In Russia’s Crony Capitalism, Åslund focuses on Putin’s political and economic strategy in the 2000s. The book draws on Åslund’s deep expertise on Russian politics, detailing the role of Putin’s close associates and businesspeople in establishing the economic system we see in the 2000s in Russia. While making an important contribution to our understanding of Russian political economy, the book overlooks the important issue of economic inequality and variation across the regions of Russia. Åslund sometimes offers policy recommendations that, while perhaps admirable in principle, are unlikely to be politically feasible in the near term in Russia. Nonetheless, Åslund’s perspective is one of the best informed on Russian politics today and a vital part of the ongoing discussion about how, when, and why the Putin era of Russian politics will continue to work and how it will come to an end.
Viewed through the lens of social policy, Russia’s 2020 constitutional reform codifies existing priorities without addressing the issues that have fragmented the meaning of social citizenship. Placing these changes in theoretical and historical context, we identify the core causes of inequity in the social welfare system, the sustained gap between state promises, and Russians’ lived experience. Our case studies highlight the sources of shared social grievances and the obstacles to national collective action that maintain stability in the facing of increased localized protest actions. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of observing the opposing forces of continuity and change in Russian politics as they define and redefine the meaning of social citizenship.