Political Elites and the New Russia: The Power Basis of Yeltsin's and Putin's Regimes

Political Elites and the New Russia: The Power Basis of Yeltsin's and Putin's Regimes

Political Elites and the New Russia: The Power Basis of Yeltsin's and Putin's Regimes

Political Elites and the New Russia: The Power Basis of Yeltsin's and Putin's Regimes

Synopsis

This work analyses the role of elites under Yeltsin and Putin, discussing the extent to which they form a coherent political culture, and how far this culture has been in step with, or at odds with, the reform policies of the Kremlin leadership.

Excerpt

Seminal events, like major wars, the demise of empires and the fall of powerful regimes shape new historical epochs. The fall of communism represents such a change of epoch that not only affects those who were directly involved in the previous Soviet dominated area but have universal significance. We have now just started to envisage the consequences of restructuring the world political sphere from ideological confrontations to the politics of handling uncertainties in which weakened post-communist state power is seeking new forms of legitimacy. In this continuously more pluralised world the ruling elites need a political foundation that goes deeper than formal institutions and power instruments. Only internalised values among the broader leadership provide the basis for a minimum level of political integration and joint actions, and this is what this book is about. Using Russia as a case, the purpose is to analyse the emerging post-communist political culture among the elites, and I will also discuss its causes, how it is forged by past legacies and new policy visions, and what consequences elite orientations have for the emerging Russian state.

During 1989–90 I became involved in a wave of events following the breakdown of the Soviet Union. My first interest and concern was the struggle for independence of the three Baltic states that had been occupied by the Soviet Union a generation before. The regained independence and the reorientation of these states towards democracy and market economy spurred a still ongoing project on Baltic elites. While these small states feel close, the most nearby resident is the Russian Federation with whom Norway shares a common border in the north. During the long period of the 'iron curtain' this border was completely closed but has in the new epoch of post-communist Russia become a door for mutual exchange between our societies.

Although relations in the North are important for coping with common regional problems the main objective of this study is broader and hopefully provides a better understanding of what goes on among Russian national and regional elites more generally and what policy trajectories the elites may stimulate or obstruct. Obviously, their orientations and behaviour, their 'political culture', have consequences for Norwegian–Russian relations and . . .

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