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Tension between Reconstitution and Reconcentration

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The Development of the Party System (the July 2001 Party Law)

Stated aim Practical outcome
  • the development of a viable multi-party system
  • establishing a smaller number of more effective parties


  • the restrictions on the type of parties allowed
  • the extremely high entry costs
  • the excessive bureaucracy in registration procedures
  • the close management of the election process
  • the sphere of party politics became manageable

The Development of Civil Society

Stated aim Practical outcome
  • Civic Chamber, comprised of 126 representatives of civil society, was set up in 2005 to provide a new superstructure for community organizations

  • the organization was given direct access to federal policymakers

  • its brief was to provide expert advice on key state decisions and new legislation of national importance

  • civil society organizations were often treated with suspicion by the authorities

  • in 2005, stricter regulations of NGOs were introduced

  • NGOs had to re-register with the Ministry of Justice and to provide regular financial reports

  • human rights groups were accused of having links with organized crime and working for "the West's money"

  • the "spy rock" diplomatic scandal (January 2006) between Britain and Russia was used as a justification for tougher regulation of NGOs

  • community activism was faced with a choice: either operating within the framework of the new Civic Chamber, or ceasing their activities


Challenges Facing President Medvedev

  • by the time Putin left the presidency in 2008 democracy in Russia was far from consolidated
  • the diagnosis of its health ranges from “democratic evolution” (optimists) to “failed transition” and “derailed democracy” (pessimists)
  • Putin’s personality-led system of governance is unsustainable in the long run
  • Medvedev will either have to allow greater political pluralism, or make a radical turn towards overt authoritarianism
  • Medvedev’s early rhetoric suggests that he prefers the former path


  • Afanasiev, Yury (2009) ‘The End of Russia?’ (accessed 6 February 2009).

  • Hedlund, Stefan (2006) ‘Vladimir the Great, Grand Prince of Muscovy: Resurrecting the Russian Service State’, Europe-Asia Studies, 58:5, 775 – 801.

  • Malia, M. (1999) Russia under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum (