Russian Politics and Society

By Richard Sakwa | Go to book overview

10Regional and local politics

In every age justice has been called the keystone of the social edifice. By acting towards each other justly, the citizens maintain the condition of trustfulness and friendship which is the basis of an unforced and fruitful co-operation; by acting with justice towards each and all, the public authority wins the confidence and respect which render it effective.

(Bertrand De Jouvenal) 1

Regional politics are extremely diverse, both in type of governmental system and in regime characteristics. Most republics have a president, whereas most oblasts have a governor. The legislative bodies in each region (the collective term we shall use to describe Russia's eighty-nine federal units) are also composed in diverse ways and have different powers, stipulated by regional constitutions and charters. As for the political characteristics, some regions are relatively democratic, whereas in others authoritarian regimes have emerged. All took advantage of the weakness of the centre under Yeltsin to seize powers and a degree of sovereignty that in certain cases posed a threat to the continued existence of the Russian state. Instead of an effectively integrated federal system, a type of segmented regionalism emerged. Yeltsin managed regional affairs by a mix of concessions and personal contacts, whereas under Putin regional laws and statutes were made to conform with the Russian constitution, and normative acts and powers of regional actors in national politics were curbed. The debate continues over whether Putin's reforms represented the development of federalism or its repudiation in favour of traditional Russian centralism. Local government, meanwhile, remained a relatively neglected area, over-shadowed by the powerful regional bosses and limited by inadequate funding.


The organisation of power

Yeltsin-style authoritarianism never quite developed into full-blown dictatorship but equally never quite submitted itself to popular accountability and constitutional and legal restraints. The phenomenon was replicated at the regional level. An extremely heterogeneous pattern of regime types emerged, ranging from the relatively democratic in Novgorod, Arkhangel'sk, Samara and St Petersburg, to the outright authoritarian in Primorskii (Maritime) krai under Yevgenii Nazdratenko and Kalmykia under president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. There was also diversity in types of state-political structure. Udmurtia was a parliamentary republic (until a referendum in early 2000), Tatarstan was a fully fledged presidential republic,

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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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