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Russia!. A Brief History and Political Examination. Just a Bit of Background…. Russia is about 1.8 times the size of United States, about 17 million square miles The capital city is Moscow

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A Brief History and Political Examination

just a bit of background
Just a Bit of Background….

Russia is about 1.8 times the size of United States, about 17 million square miles

The capital city is Moscow

Russia’s 141.9 million citizens descend from more than 100 ethnic groups. Russian is the official language of Russia and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, timber, furs, precious and nonferrous metals.

Education (total pop.): Literacy--99.4%.Health: Life expectancy (2007 est.)--67.5 average; 61.4 yrs. men, 73.9 yrs. women.

Industry: Types--Complete range of manufactures: automobiles, trucks, trains, agricultural equipment, advanced aircraft, aerospace, machine and equipment products; mining and extractive industry; medical and scientific instruments; construction equipment.

some vocab terms that may interest you
Some Vocab Terms that May Interest You……

Bolsheviks: Lenin’s faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party; later came to mean anyone who followed his views and/or organization.

Brezhnev, Leonid: General secretary of the CPSU from 1964 until 1982. Largely responsible for the stagnation of the USSR.

Central Committee: Supposedly the most important body in a communist party; its influence declined as it grew in size and the party needed daily leadership.

Cheka: The Soviet Union’s first secret police.

Chernomyrdin, Viktor: Prime minister of Russia, 1993–98.

Comintern: The interwar coalition of communist parties directed from Moscow.

Communist Party of the Russian Federation: The new incarnation of the CPSU for Russia.

Communist Party of the Soviet Union: The party that ran the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.

CPSU: Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Democratic centralism: The Leninist organizational structure that concentrates power in the hands of the party elite.

Fatherland–All Russia: One of the leading opposition parties in Russia in the 1999 Duma elections.

Federation Council: The largely powerless upper house of the Russian parliament.

Five-year plan: In the former Soviet Union and other communist countries, the period for which Gosplan developed goals and quotas.

Gaidar, Yegor: Reformist politician and acting prime minister of Russia in 1993.

Glasnost: Under Gorbachev, Soviet policies that opened up the political system and allowed for freedom of expression.

Gorbachev, Mikhail: Head of the CPSU and last president of the Soviet Union.

Gosplan: The Soviet central planning agency.

more terms
More Terms

KGB: Soviet secret police

Khodorkovsky, Mikhail: Russian tycoon arrested on corruption and tax evasion charges in 2003.

Khrushchev, Nikita: Successor of Josef Stalin as head of CPSU and Soviet Union from 1953 until he was ousted in 1964.

Lenin, V. I.: Architect of the Bolshevik revolution and first leader of the Soviet Union.

Liberal Democratic Party: In Britain, the number-three party and in some ways the most radical; in Japan, the dominant party since the 1950s; in Russia, the neofascist and racist opposition party led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Mensheviks: The smaller and more moderate faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party before World War I.

Near abroad: Russian term to describe the other fourteen republics of the former Soviet Union.

NEP: New Economic Policy in USSR

Nomenklatura: The Soviet system of lists that facilitated the CPSU’s appointment of trusted people to key positions. Adopted by other communist regimes.

Oligarch: Business and political leaders with what some think is undue influence in Russia.

Our Home Is Russia: New political party chaired by former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Perestroika: Ill-fated program to reform the Soviet economy in the late 1980s.

Politburo: Generic term used to describe the leadership of communist parties.

Power ministries: The most important departments in the Russian government.

Privatization: The selling off of state-owned companies.

even more terms
Even More Terms

Provisional government: Generic term used to describe temporary governments until a new constitution is written; also the government in Russia between the two 1917 revolutions.

Purge: The systematic removal of people from party, state, or other office; especially common in communist systems.

Putin, Vladimir: President of Russia since 2000.

RSFSR: Official title of the Russian Federation of the old Soviet Union

Russian Federation: Formal name of Russia.

Secret speech Given by Khrushchev in 1957, seen as the start of the “thaw.”.

Secretariat: Generic term used to describe the bureaucratic leaders of a communist party.

Shock therapy: Policies in formerly communist countries that envisage as rapid a shift to a market economy as possible.

Stalin, Joseph: Leader of the CPSU and Soviet Union, 1924–53.

State Duma: The lower house of the Russian parliament.

State Security Council: The leading ministers of the Russian government.

Third International: Moscow-dominated organization of communist parties around the world between the two world wars.

Twentieth Party Congress: Occasion of Khrushchev’s “secret speech” launching de-Stalinization.

United Russia: The political party led by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Yaboloko: One of the leading reformist parties in Russia.

Yeltsin, Boris: Former reformist communist leader and president of Russia, 1991–2000.

Zhirinovsky, Vladimir: Leader of the right-wing and racist Liberal Democratic Party in Russia.

Zyuganov, Gennady: Head of the Russian Communist Party.

russia s early years
Russia’s Early Years

The first lineal predecessor of the modern Russian state was founded in 862. The political entity known as Kievan Rus was established in Kiev in 962 and lasted until the 12th century. Byzantine culture predominated, as is evident in much of Russia's architectural, musical, and artistic heritage. Mongols under Batu Khan destroyed the main population centers except for Novgorod and Pskov in the 13th century and prevailed over the region until 1480..

