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The history of communist crimes in the USSR has been well elucidated. Nonetheless, a still under-investigated group of archival materials are files of the Soviet counterintelligence. One of its tasks was the surveillance of the foreign diplomats and consular representatives operating on the territory of the USRR. Even after the fall of the USSR and the opening of the archives, access to the materials of the communist special services was and is very difficult. The situation changed not very long ago. Open access to materials of the former GPU/NKVD/KGB was possible in Ukraine. In the Branch State Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kyiv is a file continuing materials from the surveillance by the Soviet counterintelligence of the Polish diplomat Jan Karszo-Siedlewski, who was among others the head of the Polish consulates general in Kharkiv and Kyiv in 1932–1937. In this way, material that had been entirely inaccessible for researchers will be discussed in the present article.
This article charts the trajectory of Putin’s economic policy. All countries face the challenge of preserving national interests and identity while reaping the benefits of global economic integration. These pressures are particularly acute in the case of Russia, given its historical legacy as a global superpower. From the outset, Putin’s pragmatic embrace of global integration and market incentives was in tension with his authoritarian centralization of power at home and hostility towards the West abroad. Up until 2008, Putin was able to keep these two conflicting worldviews, and rival policy teams, in balance. But after 2012, geopolitical confrontation won out over economic development, culminating in the reckless invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
This article examines the issue of Putin’s presidential successor from a historical perspective of long-term political cycles. Contemporary Russia still shows considerable similarities to the polities, characteristic of old agrarian empires in Asia. Based on the thesis on the origins of the monocentric political system in Russia, our article analyses how the transition of presidential power takes place in Russia, who might be the next president of Russia and whether we will see a new ‘time of troubles’, or smuta, after Putin’s departure. A generational change in Putin’s elite cohort will require a specific candidate to ensure a successful transition as a long-term solution. This will involve balancing clashing interests between key informal power networks. In all likelihood, a repeat of a political cycle of empires will happen in Russia again, resulting in a continued consolidation of its monocentric political system.
Russia’s need to modernize in order both to provide for its peoples and deliver on the ambitions of its rulers are perennial. The articles in this special edition speak to the difficulties that Russia has in modernizing and the hybridity that it demonstrates as modernization and economic development have been shaped by compromise and historical legacies. This introductory article introduces some of these themes by looking at how Russia has reproduced forms of what are called ‘regime-supporting economy’, forms of economy that generate resources to support particular political configurations in power whilst limiting resource accumulation, redistribution and institution-building that can deal with all of the tasks that face the Russian state.