Putin and Putinism

Putin and Putinism

Putin and Putinism

Putin and Putinism

Synopsis

After two terms as president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin handed over to his hand-picked successor Dmitri Medvedev on 7 May 2008, and became prime minister. As president, Putin moved swiftly and effectively to overcome the chaotic legacy of his predecessor, post-Soviet Russia's first president Boris Yeltsin. Focusing on rebuilding the authority of the Russian state, and taking advantage of the rise in world prices of the country's main asset - oil and natural gas - Putin won unassailable popularity at home and caused apprehension around the world, particularly in Russia's immediate neighbourhood. His methods of rule caused anxiety among liberals and democrats inside Russia and abroad. The legacy of Putin's presidency poses challenges that demand interpretation. He has not departed from the Russian or the world political scene, and the need to understand and come to terms with Putin's Russia has not diminished.

These essays by an international team of authors are based on presentations to a working conference held in Naples, Italy, in May 2008, supplemented by contributions from authors who were not present at the conference, in order to present a wider selection of views and interpretations of the Putin phenomenon.

This book was published as a special issue of Communist Studies and Transition Politics.

Excerpt

This book is devoted to the two terms of Vladimir Putin as president of the Russian Federation is based on contributions to a small working conference held in Naples, Italy, on 8–9 May 2008, coinciding precisely with the transfer of the office of president to Dmitrii Medvedev. Papers presented at that conference have been reworked and augmented by further contributions from scholars who were unable to attend, or who were invited to explore dimensions not covered at the conference. It is presented as a collection of views and interpretations of Putin in office from January 2000, when he assumed the position of acting president following the abrupt resignation of his patron, Boris Yeltsin, until his constitutionally required resignation from the post of president in favour of his own chosen successor – endorsed by the electorate on 2 March 2008 – under whose presidency Putin continues to function as prime minister. No attempt was made by the organizers of the conference or the editors of this collection to impose any particular methodological approach or to guide contributors in their analysis or interpretation. The results, therefore, constitute an eclectic range which, it is hoped, will allow readers to gain insight into Putin and his role in developing post-communist Russia to a new stage.

Putin’s achievements and the record of his presidency must be judged according to the legacy that he inherited from his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia, during whose tenure the country experienced one of the most tumultuous decades in its recent history. At the beginning of the 1990s the Soviet Union still existed. It had certainly changed enormously in the five years since Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in March 1985 – indeed, in many ways, the country was barely recognizable. Under pressure of economic slowdown and potential failure, Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika had permitted elements of the market and private enterprise, while glasnost’ had transformed the political scene by allowing freedom of expression to a degree not permitted since the 1920s; democratization had transformed the electoral system and thereby . . .

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