Ivan III (1462-1505) referred to his empire as "the Third Rome" and considered it heir to the Byzantine tradition. Ivan IV (the Terrible) (1530-1584) was the first Russian ruler to call himself tsar. He pushed Russian eastward with his conquests but his later reign was marked by the cruelty that earned him his familiar epithet. He was succeeded by Boris Godunov, whose reign commenced the so-called Time of Troubles. Relative stability was achieved when Michael Romanov established the dynasty that bore his name in 1613.

During the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725), modernization and European influences spread in Russia. Peter created Western-style military forces, subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy to the tsar, reformed the entire governmental structure, and established the beginnings of a Western-style education system. He moved the capital westward from Moscow to St. Petersburg, his newly-established city on the Baltic.

Catherine the Great continued Peter's expansionist policies and established Russia as a European power. During her reign (1762-96), power was centralized in the monarchy, and administrative reforms concentrated great wealth and privilege in the hands of the Russian nobility.  

early years cont
Early Years cont.

Alexander I (1801-1825) began his reign as a reformer, but after defeating Napoleon's 1812 attempt to conquer Russia, he became much more conservative and rolled back many of his early reforms. During this era, Russia gained control of Georgia and much of the Caucasus. Throughout the 19th century, the Russian Government sought to suppress repeated attempts at reform and attempts at liberation by various national movements, particularly under the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855). Russia expanded into the rest of the Caucasus, Central Asia and across Siberia. The Trans-Siberian Railroad opened vast frontiers to development late in the century. In the 19th century, Russian culture flourished as Russian artists made significant contributions to world literature, visual arts, dance, and music. The names of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Repin, and Tchaikovsky became known to the world.

Alexander II (1855-1881), a relatively liberal tsar, emancipated the serfs. His 1881 assassination, however, prompted the reactionary rule of Alexander III (1881-1894). At the turn of the century, imperial decline became evident. Russia was defeated in the unpopular Russo-Japanese war in 1905. The Russian Revolution of 1905 forced Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a constitution and introduce limited democratic reforms.

u s s r

The ruinous effects of World War I, combined with internal pressures, sparked the March 1917 uprising that led Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate the throne. A provisional government came to power, headed by Aleksandr Kerenskiy. On November 7, 1917, the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized control and established the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Civil war broke out in 1918 between Lenin's "Red" army and various "White" forces and lasted until 1920, when, despite foreign interventions and a war with Poland, the Bolsheviks triumphed. After the Red army conquered Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, a new nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), was formed in 1922.

First among its political figures was Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Party and head of the first Soviet Government, who died in 1924. In the late 1920s, Josef Stalin emerged as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) amidst intra-party rivalries; he maintained complete control over Soviet domestic and international policy until his death in 1953. In the 1930s, Stalin oversaw the forced collectivization of tens of millions of its citizens in state agricultural and industrial enterprises. Millions died in the process. Millions more died in political purges, the vast penal and labor system, and in state-created famines. Initially allied to Nazi Germany, which resulted in significant territorial additions on its western border, the U.S.S.R. was attacked by the Axis on June 22, 1941. Twenty million Soviet citizens died during World War II in the successful effort to defeat the Axis, in addition to over two million Soviet Jews who perished in the Holocaust. After the war, the U.S.S.R. became one of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. In 1949, the U.S.S.R. developed its own nuclear arsenal.

marx and engels
Marx and Engels

Karl Heinrich Marx - was a greatly influential German philosopher, political economist, and socialist revolutionary

Friedrich Engels - was the nineteenth century German political philosopher and Karl Marx’s co-developer of communist theory.

Friedrich Engels became the editor and translator of Marx’s writings

principal ideas of marxism
Principal Ideas of Marxism
  • Exploitation
      • Ruling class must exploit the rest of the pop.
  • Alienation
  • Historical Materialism
      • Progress occurs as a result of changes in the distribution of econimic power
  • Base and Superstructure
  • Class
      • Progress occurs as a result of conflict between the classes determined by who owns key institutions
        • Proletariat
        • Bourgeoisie
  • Ideology
  • Political Economy
  • Society based on inequality = workers resent their exploitation
    • Alienation & class consciousness enhanced by spread of mass education and political freedoms of liberal democracy
  • Significant political and economic progress can only occur through Revolution
  • Transitional Period
  • Communism
    • Aka no need for superstructure because people would no longer be exploiting each oher
marxism leninism

also known colloquially as Bolshevism or simply communism

originally coined by the CPSU in order to denote the ideology that Vladimir Lenin had built upon the thought of Karl Marx.

Democratic Centralism

the role of stalin
Took power from other contender’s, like Trotsky, Zimonev, and Kamenev after Lenin’s death

Trotsky’s “left” faction charged that the new economic Policy (NEP), which was launched in 1921, was a retreat from Socialism as it did not allow free enterprise and foreign investment

By 1929 Stalin’s power over the Soviet union remained unchallenged

The Role of Stalin
more on stalin
More On Stalin

Stalin believed that he could make a communist state no matter what

Stalin and therefore The Soviet Union pushed other countries to make a communist state. He instituted the Cominterm, a document made to foment world revolutions


In tandem with the radical reconstruction of agriculture, Stalin sought to greatly expand the industrial capacity

He devised five year plans that were to boost the backwardness of the Russian economy. They were accomplished at great cost to the common people.

