Russian Politics and Society

By Richard Sakwa | Go to book overview

Part III

Federalism, regionalism and nationalism

For the republics in Russia, sovereignty came to be equated with federal non-interference in their internal affairs and a degree of economic autonomy. Instead of developing a sustained legal framework for federalism, under Yeltsin a segmented regionalism emerged reflecting not so much the spatial separation of powers but the fragmentation of political authority. Sovereignty claims by regional leaders, including in the republics, gained little support among the non-titular peoples, and even titular groups were divided. Putin sought to achieve the reconstitution of the citizen as the subject of Russian political space by giving substance to the idea of Rossiiskii citizenship - an aim that has been explicit effectively since the end of the nineteenth century. The degree to which the Russian state can serve as a framework for articulating multinational aspirations is as unclear now as it was then. The First World War 'revealed the incapacity of the weakly integrated and underinstitutionalized Tsarist state to stretch - in Benedict Anderson's neat formulation - “the short, tight skin of the nation over the gigantic body of the empire” (p. 84)'. 1

The existence of Russia in its present borders is questioned. Gorbachev, who perhaps did more than anyone to make possible the break-up of the USSR even though he did all that he could to avert the disintegration of the state that he had committed himself to reform, questioned the viability of Russia on its own. As he put it:

increasingly, the Russian people understand they were deceived…the press and television in Russia try to convince people that what is needed today, above all, is to think about 'how to live in Russia'. But in fact the very question of 'how to live in Russia' involves the question of what to do about integration, how to arrange relations with other member states of the CIS. 2

These are the problems that we shall begin to explore in this Part.

-201-

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Russian Politics and Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures ix
  • Tables x
  • Preface to the Third Edition xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Note on Style, Spelling and Transliteration xiv
  • Glossary of Acronyms, Acrostics and Terms xv
  • Part I - The Fall of Communism and the Rebirth of Russia 1
  • 1: Soviet Communism and Its Dissolution 3
  • 2: The Disintegration of the Ussr 27
  • Part II - Political Institutions and Processes 43
  • 3: The New Constitutional Order 45
  • 4: Law and Society 72
  • 5: The Executive 98
  • 6: The Legislature 125
  • 7: Electoral Politics 140
  • 8: Party Development 172
  • Part III - Federalism, Regionalism and Nationalism 201
  • 9: Federalism and the State 203
  • 10: Regional and Local Politics 224
  • 11: National Identity and State-Building 254
  • Part IV - Economy and Society 277
  • 12: Marketising the Economy 279
  • 13: Society and Social Movements 305
  • 14: Cultural Transformation 331
  • Part V - Foreign Policies 347
  • 15: Foreign Policy 349
  • 16: Commonwealth, Community and Fragmentation 375
  • 17: Defence and Security Policy 396
  • Part VI - Dilemmas of Democratisation 423
  • 18: Problems of Transition 425
  • 19: Pluralism, Elites, Regime and Leadership 445
  • 20: Democracy in Russia 463
  • Notes 475
  • Select Bibliography 524
  • Index 527
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