Chapter 8 Russia
Critical Junctures • Patrimonialism: A system of governance in which a single ruler treats the state as personal property (patrimony). Appointments to public office are made on the basis of unswerving loyalty to the ruler. In turn, state officials exercise wide authority in other domains, such as the economy, often for their personal benefit and that of the ruler, to the detriment of the general population. • Mir: A traditional form of communal peasant organization in Russia that survived until the collectivization campaign of the late 1920s and involved a periodic redistribution of strips of land among families of the commune.
The Bolshevik Revolution and the Establishment of Soviet Power • Democratic centralism: A system of political organization developed by V. I. Lenin and practiced, with modifications, by all communist party-states. Its principles include a hierarchal party structure in which (1) party leaders are elected on a delegate basis from lower to higher party bodies; (2) party leaders can be recalled by those who elected them; and (3) freedom of discussion is permitted until a decision is taken, but strict discipline and unity should prevail in implementing a decision once it is made. In practice, in all Communist parties in China, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, centralizing elements tended to predominate over the democratic ones. • Vanguard party: A political party that claims to operate in the “true” interests of the group or class it purports to represent, even if this understanding doesn’t correspond to the expressed interests of the group itself. The Communist parties of the Soviet Union and China are good examples of vanguard parties.
The Stalin Revolution • Collectivization: A process undertaken in the Soviet Union under Stalin in the late 1920s and early 1930s and in China under Mao in the 1950s, by which agricultural land was removed from private ownership and organized into large state and collective farms. • Attempts at De-Stalinization • Tacit social contract: An idea put forth by some Western analysts that an unwritten informal understanding existed between the population and the party/state in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union, which helped form the basis of social and political stability; the implicit agreement involved citizens granting political compliance with Soviet rule in exchange for benefits such as guaranteed employment, free social services, a lax work environment, and limited interference in personal life.
Perestroika and Glasnost • Perestroika: The policy of restructuring embarked on by Gorbachev when he became head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985. Initially, the policy emphasized decentralization of economic decision making, increased enterprise autonomy, expanded public discussion of policy issues, and a reduction in the international isolation of the Soviet economy. Over time, restructuring took on a more political tone, including a commitment to glasnost and demokratizatsiia. • Glasnost: Gorbachev’s policy of “openness” or “publicity,” which involved an easing of controls on the media, arts, and public discussion, leading to an outburst of public debate and criticism covering most aspects of Soviet history, culture, and policy.
Perestroika and Glasnost (continued) • Demokratizatsiia: The policy of democratization identified by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 as an essential component of perestroika. The policy was part of a gradual shift away from a vanguard party approach toward an acceptance of liberal democratic norms. Initially, the policy embraced multicandidate elections and a broadening of political competition within the Communist Party itself; after 1989, it involved acceptance of a multiparty system. • Law-based state: A state where the rule of law prevails, so that actions of the government as well of nongovernmental actors are subject to the requirements of the law. The creation of a law-based state in the Soviet Union was one of the explicit goals of Gorbachev’s reform process, thus limiting the ability of state agencies or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union arbitrarily to circumvent laws or legal provisions.
The Soviet Economic System • Market reform: A strategy of economic transformation embraced by the Yeltsin government in Russia and the Deng Xiaoping government in China that involves reducing the role of the state in managing the economy and increasing the role of market forces. In Russia, market reform is part of the transition to postcommunism and includes the extensive transfer of the ownership of economic assets from the state to private hands. In China, market reform has been carried out under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and involves less extensive privatization. • Shock therapy: A variant of market reform that involves the state simultaneously imposing a wide range of radical economic changes, with the purpose of “shocking” the economy into a new mode of operation. Shock therapy can be contrasted with a more gradual approach to market reform.
The Soviet Economic System (continued) • Joint-stock company: A business firm whose capital is divided into shares that can be held by individuals, groups of individuals, or governmental units. In Russia, formation of joint-stock companies has been the primary method for privatizing large state enterprises. • Privatization voucher: A certificate worth 10,000 rubles issued by the government to each Russian citizen in 1992 to be used to purchase shares in state enterprises undergoing the process of privatization. Vouchers could also be sold for cash or disposed of through newly created investment funds.
