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Abstract

The article discusses defects of Russian elections, with emphasis on the fact that the electoral systems being used favour the regime. The system used for registration of candidates and party lists allows the state to deny access to strong candidates whose election would inconvenience the state bureaucracy. Pro-government candidates are advantaged during election campaigns, as segments of the population that are dependent upon the state find themselves pressured to participate, sometimes including outright control of their vote. Furthermore, many regions experience large-scale electoral fraud. The article suggests means to overcome these defects, including a comprehensive revision of electoral legislation.

in Russian Politics
AutorIn: Andrei Semenov

Abstract

This paper documents the patterns of opposition parties’ engagement with street politics in Russia. It claims that in the electoral authoritarian regimes like Russia under Vladimir Putin, public protests remain a viable instrument for reaching out to the constituencies and eliciting concessions from the regime. In addition, collective actions signal commitment and strength and help to overcome the media blockade usually imposed by the state. However, in order to be a successful player in contentious politics, parties have to develop organizational capacity. Using the data on more than 7000 protest events that took place in Russia in 2012–2015, I show that the regional party branches with higher electoral returns in federal and regional elections organize more protest events controlling for other possible determinants of mobilization. The Communist Party remains the major mobilizing force covering a large array of issues and demands. However, the loyal opposition—LDPR and Just Russia—and the liberal parties like Yabloko and People’s Freedom Party also consistently stage the public protests with their electoral performance on the regional level being associated with the level of their protest activity. Overall, the study shows that the organizational capacity of the opposition is necessary though insufficient condition for the parties to engage with street politics.

in Russian Politics
AutorIn: Yury Korgunyuk

Abstract

The article analyzes the weak points of the Manifesto Project’s methodology, such as its emphasis on issue salience, instead of issue positions; bringing the content of manifestos under too broad categories formulated at the beginning of the project; not quite the appropriate technique of factor analysis etc. An alternative methodology is proposed that focuses on party positions on issues which generate the largest polarization in the political space. It also enriches the empirical base of the studies and adjusts the technique of factor analysis. In order to reveal political cleavages inside these dimensions, the so called electoral cleavages (factors of territorial differences in voting for various parties) are taken as a starting point: factor loadings of parties in the electoral and political spaces are compared through correlation and regression analyses. The proposed methodology is applied to an analysis of election results in Russia (2016) and Germany (2017).

in Russian Politics
AutorInnen: Eleonora Minaeva und Petr Panov

Abstract

In the context of electoral authoritarianism, political mobilization is likely to be a more reasonable explanation of cross-regional variations in voting for the party of power than the diversity of the regions’ policy preferences. In the Russian Federation, the political machines which coordinate various activities aimed at mobilizing people to vote for United Russia demonstrate different degrees of effectiveness. This article examines the structural factors that facilitate machine politics focusing on ethnic networks. Although strong ethnic networks are more likely to arise if the members of an ethnic group live close to each other, and at the same time separately from other ethnic groups, so far researchers have neglected to consider the localization of ethnic groups within the territory of an administrative unit as a factor. In order to fill the gap, we have created an original geo-referenced dataset of the localization of non-Russian ethnic groups within every region of the Russian Federation, and developed special GIS (geographic information systems) techniques and tools to measure them in relation to the Russian population. This has made it possible to include the localization of ethnic groups as a variable in the study of cross-regional differences in voting for United Russia. Our analysis finds that the effect of non-Russians’ share of the population on voting for UR increases significantly if non-Russian groups are at least partially geographically segregated from Russians within a region.

in Russian Politics
AutorIn: Alexander Kynev

Abstract

This article examines the outcomes of renewal of personnel in the Russian regional authorities during different stages of their development: 1991–1995 (primarily assigned based on elections in individual regions), 1995–2005 (the period of mass direct elections), 2005–2012 (a system of appointment based on the president’s nomination), and 2012–2018 (elections via a municipal filter). It attempts to aggregate and analyse the instances where the heads of regional authorities were elected (or appointed) despite having no previous relationship to those regions (outsider politicians). It offers a classification system for these outsiders, distinguishing “pure outsiders”, “returnees”, “adapted outsiders”, “naturalised outsiders” and “federalised locals”.

