The author argues that the return of Crimea to Russia, events in and around Ukraine, and associated tendencies in Russian domestic politics have created a new reality for Russian society. Many liberals consider declining Russian influence in the world a necessary condition of internal liberalization, while many of those who favor an independent role for Russia in the world and the strengthening of its influence are proponents of an authoritarian or even Stalinist internal regime. As a result, Russians face the unpalatable choice between a democratic Russia that has been reduced to a junior partner of the West and a strong Russia with a dictatorial nationalist regime that is a threat to all its neighbors. The author proposes a third option that would meet the aspirations of the majority by combining a normal moderate patriotism with an equally moderate liberalism. Keywords: Chaos, Crimea, democracy, liberalism, patriotism, Russia, Ukraine
The article provides the classification and description of various trends of Russian nationalism.
The accelerated integration of Crimea into Russia's state system illuminates the overall sociopolitical process in Russia. The process was largely improved, with various agencies each pursuing its own course of action. Some were formed on the basis of existing Ukrainian institutions, while others were created de novo. In some cases, locals were given senior positions, while in others the top posts were assigned to appointees from other regions who had no previous ties to Crimea. Overall, Moscow was careful to take into account local factors, such as the role of the Crimean Tatar population. The situation remains fluid, with many state institutions still subject to modification. A year and a half ago, the Russian Federation grew by three new subjects: the Republic of Crimea, the federal city of Sevastopol, and, encompassing them both, the Crimean Federal District. The Russian system of governance, which was already cumbersome and difficult to manage (as a result of excessive centralization and a lack of coordination among various agencies) met with a unique and difficult challenge. Crimea is being “embedded” into Russia during unfavorable economic conditions, which are aggravated by the confrontation with Kyiv and Western sanctions. The need to integrate the peninsula poses an enormous and diverse range of challenges for both Crimea and Russia: there are infrastructure problems related to Crimea's transition from the Ukrainian sphere toward greater self-sufficiency, as well as economic, sociocultural, and ethnic issues that must be resolved. Since even the model of governance has yet to be finalized, only the initial approaches and efforts can be assessed. This article will focus primarily on the transformation of Crimea's sociopolitical space and its system of governance, resulting from being embedded into the Russian Federation. As far as can be judged, the majority of Crimean residents are happy with recent events on the peninsula. This is according to an authoritative study conducted by [market research company] GfK Ukraine at the beginning of 2015, which showed that 82 percent of Crimean residents fully supported Russian annexation, 11 percent supported it, and only 4 percent were opposed to it.1 1. “The Sociopolitical Mood of the People of Crimea.” A study conducted by GfK Ukraine commissioned by Berta Communications, supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for the project, Free Crime, February 4, 2015 (http://gfk.com/ua/documents/presentations/gfk_report_freecrimea.pdf) (all URLs accessed September 2, 2015). View all notes It is also significant that among the fifteen issues that most concerned residents, those associated with governance ranked last: 2 percent expressed concern with the work of law enforcement, 3 percent expressed concern with a crisis of governance and a lack of order, and 5 percent believed the authorities were indifferent to the problems of ordinary citizens. However, conflicts do periodically flare up in relation to disputes either between local elites (often in Sevastopol) or between federal and local governments (as in Simferopol). The Crimean transformation from post-Soviet to Russian space that began on March 21, 2014 is interesting for several reasons. First, just as a developing embryo recapitulates the evolution of its species, Crimea's accelerated integration has illuminated certain features of Russian space. Second, Russia continues to evolve as the inclusion of Crimea is changing the Russian regime. Its history and the history of Russia as a whole can be divided into two periods: the pre-Crimean period and the post-Crimean period. Third, substantial changes are taking place not only in Crimea and mainland Russia but also in their relations with one another. For Crimea, these relations are essentially altered by a shift from the Ukrainian model of external governance in a relatively decentralized system to the Russia model of external governance in a centralized system.
This article argues that the new legitimacy of the Russian regime has a military-mobilization character; in order to maintain it the regime needs a deeper confrontation with the West and a dismantling of the residual elements of the electoral legitimacy. This shift also requires stronger reliance on the use of force.
The article argues that the new legitimacy of the Russian regime has a military-mobilization character, in order to maintain it the regime a deeper confrontation with the West and a dismantling of the residual elements of the electoral legitimacy. This shift also requires stronger reliance on the use of force.
After the mass protests that took place in 2011–12 and the annexation of Crimea in 2014, all of the negative tendencies that have existed in Russia's judicial system became more prominent, while the few positive tendencies have largely disappeared. Acquittal has become even rarer than it already was, even as the courts' tendency to hand down sentences short of incarceration has been reversed.
One of the main issues facing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is its enlargement. Traditionally, this issue has been viewed in terms of practical policy. The longer this dispute over enlargement drags on, however, the greater the depth it acquires. The enlargement debate reflects the unique political culture of the SCO. Another issue well-known from other organizations also arises—“different levels” in the admission of new participants. But the question of the organization's future is emerging in discussions of enlargement as the main matter in dispute: is it to be a global future (as Russia is more inclined to see it) or a regional future (as China is more inclined to see it)? Thus, the SCO faces one of the most important conflicts of today's world—that between globalization and regionalization. While debates about these trends and the relationship between them continue in the political, economic, and social sciences, the SCO has to make a practical choice in favor of one of the trends or find a way to combine them in determining its work priorities. The authors reformulate the issue of enlargement as a problem of finding a balance between globalizing and regionalizing trends in the SCO strategy. At the practical level this will make it possible to reconcile the basic interests of Russia and China in Eurasia.
The author analyzes which characteristics of the political system created under Putin have and have not changed since Medvedev became president. He considers the likely impact of the economic crisis.
The authors consider possible ways to reform decision-making procedures for the hiring of personnel for state service, relying both on international (English in first) and national experience.
The authors consider possible ways to reform decision-making procedures for the hiring of personnel for state service.
Russian regional policy in 2015 was focused on the continued dismantling of the modest political reforms introduced during the Medvedev presidency. These changes were implemented in order to minimize the possibility of the emergence and strengthening of new independent political players, and the resultant institutional imbalance toward centralization at the regional level was merely a side effect of this effort. The net effect has been a major strengthening of the power of governors at the expense of all other political actors at the regional level. The governors' power will now only be checked by federal oversight
The authors analyze levels of democracy and state capacity (including quality of institutions) in the postcommunist countries over the past two decades and consider the theoretical implications of the relationship between these variables. In particular, they cast serious doubt on the general validity of the J-curve hypothesis. They present their own informal “king of the mountain” model.
This article analyzes the ideational consensus that has taken shape in contemporary Russian politics, including its key components, and factors both of stability and of potential erosion. Noting the extraordinary durability of this consensus, which is supported by factors including the duration of the regime itself, its support among elites and the bureaucracy, effective mobilizational propaganda and conservative orientations among the middle classes and dominant public opinion, the author draws attention to several factors – as yet less evident – that may in the future change the situation. Among these are the volatility of public opinion, potential intra-elite dynamics, and the internal contradictions of the neo-conservative idea itself.
In 2015, Russia's judicial system saw a marked expansion in the repressive activity of the law enforcement bodies. For the first time in many years, there was a significant rise in the frequency of sentences involving imprisonment, while standards of proof in the Russian courts declined. The judiciary tried to compensate for its inability to resist pressure from the law enforcement bodies through the unprecedented application of amnesty in court verdicts. Sporadically declared amnesties have become almost the only thing protecting the Russian penal system from overcrowding.