The Russian Federation

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					The Russian Federation
Eurasia (10 time zones) 1.8 times the
 territory of the US
Secular tradition of authoritarianism, police
 state, and violence against the poor,
 minorities, and peasants.
Multiple ethnic groups
Rich in natural resources (oil & minerals)
 in Siberia.
            Historical Overview
≠ Western Europe (Late Absolutism: serfdom
  and slavery)
Markets glued    ≠   Despotic power glued Russia
Western Europe       nomads and free peasants

Roots in the Muscovite state (12th century)
Tsars (“Ivan the Terrible”…Absolutist monarchs)

18th century Russian Enlightenment: Saint
  Petersburg (thousands die in building the city
  in a swamp)
Precursors in matters of political & secret police
19th Century’s Failed Liberalization
Alexander I’s attempt of reform stopped by
  Napoleonic wars. Alexander’s death in 1825
  (problems of succession) Liberal reform crushed.
Nicholas I (anti-modern, anti- Enlightenment), dies
  in the Crimean war (1853-56). Russian defeat.
  Nicholas I dies in the war
Alexander II: Time of (Limited) Reform
  Liberation of serfs (1871), allows regional
  assemblies, encourages industrialization (but
  opposes a constitutional regime). Assassinated in
(Russian traditions: political police, political
  repression, and anarchism)
          The Last Absolutist State
Alexander III: renewed political repression (15 years)
Nicholas II: Bloody Sunday (father Gapon) 1905 Revolution
Sergei Eisenstein’s October
The tsar promises civil liberties and a legislature (the Duma)
1914 Russia enters WWI
1917 riots lead to the Revolution in February (Lenin’s April
  Theses). Moderate government (Liberal/Socialist) led
  by Kerensky. Brief experience with Liberal democracy
1917 (October) revolution. Radicalization of the revolution
  (Bolsheviks). Lenin’s leadership
• Communist Party of Soviet 60 Union (CPSU), also known
  as the Bolschevik Party. Centralized and authoritarian
  party organized by Lenin (Vanguard).
Lenin's New Economic Policy: mixed system controlled by
  the govt. with participation of small private companies.
  Economic growth.
1924 Lenin's death  Stalin (Central
  planning) Major and fast industrialization
  of the country  Collectivization (state
  farms) (20,000,000 die) and Purges (1937)
• Totalitarian regime. The Bolschevik Party
  dominated all aspects of society and the
• Party’s ties with the government and KGB
  (security police, an essential instrument of
  party’s domination)
• Police State
• Chronology of the Soviet Period
          Main (Political?) Institutions
• For traditional Marxism, politics is a tool of class
  domination, and parliamentary arrangements and political
  parties represent different class alliances
   – No need for politics, parties (or the state) in a classless
• Soviets (“All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers',
  Peasants, Cossacks' and Red Army Soldiers' Deputies”)
  and the Congress of Soviets within a Federation.
• Age of suffrage: 18. Vote for representatives of the local
  soviet (every 2½ years). Representatives choose the
  highest authorities (Central Committee)
   – Politburo (policy authority)
• “Partocracy”: absolute overlap between party and state
   – 300,000 officials (Top leadership: Individuals or oligarchies)
• De facto authority of the General Secretary of the
  Communist Party after Stalin (elected by the Central
       Culture or Institutions?
• Soviets on paper
• Soviets (?) in reality

How far can we go in transforming patterns
 of political culture?
         From Stalin to Gorbachev
• 1953 Stalin’s death.
• Krushnev’s 1954 speech denouncing Stalin’s crimes
• Khrushchev/Brezhnev/Andropov/Chernenko/Gorbachev
• Attempts of reform
• Mid-1980s Glasnost (openness) and perestroika. Party
  secretary-general Gorbachev followed Krushnev’s attempts.
  Goal: to make Soviet socialism more modern and efficient
  and to give a voice to Soviet citizens. Steps:
   1-Traditional Soviet Methods
   2-Glasnost and democratization
   3-Programs of Reform
   4-Multiple demands of reform…Crisis
• Pandora’s box
• Gorbachev creates a presidential system and becomes
  President (March 1990)
1989-91 Yeltsin gains support in Moscow
June 1991, Yeltsin becomes President of the
  Russian Republic (and begins disputing power to
  Five republics claim independence
• Gorbachev intends to (re)create a Union
• August 1991 (Russian) Attempt of military coup
  leads to Gorbachev’s abandoning government
  and a collapse of the Soviet Union  chaotic
• Birth of the Russian Federation (December
         Russian Reforms
"Shock Therapy" (opposed by parliament
  and the vice-president)

