of state information contracts, a leading form of state support for regional media outlets in todays Russia. Using statistics on such contracts signed in 42 Russian regions in the period from 2011 to 2014, together with qualitative interviews with local media professionals, the article explores the role of these contracts in the regional media sphere and scrutinizes how they became an effective and stable tool for disciplining journalists and instrumentalizing the media in Russian regions during the 2010s. The research explores the transition from direct to structural control, as well as discussing the contextual differences between state interventions in the form of subsidies in democratic regimes and state contracts in non-democratic regimes such as Russias.
This article provides an analysis of the political values of the Russian middle class. In contrast to those scholars who have viewed the middle classes as bastions of liberal democracy, we demonstrate that most members support the regime, and favor statist over liberal values. However, the study also demonstrates that the middle class is not a homogeneous and cohesive body. A crucial divide here is between those members who depend on the state for their livelihood and those who work in the private sectors of the economy, and there are also important generational differences. The study also compares the values of the middle class with those of the general population.
Today's Russian Federation Council, the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament, effectively represents the federal government in the regions rather than providing the regions representation in federal policy-making. The system of choosing members has evolved considerably over time, from direct elections in the early to mid-1990s, to appointments today by the regional executive and legislative branches. In practice, the appointment process is neither democratic, nor representative, instead giving strong benefits to the ruling United Russia party, whose members dominate the chamber. Businesspeople make up a third of the members, but Russia's largest energy and metals companies do not see the rubber stamp body as a way to influence policy-making1.
This article examines the causal mechanism which resulted in the recall of Petrozavodsk city mayor at the end of 2015. The analysis shows that the leading role in this outcome was played by the regional authorities. They decided to remove the Petrozavodsk mayor after their failure to control her actions in office. The key step towards the implementation of this decision was elimination of the autonomy of the local political elites, who supported the mayor. The regional authorities replaced popular mayoral elections in the city with the appointment of a city manager to assure their political control in the future. This case study demonstrates that the survival of mayoral gov-ernance and the direct mayoral elections in the cities of Russia depend on mayoral loyalty to the regional authorities.
By using a database of 543 cases of violent corporate raiding in Russia from 2011-2013 assembled by the Center of Public Procedures “Business against Corruption,” we tested several hypotheses: Violent corporate raiding is widespread in regions 1) with welldeveloped industrial, construction and trade sectors 2) rent-oriented law enforcement agencies cooperating with raiders and 3) low numbers of NGOs. The level of violent corporate raiding is connected to the economic appeal of the region and its capacity to implement raiding due to the rent-orientation of regional law enforcement. Because raiders can be considered rational economic actors who try to maximize their benefit, the best way to improve the situation is to increase the risks for raiders by developing civil mechanisms for the protection of entrepreneurs, for example, business associations and other NGOs.
This article examines the causes of dysfunction in the political machines of Russian regions. According to existing studies, one of the main factors limiting the effectiveness of political machines is the rotation of governors and the Kremlin’s practice of appointing officials who have no previous ties to the region (so-called “Varangians”). Using a unique database of biographies of the municipal heads of Bashkortostan, this study provides a detailed explanation of the causal link between the rotation of the governor and the subsequent failure of the political machine, arguing that it is not so much the status of the new governor as a change in the management model of local elites that leads to a decline in incumbents’ electoral support. Local elites are a key link in the mechanism of the political machine, but they respond to the demands of the regional authorities only when their interests and political patronage are guaranteed by the governor. The lack of such guarantees leads to the loss of loyalty from local elites, negatively impacting the work of the political machine.