He also instituted mass purges. He eliminated his enemies, both real and imagined.

what about khrushchev
What about Khrushchev?

Emerged after Stalin’s death

Began a program of De-Stalinization, taking away the more dangerous programs

In 1954 Khrushchev had shown his determination to be friendlier and more cooperative with other nations, by joining the United Nations International Labor organization (ILO) and the UNESCO (United Nations Educational scientific and Cultural Organization

Khrushchev even employed the “Secret Speech”, during which he openly denounced Stalin and his programs

Visited the United States in an effort to instill peace and harmony. He even invited vice-president Richard Nixon to come and talk to him in Russia in an effort to end hostility

khrushchev cont
In 1962 the United States and the Moscow came to a head over the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviets deployed missiles carrying nuclear warheads to Cuba. Kennedy, having seen the nuclear sites from the aerial photos, condemned Russia for supplying the weapons and ordered that all medium and long-range missiles entering and residing in Cuba will be dismantled.

Khrushchev offered two letters to Kennedy, both broaching a compromise. eventually Khrushchev wrote that he would dismantle the Cuban missiles

The communist governments of Russia and the Chinese saw this statesmen’s like move as a yield to capitalist markets, and this as well as a mishandling of some Sino-Soviet relations led to the fall of Khrushchev

Khrushchev cont.
don t forget brezhnev

Having ousted Khrushchev, the Russian state wanted a stable oligarchy, one that wasn’t as gregarious and unpredictable as that under Khrushchev

The men that replace Khrushchev quickly dismantled many of Khrushchev’s programs. They dismantled Khrushchev’s regional economic councils. Among other things they reversed the De-Stalinization programs and curbed public criticism of Stalin

Brezhnev soon gained control of this new nation-state. In his 18 year reign he turned the country into a military superpower with client states around the world.

Don’t Forget Brezhnev
brezhnev cont
His economic policy emphasized defense production and heavy industry

Also, he implemented stricter controls on artistic and ideological controls

He put his ideas out during the twenty-third Congress

He and a few of top cronies were members of the Politburo

Economically, Brezhnev made two “first priorities” when it came to resources, the military and agriculture

The economy grew by a meager 2.3 percent every year.

Foreign policy was continued from Khrushchev’s peaceful coexistence

Likewise a nuclear test ban treaty was signed between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev cont.
the fall of the u s s r
The Fall of the U.S.S.R.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the next (and last) General Secretary of the CPSU. Gorbachev introduced policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). But his efforts to reform the creaky Communist system from within failed. The people of the Soviet Union were not content with half-freedoms granted by Moscow; they demanded more and the system collapsed. Boris Yeltsin was elected the first president of the Russian Federation in 1991. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus formed the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. Gorbachev resigned as Soviet President on December 25, 1991. Eleven days later, the U.S.S.R. was formally dissolved.

the chechnya controversy
The Chechnya Controversy

In a dramatic speech in September 1993, President Yeltsin dissolved the Russian parliament and called for new national elections and a new constitution. In December 1993, voters elected a new parliament and approved a new constitution that had been drafted by the Yeltsin government.

In late 1994, the Russian security forces launched a brutal operation in the Republic of Chechnya against rebels who were intent on separation from Russia. Along with their opponents, Russian forces committed numerous violations of human rights. in August 1996 the Russian and Chechen authorities negotiated a settlement that resulted in a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and the holding of elections in January 1997. A peace treaty was concluded in May 1997. Following a number of terrorist incidents blamed on Chechen separatists, the Russian government launched a new military campaign into Chechnya. By spring 2000, federal forces claimed control over Chechen territory, but fighting continues as rebel fighters regularly ambush Russian forces in the region.

Throughout 2002 and 2003, the ability of Chechen separatists to battle the Russian forces waned but they claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts. In 2005 and 2006, key separatist leaders were killed by Russian forces. The situation stabilized after Ramzan Kadyrov was confirmed as Chechen President. In April 2009, the Russian Government announced the end of counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya; however, small-scale fighting continues between rebel forces and local law enforcement.

russia in recent years
Russia in Recent Years

On December 31, 1999 Boris Yeltsin resigned, and Vladimir Putin was named Acting President. In March 2000, he won election in his own right as Russia's second president with 53% of the vote. Putin moved quickly to reassert Moscow's control over the regions, whose governors had confidently ignored edicts from Boris Yeltsin. He sent his own "plenipotentiary representatives" (commonly called ‘polpred' in Russian) to ensure that Moscow's policies were followed in recalcitrant regions and republics. He won enactment of liberal economic reforms that rescued a faltering economy and stopped a spiral of hyperinflation. Putin achieved wide popularity by stabilizing the government, especially in marked contrast to what many Russians saw as the chaos of the latter Yeltsin years.

