Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance

Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance

Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance

Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance

Synopsis

Has the Russian state managed to lay the institutional groundwork for long-term stability and democratic governance? In Building the Russian State, Valerie Sperling assembles a group of cutting-edge scholars to critically assess the crises in Russia's transitional institutions. Part I of the book shows that Russia's political elites are less focused on serving public interests than on enriching themselves, and examines how these elites are ruling Russia. Part II focuses on the growth of organized crime, the decay of the military, the precariousness of the Russian Federation, the weakness of the labor movement, the corruption of the courts, the challenges facing international reformers, and the authoritarianism of the super-presidential political system. By focusing on the challenges, failures, and occasional successes of the Russian political system, this volume offers upper-level undergraduates and other scholars valuable insight into post-Soviet politics, state-building, and transitions to democracy.

Excerpt

The chapters in this volume began as papers for the 1998-1999 John M. Olin Critical Issues Series, "Building the Russian State: Institutions and Capacity," held at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian Studies. The yearly series, as well as the publication of the volume arising from it, are supported by generous funding from the John M. Olin Foundation. As the chairperson of this year's series, I am grateful to all the speakers who contributed their knowledge and expertise, and also to those who attended the seminars and helped the authors of the chapters in this volume shape and refine their arguments.

I would particularly like to thank Tim Colton, director of the Davis Center, and Lis Tarlow, associate director, for asking me to serve as chair, and for their support of my goals for this year's series. Linda Kitch provided efficient administrative assistance, enabling the series to run smoothly. Rob Williams at Westview Press was instrumental in endorsing the concept for this volume and working to ensure its timely publication. Joyce Wilson, the copyeditor, brought the chapters into line with Westview's specifications in a speedy and good-humored fashion.

As editor, I have tried to hold the chapters in this volume to a difficult standard: one of scholarship that is specialized without being esoteric; accessible to undergraduates, yet also of interest to experts on Russia. If I have succeeded in this venture, it is only because I had the support of friends, family, my steady sweetheart, and those mentioned above, especially the series authors, who met and exceeded my rigorous standards.

Valerie Sperling . . .

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