Introduction

In: Russian Politics
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  • 1 Professor Emeritus, California State University
  • 2 University of Liverpool

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This article serves as an introduction to this special issue on recent developments in civil society organization and strategies in Russia. Despite the widespread assumption that the increased restrictions placed on NGO activity by the state in recent years have hampered their ability to operate, we argue that civil society in Russia continues to show signs of vitality. This is demonstrated by the fact that protests by ordinary Russians have grown and have often led to the formation of new groups and movements which have had some success in campaigning on specific issues. As the articles in this special issue highlight, one of the key tools affecting whether or not such movements can be successful in achieving their aims is that of framing. When organizations are able to frame the issue they are campaigning on in such a way as to resonate with ordinary people and avoid directly challenging the balance of power within Russia’s political system, they tend to enjoy more success than those groups which tend to take a more confrontational stance and thus face greater pushback and sanction from the authorities. This serves to highlight that NGOs and other civil society groups in Russia employ a range of different strategies and enjoy very different relationships with the authorities as a result.

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