The economy grew both because of rising oil prices and in part because Putin was able to achieve reforms in banking, labor, and private property. During this time, Russia also moved closer to the U.S., especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2002, the NATO-Russia Council was established, giving Russia a voice in NATO discussions. However, U.S.-Russian relations cooled over the ensuing years given concerns over domestic developments in Russia, including political freedoms and human rights, as well as over foreign policy differences.

Dmitriy Medvedev was elected President In March 2008 and inaugurated in May. Relations during the first few months of his presidency were affected by the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war and subsequent decision by Russia to recognize the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. As a result, U.S.-Russian contact decreased significantly and the NATO-Russia Council was suspended temporarily. With the change of U.S. administration in January 2009, U.S.-Russian relations have improved as both sides seek to change the tone of the relationship and to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.

tsar nicholas ii
Tsar Nicholas II

1894 -1917

vladimir lenin
Vladimir Lenin

1917 - 1924

josef stalin
Josef Stalin

1924 - 1953

leonid brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev

1964 - 1982

mikhail gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev

1985 - 1991

boris yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin

1991 -1999

vladimir putin
Vladimir Putin

1999 - 2008

Sovereignty – having supreme rank, power, or authority
  • Authority - the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes
  • Power - political or national strength; great or marked ability to do or act
sources of power
Sources of Power
  • Governance - exercising management power and policy by the government
  • Political power – the type of power held by the government which allows administration of some or all of public resources
  • Authority - refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise that power
"We must create a tradition of constitutional transition of power and demonstrate to the country and the world that it is possible in Russia and that this is not a catastrophe, but on the contrary, our state is in some ways becoming stronger.”

V. V. Putin

  • The Russian Federation consists of 83 subjects
    • Each has 2 delegates represented in the Federation Council
  • 21 republics autonomous, each has its own constitution, president and parliament; home to a specific ethnic minority
  • 46 oblasts most common, regular administrative units with federally appointed governor and locally elected legislature.
  • 9 krais extremely similar to oblasts
  • 1 autonomous oblasts
  • 4 autonomous okrugs more autonomous than oblasts but less than republics; usually with substantial or predominant ethnic minority
  • 2 federal cities major cities that function as separate regions.
declaration on state sovereignty of the rsfsr
Declaration on State Sovereignty of the RSFSR
  • Began the constitutional reform in the Russian Federation in 1990
  • Adopted by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, signed by Chairman Boris Yeltsin

It declared:

  • The importance of the Constitution on the legislation
  • Equality before the law
  • The idea of separation of powers
  • Federalism - expanding the rights of the autonomous republics, regions, districts, territories of Russia
issues with sovereignty in russia
Issues with Sovereignty in Russia
  • The more liberal post-Soviet atmosphere allows more freedom of opinion
  • Therefore, minorities were speaking out…
    • Some wanted union between peoples on both sides of an internal or international border arbitrarily drawn by the tsars or by Soviet authorities
    • People can express their anger over Soviet political and economic subjugation and Russification campaigns
    • Non-Russian nationalities that were exploited for their resources for the benefit of Moscow want to be compensated
    • The perceived failure to provide support and protection of native schools and cultures by the government
    • The Russian government's monopolization and censorship of the news media acquainted minority groups with political trends, such as the spread of nationalism
political culture
Political Culture
  • Although the process of choosing a leader has been democratized, the process of governance remains a hybrid of Soviet and Western practices.
  • According to many analysts, the long-term well-being of Russia's political system will be determined by the next generation of political figures, who will not be schooled on Soviet-style power politics.
regime types
Regime Types
  • Socialist state – also referred to as a workers' state and in Marxist terms is defined as a state that has abolished capitalism and is moving towards communism
  • Federation - type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government.
  • The people must accept the right of the authority figures to rule over them for a nation to be successful
  • The new democratic Russian Federation has been difficult to adapt to based on expectations citizens had of the post-Soviet Russian state, including public order, economic security, welfare guarantees, and checks on social inequality
the system of government
The System of Government
  • Federation consists of 21 autonomous republics, 49 oblasts, 10 autonomous okrugs, and 1 autonomous oblast
    • Autonomous republics are corresponding to ethnic enclaves within Russia
    • Oblasts are similar to provinces and are headed by governors,
      • traditionally selected through local elections
      • since 2004, governors are appointed by president
    • Municipal and oblast legislatures are unicameral bodies
local and national relations
Local and National Relations
  • Some parts have feudal roots, others are from the expansion of the Russian state 300-400 years ago, or remnants of Soviet attempts to recognize local ethnic groups
  • Each subdivision has a unique status in relation to the Russian government
  • Some have become personalized “kingdoms” of local leaders
  • Sometimes criminal bosses run many local areas
    • Led Putin to pass laws to reduce the power of the Federal Council and create 7 federal districts
  • Presidentially appointed governors head the new districts
  • Russian president is now allowed to remove local leaders if they are not following national law
  • In 2005, local legislatures were given the power to nominate candidates for these appointments
russia s constitution
Russia’s Constitution
  • The Beginning of a Constitution
    • As a result of the 1993 political collapse of the Soviet Union and growing economic crisis:
      • Yeltsin dissolved the legislature and called for new elections
      • He proposed a referendum on a new constitution to following the new elections
  • Constitution:
    • a post-Soviet constitution, which was approved in a referendum held 12 December 1993
        • Constitutional democracy with 3 branches of government- executive, legislative, and judicial
        • Recognizes a separation of powers
        • Describes the purposes of government
    • Outlines the rights and responsibilities of citizens
    • Defines the structure of public institutions
    • Establishes review of judicial legislation
realities of the russian government
Realities of the Russian Government
  • In the political system established by the 1993 constitution, the president wields considerable executive power. There is no vice president, and the legislative branch is far weaker than the executive.
  • Basic liberties are not guaranteed
  • Country still under influence of the Nomenklatura system
    • Nomenklatura- If your file favorable enough your name was place on a nomenklatura list. It was the Soviet system of lists that facilitated the CPSU’s appointment of trusted people to key positions. Adopted by other communist regimes
  • People running the institutions in Russia today are products of this system.
executive branch
Executive Branch
  • The executive branch of the presidential administration consisted of three bodies:
    • Administration of the President- generally responsible for domestic political issues
      • prepares the president's bills for submission to the State Duma.
      • coordinates all of the president's interactions with various political parties and leaders, NGOs, nonprofit organizations, unions, and foreign governments.
    • Government- usually in charge of economic development,
    • Security Council of the Russian Federation - chiefly responsible for the foreign policy, security and defense of the country.
      • The Security Council is responsible for national security,
      • Security Council also advises the president on security issues.
    • The responsibilities of the three centers in the executive branch often overlap.
  • Bureaucrats, not politicians, run most of these ministries
  • Many bureaucrats are holdovers from the Soviet Regime and got their positions through the nomenklatura/ patriot-client process
executive branch1
Executive Branch
  • Current President: Dmitriy Medvedev
    • heads the Executive Branch—currently the president is the Head of State and the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
    • was elected to a four-year term as President on March 2, 2008
    • constitution does not allow presidents to serve more than two consecutive terms
    • During his presidency, Putin shifted the balance of power within the Executive Branch, to the President’s Administration
  • Prime Minister: Vladimir Putin
executive branch2
Executive Branch
  • Powers of the President:
  • the president drafts and issues legal regulations
  • settles disputes
  • ensures that the constitution is observed
  • responsible for ensuring the state's mechanisms for protecting and respecting citizen‘s rights and liberties.
  • appoints the cabinet and other top government posts
    • The legislative power to reject the president’s nominee is limited
    • If the Duma rejects the president’s choice three times, he can dissolve the Duma and call for new elections
    • Can veto acts passed by the legislature
    • The president can issue decrees that have the force of law unless countermanded by the Duma and can declare a state of emergency
    • There are provisions for impeachment, but it is extremely difficult to do so
legislative branch
Legislative Branch