in Russian Politics

Abstract

International interest in the Arctic is heating up along with the planet’s atmosphere and the region is increasingly presented as a new potential hotspot for inter-state competition and discord. Inevitably, Russia is often at the centre of this implicitly ‘realist’ narrative. This study provides an evaluation of Moscow’s Arctic policy between 2000 and 2019 from an international relation theory perspective by building upon the burgeoning literature on the Arctic and sources on Russian foreign policy in general. This study postulates that several elements of Russian regional policy in the High North do indeed follow realist readings of the international politics yet it also demonstrates how structural realism fails to adequately account for the institutionalization of regional relations and, most notably, neglects the importance of domestic factors, specifically historical memory, towards understanding Moscow’s contemporary Arctic policy.

in Russian Politics

Abstract

In today’s Russia, there is a constant clash of opinions when it comes to perceptions of the past, and to what can be learned from Russia’s Soviet experience in general and Stalinist repression in particular. A consensus which seemed just over the horizon between 1998 and 1991 now grows ever more distant. Nearly half of those surveyed in 2017 say that Stalin should not be seen as a state criminal; that the repressions are best discussed less rather than more, and that there is nothing to be gained by dredging up the past. The only way for Russia to pursue a future of democracy and respect for human rights is to leave all of that baggage behind. How has this come to be? What are the roots of these myths of a great and just Stalin that now emerge 65 years after his death? A series of scholars posit that the key lies in Russian society itself, with its tendency towards being ruled with a firm hand and a state that merely takes a neutral position between the liberals and the Stalinists. Others assert that these are successful constructs of the Kremlin, which seeks to inculcate domestic support for authoritarian rule. In order to resolve this disagreement, we studied the book market for Stalin-related literature published within the last twenty years. The study indicates that the market comprises two mostly separate areas: books by Stalin apologists on the one hand, and books by professional historians and recollections by victims of repressions on the other. Quantitative analysis shows that the former receive markedly greater support, which reflects the state’s role over the past fifteen years in forming a positive image of Stalin.

in Russian Politics

Abstract

Research on Russian civil society focuses largely on the repressive legislative side of state policies, to the virtual exclusion of the rise of domestic funding, be it individual, corporate, or public. This article instead contributes to the discussion of state funding for the third sector by looking at the Russian Presidential Grant Fund, a state institution that has disbursed RUB18 billion (approx. $275 million at the August 11, 2019, exchange rate) to the third sector since 2016, making it one of the most influential sources of financial support to Russian civil society. A data-driven analysis of the Fund reveals that, although it prioritizes certain types of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) over others, there is a discernible attempt to address some of the most pressing social ills in Russia today. Whereas some grant directions, such as the “preservation of historical memory” and “development of public diplomacy and support of compatriots,” further long-held, Kremlin-sponsored ideological projects, the biggest categories supported by the Fund focus on more classical philanthropic issues, confirming the state’s growing delegation of the provision of public services to the third sector.

in Russian Politics

Abstract

This paper explores how urban Russians perceive, negotiate, challenge and reaffirm the political configuration of the country and leadership in terms of the ‘imagined nation’. Based on around 100 interviews in three Russian cities, three main pillars appear to prop up the imagined ‘pro-Putin’ social contract: (i) the belief that ‘delegating’ all power into the hands of the President is the best way to discipline and mould state and society; (ii) the acceptance of Putin’s carefully crafted image as a ‘real man’, juxtaposed against negative views of the Russian ‘national character’; (iii) the internalization of a pro-Putin mythology on a ‘government of saviors’ that delivers normality and redeems a ‘once-ruined’ nation. The paper shows that those who reject these pillars do so due to differing views on what constitutes ‘normality’ in politics. This normative split is examined over a number of issues, leading to a discussion of internal orientalism and the limited success of state media agitation in winning over the skeptical.

in Russian Politics
AutorIn: Dima Kortukov

Abstract

The concept of sovereign democracy dominated the political discourse in Russia in 2006–8 but lost much of its significance since. In this article, I argue that sovereign democracy is best understood as the response of Russia’s authorities to the threats of democratization, following Eurasian color revolutions. I distinguish between three conceptually distinct aspects of sovereign democracy: (1) a social contract (2) a legitimation discourse; and (3) a counter-revolutionary praxis. These dimensions allow us to understand what functions sovereign democracy fulfilled within the framework of Russia’s authoritarian regime and why it lost its prominence over time.

in Russian Politics