Putin: Russia's Choice

Putin: Russia's Choice

Putin: Russia's Choice

Putin: Russia's Choice


The new edition of this extremely well-received political biography of Vladimir Putin builds on the strengths of the first edition to provide the most detailed and nuanced account of the man, his politics and his profound influence on Russian politics, foreign policy and society. New to this edition:

  • analysis of Putin's second term as President
  • more biographical information in the light of recent research
  • detailed discussion of changes to the policy process and the élites around Putin
  • developments in state-society relations including the conflicts with oligarchs such as Khodorkovsky
  • review of changes affecting the party system and electoral legislation, including the development of federalism in Russia
  • details on economic performance under Putin, including more discussion of the energy sector and pipeline politics
  • Russia's relationship with NATO after the 'big bang' enlargement, EU-Russian relations after enlargement, and Russia's relations with other post-Soviet states
  • the conclusion brings us up-to-date with debates over the question of democracy in Russia today and the nature of Putin's leadership and his place in the world.

Putin is essential reading for all scholars and students of Russian politics.


The coming to power of Vladimir Putin at the beginning of the new millennium signalled the onset of yet another period of rapid change. This was not the first time that a new century marked a turning point in Russian development. In 1703 Peter the Great began building St Petersburg and thus signalled the aspiration to modernise the country ‘from above’ along Western lines. His attempt, as Lenin put it, ‘to chase out barbarism by barbaric means’ by establishing the city on the Neva, established a pattern of accelerated modernisation that has been repeated periodically ever since. While modernisation from above provides a mechanism to kick-start development, it tends to foster bureaucratic authoritarianism and inhibit the growth of inclusive government and popular accountability. Putin is a native son of Peter’s city, and Russia’s first emperor is in many ways a model to him. As under Peter, a distinctive pattern of modernisation without modernity has once again emerged. A type of superficial Westernisation in form is created without the critical spirit, pluralism and political diversity that distinguishes Western modernity at its best.

In the early nineteenth century Alexander I brought Russia to the front ranks of the European powers, defeating Napoleon’s Grand Army in 1812 and then, following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, made it part of the Holy Alliance of conservative powers. Various plans for constitutional reform, and debates over how best to Europeanise the country, ended in the defeat of the Decembrist uprising in 1825. The choice thereafter, with exceptions, was to try to modernise within the framework of autocratic government, a combination that collapsed early in the twentieth century. Russia at that time struggled to define its developmental path, torn between various populist, Slavophile and nationalist ideas on the one hand, and Western theories of modernisation on the other. Conservative, liberal and radical movements vied for dominance, with the most radical tendency of all, the Bolsheviks, in the end gaining ascendancy. Vladimir Lenin’s choice in October 1917 was in favour of a non-market and anti-liberal socialist path of modernisation that later, under Joseph Stalin, represented a peculiar mix of Western technical modernisation, again ‘from above’, while rejecting the Western spirit of modernity.

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