The Soviet Economic System (continued) • Insider privatization: A term used in relation to Russia to refer to the transformation of formerly state-owned enterprises into joint-stock companies or private enterprises in which majority control of the enterprise is in the hands of employees and/or managers of that enterprise. • Oligarchs: A small group of powerful and wealthy individuals who gained ownership and control of important sectors of Russia’s economy in the context of the privatization of state assets in the 1990s.
The Soviet Economic System (continued) • Mafia: A term borrowed from Italy and widely used in Russia to describe networks of organized criminal activity that pervade both economic and governmental securities in that country and activities such as the demanding of protection money, bribe taking by government officials, contract killing, and extortion. • Pyramid debt: A situation when a government or organization takes on debt obligations at progressively higher rates of interest in order to pay off existing debt. In some cases, a structure of pyramid debt can result in a default on the entire debt obligation if interest owed becomes unmanageable.
Basics of Russian “Privatization” • Spontaneous privatization that began in the glasnost years and continued into the 90s (no legal basis for it, but managers and workers in small and mid-sized state enterprises, especially in service areas, started transforming their workplaces into private businesses keeping the same managers and workers with state owned equipment and buildings producing private profits)
Large-Scale Privatizations of the 90s • Vouchers given to Russian citizens (caused as much confusion and froud as they did chances to invest) • Fire sale prices of stock offered to managers of state enterprises • 51% of stock sold this way • Much of the money came from company treasuries • Some came from Communist party assets (CP was owner of banks, stores, tourist agencies) • Foreign investors • Major capital flight.... Huge deposits in swiss banks at the same time as IMF was making massive loans to the Russian government and foreign companies were investing
Economic Crash • End of the 1990s (1998) was the economic crash • Government defaulted on loans • Stock market crashed • Ruble crashed (hyperinflation) • IMF made more loans and imposed a Structural Adjustment Policy • Since 2000, economic recovery, in large part fueled by rising oil prices…
The Soviet State • Autonomous republic: A territorial unit in the Soviet Union that was a constituent unit of the union republic within which it was located. Autonomous republics were populated by a large national (ethnic) group, after which the autonomous republic was generally named. They enjoyed little actual autonomy in the Soviet period. Once Russia adopted its new constitution in 1993, those autonomous republics within Russian territory became constituent units (now called republics) of the Russian Federation. • Krai: One of the six territorial units in the Russian Federation that are defined by the constitution of 1993 to be among the eighty-nine members of the federation, with a status equal to that of the republics and oblast. Like the oblasts during the Soviet period, the krai were defined purely as territorial-administrative units within a particular union republic of the Soviet Union. A krai differed from an oblast in that part of its border was on an external boundary of the USSR or it included a mixture of diverse ethnic territories (or both). Generally a krai is a geographically large unit, but relatively sparsely populated.
The Soviet State (continued) • Oblast: One of forty-nine territorial units in the Russian Federation defined by the constitution of 1993 to be among the eighty-nine members of the federation, with a status equal to that of the republics and krai. An oblast generally lacks a non-Russian national/ethnic basis. During the Soviet period, the oblasts were defined purely as territorial-administrative units located within a particular union republic of the Soviet Union. • Okrug: One of ten territorial units in the Russian Federation that are defined by the constitution of 1993 to be among the eighty-nine members of the federation with a status equal to that of the republics, oblasts, and krai. An okrug generally was originally formed due to the presence of a non-Russian national/ethnic group residing in the territory. Alongside their status as equal units of the Russian Federation, most of the okrugs are physically located within and constituent parts of an oblast or krai. This situation has created ambiguity regarding the relationship between the okrug and the oblast or krai they are located in.
