The Russian Federation: History and Contemporaneity
A deep and thorough understanding of the current problems and the state of the Russian Federation inevitably presupposes at least a cursory look at its past--its inception and development--on the one hand, and, on the other hand, at its present and past through a comparison of the Russian Federation with other federations that have existed and still exist in parallel with it.
To avoid misunderstanding several preliminary remarks are in order about the problems under review. They primarily concern the concept, content, and purpose of federalism as a phenomenon. They also concern the application of federalism in the context of the Russian Federation as a component part of other federations that coexisted and very closely interacted with it for a long time.
The following view of the concept and content of the federal system and federalism, formulated by Richard Nathan and Erik Hoffmann (in Chapter 6) in the process of comparative research, could with certain reservations be adopted as a working conception. "Federalism is a form of government organization that tries to reconcile regional diversity with a certain level of collective unity and that does so in such a way that regional governments play an entirely concrete role."1
The reservations are essentially occasioned, first, by a certain degree of imprecision in the cited definition--it appears that federalism is not so much a "form of government organization" as it is, above all, a form of organization of the state itself and second, by the significant degree of abstractness of the cited definition. It would be more constructive and effective if it incorporated not only the most general theoretical calculations and principles, but also more