Russian Politics: The Paradox of a Weak State (Comparative Politics and International Studies)

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9780199327843: Russian Politics: The Paradox of a Weak State (Comparative Politics and International Studies)
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What has become of the Russian state twenty years after the collapse of Communism? Why have the rulers and the ruled turned away from democratic institutions and the rule of law? What explains the Putin regime's often uncooperative policies towards Europe and its difficult relations with the rest of the world? These are among the key issues discussed in this essential book on contemporary Russia by Marie Mendras, France's leading scholar on the subject. Mendras provides an original and incisive analysis of Russia's political system since Gorbachev's perestroika. Contrary to conventional thinking, she contends that today the Russian state is weak and ineffective. Vladimir Putin has dismantled and under- mined most public institutions, and has consolidated a patronage system of rule. The Medvedev presidency was but one chapter in the story, as Putin's re-election exemplifies. Political and economic power remains concentrated in the hands of a few groups and individuals, and the elites remain loyal to the leadership in order to hold on to their positions and prosper. Those at the helm of the state are unaccountable to the society they govern. Up until the economic crisis of 2008, ordinary Russians largely turned a blind eye to these authoritarian methods because living standards had markedly improved. The economic slowdown, rising corruption and unfair elections have put the leadership under pressure, and have caused unprecedented public protest.

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About the Author:


MARIE MENDRAS is Professor at Sciences Po University and Research Fellow with the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris. She runs the Observatoire de la Russie at the Centre for International Study and Research (CERI) and is an Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.

Review:


"One of France's leading Russian experts, Ms. Mendras points up continuities from tsarist times...She portrays a society riddled with mistrust and corruption, which has fostered an elite around Mr. Putin that has hugely enriched itself. For all his proud talk of a 'sovereign democracy,' this has not been good for Russia. One poll she quotes finds 85% of Russians feeling they have no influence over how their country is run."--Economist


"A brilliantly textured portrait and fiercely argued expose of the troubled and troubling political condition of Putin's Russia. Paradoxically, as Mendras lucidly explains, the Russian state abuses its citizens precisely because it is too weak to control itself. ... the most stimulating work yet published on the origins and evolution of post-communist Russian politics."--Stephen Holmes, Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law, New York University School of Law


"A solid study of the Putin political regime, emphasizing the structural tensions between a highly effective authoritarian political machine and a governmental system that cannot effectively manage the modernization of post-Communist Russia." -- Russian Review


"... a convincing account of the Russian political arena since the 1990s ... a good source for graduate students as well as the general public to develop critical thinking, obtain advanced knowledge of Russian domestic and foreign politics today, and learn about the possible implications of Putin's presidency." -- Europe-Asia Studies


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