1993 Constitution • 1993 with the economic/political crisis, Yeltsin dissolved the legislature, called for new elections, month long struggle, arrested opposition leaders, new constitution • Approved even though opposition won majority in elections…. • Presidential Republic
Executive Powers • President is directly elected for a 4-yr term in a two-ballot system (like France), 2004 last election, max two terms, but then Putin proposed no term limits… • Appoints Prime Minister and cabinet, with Duma approval • President has own staff of advisors, can issue decrees that have force of law unless countermanded by the Duma • Can declare a state of emergency • Power ministries (defense, foreign affairs, interiors, State Security Bureau—new KGB) all responsible to the president and part of his Sec Council • Security Council (Prime Minister, Finance minister, heads of legislative bodies, etc)
Executive Power (cont) • Dissolve the Duma and call for new elections • Veto acts passed by the legislature
Nomenklatura • Special section of the communist party bureaucracy that kept track of everyone worth keeping track of that was supervised by the Politburo. They gathered information about people from teachers, supervisors, military officers, party cadres and anyone who could evaluate a person`s abilities and loyalties. If the information on you was favorable enough, you were recruited and placed on the nomenklatura lists • The nomenklatura provided people for important jobs with the Party, in government or in a govt enterprise, sometimes it helped to have a patron to choose your name from the list, you needed to be a loyal follower (client) • Combination of authoritarian control and patron-client politics • In spite of the elite turnover, the people running most things in Russia today are products of the nomenklatura system
Political elite • Russia today is being run by the people selected by the old Soviet system that valued obedience and loyalty to those above you. Putin reinforces that same theme • New routes to power through electoral politics, business and technology • Nomenklatura system less important, patron-client relationships are more important
The National Bureaucracy • Clientelism (or patron-client networks): An informal aspect of policymaking in which a powerful patron (for example, a traditional local boss, government agency, or dominant party) offers resources such as land, contracts, protection, or jobs in return for the support and service (such as labor or votes) of lower-status and less powerful clients: corruption, preferential treatment, and inequality are characteristic of clientelist politics. • Siloviki: Derived from the Russian word “sil,” meaning “force.” Russian politicians and government officials drawn from security and intelligence agencies (such as the Soviet KGB or its contemporary counterpart, the FSB), special forces, or the military, many of whom were recruited to important political posts under Vladimir Putin.
Subnational Government • Asymmetrical federalism: A system of governance in which political authority is shared between a central government and regional or state governments, but where some subnational units in the federal system have greater or lesser powers than others. • Power vertical: A term used by Vladimir Putin to describe a unified and hierarchical structure of executive power ranging from the federal level to the local level, which can be reinforced by various mechanisms such as appointments by higher level officials and oversight of activities by higher organs over lower ones.
The Legislature • Civil society: Refers to the space occupied by voluntary associations outside the state, for example, professional associations (lawyers, doctors, teachers), trade unions, student and women’s groups, religious bodies, and other voluntary association groups. The term is similar to society, although civil society implies a degree of organization absent from the more inclusive term society.
Creating a new political culture • Tsarist times, govt legitimacy divine designation of Tsar as creator of society and protector of the faith • Soviet times, govt legitimacy ideology, egalitarianism, technological, industrial, military achievements, rising standard of living in the 1980s • Today, legitimacy based on creation of a rule of law and representative govt, promise of economic prosperity
Civil Society • How do you create a political culture that is diff from what existed in the past? • Neither tsars nor communist leaders recognized civil liberties, people weren`t citizens, subjects! • Oligarchic autocracy, strict censorship, secret police, enforced uniformity of thought, intrusive state • Beginnings of civil society, non-political groups are common and tolerated, but human rights, environmental or other groups with hints of politics are likely to be investigated and restricted. • Political culture is in flux as is economic culture… • Is Putin a reformer? • Will growth be adequate to support political stability? Will distribution of income contribute to the growth of a middle class? Will rule of law become powerful enough to guarantee property and contract rights? Will Russians stand up for their own civil liberties or will they sacrifice them for economic prosperity? (new tacit social contract)
Appearances CAN be deceiving • Potemkin Village (pretentiously showy or imposing façade intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition • When Catherine the Great used to cruise the Volga River she would view picturesque well-built, tidy houses and shops with villagers happy engaged in commerce, but just beyond her sight was poverty and misery. These were a moveable false village set up along her route to give her a satisfying, but false experience of her dominions. • What Potemkin Villages exist in Russia today? Find one…
Elections • Proportional representation (PR): A system of political representation in which seats are allocated to parties within multimember constituencies, roughly in proportion to the votes each party receives. PR usually encourages the election to parliament of more political parties than single-member-district winner-take-all systems. • Single-member plurality (SMP) electoral district: An electoral system in which candidates run for a single seat from a specific geographic district. The winner is the person who receives the most votes, whether or not that is a majority. SMP systems, unlike systems of proportional representation, increase the likelihood that two national coalition parties will form.
Russian Politics in Comparative Perspective • Conditionality: The requirement that certain commitments be made by receiving governments in exchange for credits or other types of assistance provided by international or foreign agencies, to assure that the goals of the donor agency are respected.