Upper house- Federal Council (Soviet Federatsii)

  • Represents the local governments.
  • 178 seats; two for each of the 89 units
  • Has little power, except to delay legislation.
  • responsibility is to confirm justices of the Constitutional court, Supreme Court, and Superior Court of Arbitration.
  • Members are also local officials,thus have little time to do their legislative duties.
  • jurisdiction over issues affecting the provinces, including border changes and the use of force within Russia.
  • handles the bills dealing with finance and treaty ratifications.

Lower house- State Duma (Gosudarstvennaya Duma)

  • 450 seats
  • Does not have much real power.
  • Cannot force the executive to enforce laws it passes and it has limited influence over the budget.
  • In theory it has to approve presidential appointments, but the president finds ways around this requirement.
  • Duma can reject the president’s candidate for the prime minister, but if it is done 3 times, the president can dissolve the Duma and call for new elections
  • handles all other bills
judiciary branch
Judiciary Branch
  • Three Branches:

1st High Court of Arbitration & the Constitutional Court

      • 19 members are appointed by the president and approved by the Federation Council.
      • arbitrates any disputes between the executive and legislative branches and determines questions pertaining to constitutional issues

2nd Supreme Court

      • commercial court system - final court of appeal in criminal, civil, and administrative cases

3rd General Jurisdiction Courts

Judges are named by the president and the heads of the two bodies of parliament

There is a difficulty in retraining the entire legal profession and/or recruiting a new generation of attorneys

military influence
Military Influence

With the collapse of the original Soviet Union in 1992, Russia established a separate Ministry of Defense and military establishment upon the wreckage of the Soviet armed forces

Under the Soviet regime, the military was not actively involved in politics, but simply received funding for its exploits.

