Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia

Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia

Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia

Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia

Synopsis

'Dr. Jeffrey Kahn's admirable and thoroughly researched study offers invaluable materials and insights on what has been transpiring in the world of Russian federalism (and beyond) from the earliest Soviet days to the present, with particular emphasis and depth on the post-Soviet decade.' William E. Butler, Michigan Law Review'I have not seen a better account, or a more perceptive one, in any language.' William E. Butler, Michigan Law Review'Kahn's study is the best and most thoughtful account available of the early experience.' William E. Butler, Michigan Law ReviewHow has Russia's political elite struggled to build a federal system of government out of the rubble of the Soviet empire'and This ground-breaking book examines the public debates, official documents, and political deals that built Russia's federal house, and analyses the strength of its troubled foundation.

Excerpt

I am certain that there is no simple causal relationship between federalism and freedom.

William Riker

What is the relationship between federalism, democracy and the rule of law? It has frequently been asserted, first, that federal government is possible in a non-democratic regime, and second, that this holds true even when fundamental legal principles are absent. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is cited as the classic example of such a state structure. I dispute the validity of these theoretical and empirical assertions. Like a Potemkin village—the fabled sham settlements built by the Empress Catherine's favourite minister to deceive foreigners touring her conquered lands—the Soviet Union was a federal façade that hardly masked the most centralized state in modern history. This façade has had tremendous repercussions for the subject of this book: the development of post-Soviet Russian federalism. Unlike Potemkin's false fronts, so quickly dismantled once his paramour had passed by with her court, the institutional and conceptual architecture of Soviet 'federalism' was not so easily deconstructed following the collapse of the Soviet monolith. The keystone republic of the Soviet Union and its acknowledged successor—the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR)—was itself a multi-national state partially comprised of a score of so-called 'Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics', (ASSRs). When the Soviet Union collapsed, the RSFSR retained the fundamentals of the old Soviet superstructure, building the new Russian Federation upon its crumbling foundations. The magnitude of such an undertaking is difficult to conceive: a new state was built almost overnight in both the real and ideological rubble of the ancien régime.

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