Modern markets or "economic genocide“?
         1992: Yeltsin Vs. the Parliament
A new type of government?
–Yeltsin: a strong presidency (≈ France’s Fifth Republic)
–Parliament: parliamentary system
 •Stalemate: Yeltsin’s rule by decree
     – April 1993: Referendum (Yeltsin or the Parliament? Yeltsin
       won for 59% with a turnout of only 39%, a result deemed
       illegal by the Constitutional Court)
 •Yeltsin ordered the dissolution of the Congress and the Supreme
  Soviet (declared illegal by the Constitutional Court), suspended
  the Constitution and called for elections for a new parliament, the
  State Duma, and a referendum to vote for his own project of
 •The Parliament asked the military for support against Yeltsin &
  designated “President” Rutskoi (vice president)
 •Yeltsin sent troops against the Parliament (150 deaths, 1,000
  wounded, 2,000 jailed)
          Yeltsin’s Hegemony
• Authoritarian rule
• Banned opposition
• Removal of members of the Constitutional
  Court and provincial leaders who opposed
  dissolving the Parliament
• Call for parliamentary elections on
  December 1993 (triumph of Yeltsin’s
  opposition—Zhirinovsky’s nationalist
  Liberal Democratic party, the Agrarian and
  the Communist parties)
     Boris Yeltsin 1991-1999.
Yeltsin’s government: inept, corrupt and
too closely tied to the economic
oligarchs who had become very wealthy
with the privatization of Soviet-era
•Not so glorious departure
•Yeltsin picked Vladmir Putin, a former KGB
 officer, to replace him (appointed prime
 minister and then elected as president)
      1993 Constitution
 Federal System (Government centered
in Moscow/ 89 different subnational

     Bilateral agreements between each
region and the federal government
                1993 Constitution
Executive power: Strong Presidency (rule by decree—
  decrees must cohere with the legal framework, veto
Chief of State: President (no vice-president)
Head of government: Premier (appointed by the President)
  Cabinet (appointed by the President)
  Presidential Administration (huge bureaucratic apparatus)
  Security Council
Legislative Power
  Russian Federal Assembly (Bicameral Legislature)
 State Duma (Lower Chamber ): 450 members, 225 are
  elected through PR and 225 are elected through SMD. 5%
  threshold. The Duma has power to impeach the President
  and dissolve the government.
 Federation Council (Upper Chamber: ) (178 members,
  chosen by the 89 regions). Must approve (major)
  presidential appointments in the judiciary.
Constitutional Court: (19 judges-cannot be fired)
      (Multi?) Party System
-Passage from one-party system to
  many (changing) parties
-Strong nationalism
-Survival of communism (electoral
  potential varies)
• 1999 Yeltsin’s resignation
• April 2000 election: Putin wins over 11
  candidates with 53% of votes
• Weak State, paralyzed economy
• Economic collapse, organized crime, corruption,
  disintegration of public health and public
  education, generalized destitution, Chechnyan
  separatism, terrorism…
• “Strong state” policy & struggle against regional
  governors and their political and economic
  leadership… Human rights?
      Roger E. Kanet & John S.
       Reshetar’s Conclusion

• By 1996, Russia had made substantial
  progress in establishing the bases for a
  functioning democratic system
• Challenges: strengthening the rule of law,
  respect for human rights, improving
  economic performance
               Failed Crusade?
• 1998 Default
• Alexander Solzhenitsyn (2000): “As a result of the
  Yeltsin era, all the fundamental sectors of our
  state, economic, cultural, and moral life have been
  destroyed or looted. We live literally amid ruins, but
  we pretend to have a normal life… We heard that
  great reforms were being carried out in the country.
  They were false reforms, because they left more
  than half of our country’s people in poverty… What
  does it mean to continue these reforms? Will we
  continue looting and destroying Russia until
  nothing is left?... God fobid these reforms should
         Failed Crusade? (Cohen)
• Stephen Cohen: reforms during the 1990s “has
  contributed to a human tragedy on a massive
  scale and, for the first time in history, the
  destabilization of a fully nuclearized country.” (xii)
• Flourishing of two cities, Moscow & Saint
  Petersburg, amidst poverty (70-75% population)

• More new orphans appeared in the 1990s than
  those resulting from 30,000,000 Russian
  casualties during WWII
• Robber Barons
Democracy & the Market:
  Friends or Enemies?
  Mancur Olson: Power & Prosperity
Rational Choice tradition (Individuals = Maximizers)
State ≈ Bandits (maximizer individuals) (Public Goods)
Different GAMES
    Predatory Bandits: to take as much as possible from a place
      and then leave (Short Term)
    Stationary Bandits: have incentives to stay and make a
      smaller but permanent profit (Long Term)… Rulers
Humanity has made progress to the extent that has provided
   “incentive for roving banding leaders to settle down and
   become rulers.” (Olson)
The only way of replacing banditry for rule arises from
   democratic arrangements, which emerge from “a balance of
   power among a small number of leaders, groups, or families—
   that is, by a broadly equal dispersion of power that makes it
   imprudent for any leader or group to attempt to overpower the
Develop “games” (coercion and incentives) to lead self-interested
   individuals to act in ways that are compatible with the general

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