This has largely been true in post-Communist Russia as well

Many worry that the military might not stay out of politics in the future

    • Bureaucracy- a formal, hierarchical organization with many levels in which tasks, responsibilities, and authority are delegated among individuals, offices, or departments, held together by a central administration.
    • Under Stalin everything was decided in the centralized state bureaucracy's interests
  • After the fall of the Soviet era, Yeltsin ‘s “perestroika" (rebuilding) intended to reduce the bureaucracy’s waste and mismanagement
  • He wished to remove the bureaucratic officials from the old Communist system, but could not because the country lacked the trained personnel to take their place
  • Putin wanted to dramatically curb bureaucracy
political parties
Political Parties
  • Political parties are vehicles for individual leaders, rather than political ideals
    • (ex: United Russia and Putin)
  • Between elections, most parties are invisible
  • However, in every election, ambitious politicians organize new parties
    • Exception- the Communist Party
  • Party politics are in a formative, ever-changing stage
  • In the Duma, politicians appeal to popular dissatisfactions by criticizing the government
  • Parties that campaign for a state controlled economy and more secure social welfare system-
    • like the Communist Party
  • Ultranationalist parties like Liberal Democrats promise glory and power for Russia as in the old days
  • Personalized parties are the most successful
    • After one-party soviet rule many Russians hesitated to join political organizations

The first opportunity to vote in a reasonably free election- referendum occurred in 1993

Presidential Elections

  • Two Ballot System
    • Any number of candidates can run on the first ballot
    • If no one wins the majority on the first round, the top two have a runoff two weeks later

Duma Elections

  • Half elected by proportional representation
    • Parties must win 5% of the vote nationwide
  • Half in single member districts
    • Whoever wins the most votes in a district wins the seat
interest groups
Interest Groups
  • Pluralism- acknowledges the diversity of interests, wants members of society to accommodate their differences and engage in good-faith negotiation.
  • Corporatist- power is given to civic assemblies that represent economic, industrial, agrarian, social, cultural, and professional groups. These civic assemblies are known as corporations.
    • Legislators are usually influenced by the interests of business enterprises, employers' organizations, and industry trade groups.
    • In Russia security/intelligence, political, economic, informational and finance is being monopolized in the hands of Corporation members
  • Single party system- a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election.
    • During Soviet era, there was only the Communist Party
other players
Other Players

Regional and business leaders have been key players in post-Soviet Russia

Corruption of the rule of law, the lack of institutionalization of the rules of power, and the military threaten political stability

Links among mafia, corrupt bureaucrats, former red directors (Soviet-era managers of state enterprises), and private bankers helped drain capital into pockets of a select few

  • The oligarchs, a powerful group of seven businessmen who had made personal fortunes from privatization deals, also influenced post-Soviet Russia
    • Boris Berezovsky declared in 1997 that he and six other businessmen controlled over half of Russia’s GNP
    • Much wealth is gained through shady deals
    • Much of the wealth is sent abroad
    • Putin has had a bumpy relationship with them
the russian economy
The Russian Economy

In 1917 the Soviet Union was established along with its “war economy”

This economy was watched by the Supreme Economic Committee and the Economic Council

economy cont d
Economy Cont’d

Lenin began a new economic policy because he saw that the wartime economy would not hold forever

Under this plan the currency was changed and many farmers had their goods returned to them after their seizure

There were three five year plans which were launched from 1928, 1933, and 1938 however the third was interrupted by German invasion

economy cont d1
Economy Cont’d

After the invasion many enterprises were destroyed and the government controlled finances to combat wartime inflation

In 1946 the fourth five year plan was started.

Once Khrushchev came into power he ended those plans and created a seven year plan

economy cont d2
Economy Cont’d

Brezhnev criticized Khrushchev for his plans and made the rebirth of the five year plans and created two

Perestroika came in and tried to attack the food supply in 1982 with a food program but the damage had been done

A twelfth five year plan was created in 1990 but the soviet union deteriorated more and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1992

political change
Political Change

Russia was a communist state until the collapse of the Soviet Union and now the first opportunity to vote came in 1993

There was about a 50% participation rate

In presidential races there is a two ballot system

cleavages and divisions
Cleavages and Divisions
  • Ethnicity
    • More than 100 national minorities that coexist uneasily with politically and numerically predominant Russians
    • 82% of the population is Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians)
    • 3 other main ethnic groups that make up the minorities include:
        • Altaic group
        • Uralic group
        • Caucasus group

Leaders of different republics/minorities have pressed the central government to grant measures of autonomy to indigenous groups

  • Many republics want independence
    • Trade benefits with Russian government induce them to stay
    • Chechnya- Mostly Muslim region, very strong independence movement
      • If they succeed, others will try to break away too

2. Religion

  • Russia’s main religion is Russian Orthodox
  • Others: Judaism, Muslim, and Roman Catholic
  • Mostly nonreligious because religion was prohibited by communism
  • Since the regime is new and political parties are uncertain, there are no clear patterns that have emerged that indicate political attitudes of religious vs. nonreligious citizens
civil society
Civil Society
  • Historically- never has had a working civil society
  • Efforts since 1990s made to establish a civil society similar to the Americas
  • Recent history- Citizens want to make a difference through non-profit organizations to improve their civil society
    • feel Putin is establishing roadblocks

Recent articles about Russia’s society claim Russia has a “managed democracy” in which Putin controls the laws and constitution by manipulating the laws to benefit himself and business owners, while diminishing the non-profit organizations that are established


“Managed Democracy”

- Citizens are gradually restricted from the decision-making processes which may have direct impacts on their interests and society is deprived of opportunity to control governmental activities

-Consequently- governments do not serve the public interest and are not controlled by the public


Russia Civil Society Support Program (CSSP)

- 4 year USAID funded initiative aimed at strengthening the nongovernmental (NGO) sector in Russia

-Promotes environment where the government actively reaches out to involve NGOs in policy development, in turn, NGOs demonstrate skills and capacity to advocate their positions in a constructive manner

  • Soviet Era
    • Media under full state control
    • Major newspapers: Pravada, Izvestiya, Krasnaya, Zvezda
      • “official organs” of party and government agencies
  • Post Soviet Era
    • Played central role in forming public opinion toward critical national concerns
      • Such as: Chechnya conflict, economic crisis, and government polices


    • Public figures (Boris Yeltson) and government actions received ruthless criticisms
    • Deterioration of environment, public health, national defense, and national economy has been thoroughly exposed


    • Quality of Russian Journalism is low
    • Journalists do not verify sources fully or are denied access to relevant individuals
    • Most newspapers make no clear distinction between objective reports and editorials
    • Government exerts heavy pressure on media to alter coverage on certain issues
      • Mostly effective because media relies on government for support
political participation
Political Participation
  • Participation levels are low, however, some citizens are active
  • Citizens did actually vote during Soviet rule in the 20thc
    • Close to 100%
    • Serious consequences if did not vote
    • Elections not competitive- voted for handpicked candidates by Communist leaders

Since 1991 Elections- Voter turnout increased

    • Higher than U.S., lower than Britain and France
  • Voting rate has decreased since first democratic election
  • Lack of national pride since the fall of the Soviet Union
    • Before = twin super power to the U.S.
    • Now = struggling

It has been claimed: “ ‘true’ democracy has not yet taken hold in Russia because the people themselves are ‘co-conspirators’ in the rejection of democratic values and practices”

    • Because of historical experience, they do not posses the understanding of democratic practices
    • The traditional view of Soviet society incorporated “enforced departicipation”
social movements
Social Movements
  • “Nashi” (Ours) Movement (2005)
    • Purported purpose is to combat fascism, but in reality it focuses on idolizing the Prime Minister and gaining support for the United Russia Party during the 2007/2008 elections
    • 10,000 strong
    • Pro-Putin
    • Special army exclusively for Nashi
    • Since Putin won election, not as important to him anymore
public policy in russia
Public Policy in Russia

Some of the main policy issues in Russia are foreign policy, human rights issues, and terrorism.

Although the government has recognized the legitimacy of international human rights standards, the institutionalization of procedures to safeguard these rights has lagged. There are, however, some indications that the law is becoming an increasingly important tool for those seeking to protect human rights.

Lengthy pretrial detention remains a serious problem. Russia has one of the highest prison population rates in the world, at 632 per 100,000. There are credible reports of beating and torture of inmates and detainees by law enforcement and correctional officials, and brutality perpetrated by the prisoners themselves, some of whom are informally granted authority to enforce order within the prisons.

chechen terrorism
Chechen Terrorism

In the North Caucasus, there have been credible allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen forces. Rebels also have committed abuses and acts of terrorism. Although the number of kidnappings and disappearances committed by government and rebel forces markedly declined in Chechnya in 2007 and 2008, similar incidents have been reported in neighboring Ingushetiya and Dagestan.

beslan school hostage crisis
Beslan School Hostage Crisis

1,200 school children taken hostage by Chechen rebels on September 1, 2004

334 civilians killed

Putin changed local elections so he appointed local officials and had them approved by the Duma

Critics were suspicious of Putin’s attempts to increase his power

poverty problems
Poverty Problems
  • Originally benefits such as free transportation, medicine, and utilities for poor
  • Putin switches to cash handouts for poor- decreases popularity
  • Large pension fund- increasing
  • Pensions for caring for children
freedom of speech
Freedom of Speech?

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, in practice government pressure on the media persists, resulting in numerous infringements of these rights. The government uses direct ownership or ownership by large private companies with links to the government to control or influence the major media outlets, especially television, through direct control and through self-censorship by editors and journalists. The government uses its controlling ownership in major national television and radio stations, as well as the majority of influential regional ones, to restrict access to information about issues deemed sensitive, including coverage of opposition political parties and movements. Unsolved murders of journalists, including the murder of respected investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006, have caused significant international concern and increased the reluctance of journalists to cover controversial subjects.

economic policy
Economic Policy
  • Two groups: Reformers wanted immediate change, “shock therapy”, conservatives wanted slower approach
  • Yeltsin started to emphasize privatiziation in 1991-1992
  • The Russian economy underwent tremendous stress in the 1990s as it moved from a centrally planned economy to a free market system. Difficulties in implementing fiscal reforms aimed at raising government revenues and a dependence on short-term borrowing to finance budget deficits led to a serious financial crisis in 1998.
  • The global economic crisis hit Russia hard, starting with heavy capital flight in September 2008, which caused a crisis in its stock market. Several high-profile business disputes earlier in 2008 such as as the Georgian war helped drive capital out of Russia.
economic policy cont
Economic Policy cont.

The CBR intervened to keep the ruble stable during times of volatile international commodity prices and to manage inflation. In years of record high oil prices, the Central Bank typically purchased dollars to prevent real appreciation of the ruble. These interventions initially had limited effect on inflation, as they were mostly sterilized by budget surpluses and demand for rubles grew in a robust era of economic growth. By 2007, fiscal policy and the balance of payments were the actual drivers of monetary policy, particularly as large capital inflows due to increased borrowing by Russian banks and corporations caused the money supply to swell and added to inflationary pressures.

trade in russia
Trade in Russia

Russia is currently the 28th-largest export market for U.S. goods. Russian exports to the U.S. were fuel oil, inorganic chemicals, aluminum, and precious stones. U.S. exports to Russia were machinery, vehicles, meat (mostly poultry), aircraft, electrical equipment, and high-tech products.

Russia is in the process of negotiating terms of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. and Russia concluded a bilateral WTO accession agreement in late 2006, and negotiations continue on meeting WTO requirements for accession. Russia reports that it has yet to conclude a bilateral agreement with Georgia.

foreign policy
Foreign Policy

In the years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia took important steps to become a full partner in the world's principal political groupings. On December 27, 1991, Russia assumed the permanent UN Security Council seat formerly held by the Soviet Union. Russia also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Russia and the European Union (EU) signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. It signed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace initiative in 1994. The NATO-Russia Founding Act established the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) in 1997, with the NATO-Russia Council superseding the PJC in 2002.

Russia, despite misgivings, did not actively oppose enlargement of NATO by members of the former Warsaw Pact and the Baltic states, which had been forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union. However, Russia has recently stressed its strong opposition to the membership aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia.

u s russian relations
U.S./Russian Relations

The United States and Russia share common interests on a broad range of issues, including counterterrorism and the drastic reduction of our strategic arsenals. Russia shares our basic goal of stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, launched in 1992 to facilitate dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union, was renewed in 2006 until 2013. At the 2006 G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, the U.S. and Russia announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to keep terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials.

We are working with Russia to bring Iran's nuclear programs into compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rules and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737, 1747, and 1803. On North Korea, Russia is a participant in the Six-Party Talks aimed at the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Russia also takes part in the Middle East Peace Process "Quartet" (along with the UN and the EU). Russia now interacts with NATO members as an equal through the NATO-Russia Council but without veto power over NATO decisions. During the past several years,

Russia has intensified its efforts to combat trafficking in persons. We are cooperating in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Despite this cooperation, there remain areas in which the U.S. and Russia disagree, including over Moscow’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and assertion of “privileged interests” in Eurasia. The Obama administration is seeking ways to improve our bilateral relations and enhance cooperation by focusing on areas of mutual interest, while managing areas of disagreement.

post 9 11 era
Post 9/11 Era
  • September 11th moved Russia and the U.S. closer together
    • Al-Qaeda had worked alongside Chechen rebels
a few other issues
A Few Other Issues….

As of the end of 2008, there were 461,754 HIV cases officially registered in Russia, though experts believe the actual number may be as many as 1 million HIV cases. The government currently spends over $250 million per year on HIV/AIDS treatment programs and has allocated over $42 million for the period of 2007-2010 to support HIV/AIDS vaccine research.

Russia has a body of conflicting, overlapping and rapidly changing laws, decrees and regulations, which has resulted in an ad hoc and unpredictable approach to doing business. Regional and local courts are often subject to political pressure, and corruption is widespread. Russia's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession process is also helping to bring the country's legal and regulatory regime in line with internationally accepted practices.

new defense policies
New Defense Policies

The Russian Government has stated a desire to convert to a professional army, but implementation has been progressing slowly. In an effort to make military service more attractive, the tour of duty for conscripts was reduced to one year (from 18 months) beginning in 2008, and the military is offering increased pay and benefits to raise the number of professional servicemen.

Despite recent increases in the budget, however, defense spending is still unable to sustain Russia's oversized military. Current troop strength, estimated at 1.1 million, is large in comparison to Russia's GDP and military budget, which continues to make the process of transformation to a professional army difficult. This is the result of the Soviet legacy and military thinking that has changed little since the Cold War. Senior Russian leaders continue to emphasize a reliance on a large strategic nuclear force capable of deterring a massive nuclear attack.

Russia's efforts to transform its Soviet-legacy military into a smaller, lighter, and more mobile force continue to be hampered by an ossified military leadership, discipline problems and human rights violations, limited funding, and demographics.

russia in the media
Russia in the Media
  • After Gorbachev came to power, everyone began to say anything and everything that was on their mind
  • Starting in 1991, media passed into private hands
    • Two leading networks run by Berezovsky and Gusinsky

Television is the main influence

Fewer than 5% population on Internet

review questions to see if you were paying attention
Review Questions:To see if you were paying attention
  • True or False
    • The 1993 Russian Constitution established 3 branches of government that are similar to that of the United States
  • Which party does Boris Yeltsin a member of?
    • Liberal Democratic Party
    • United Russia
    • Agrarian Party of Russia
    • The Communist Party
  • How many consecutive terms is the president allowed to serve?
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • True or False
    • Russia has reached the full stage of democracy
  • True or False
    • Boris Yeltsin is effectively promoting civil society and is ineffectively promoting democracy
  • Which of the following make up Russia’s ethnic minorities
    • Altaic group
    • Slavs
    • Uralic group
    • Both a and c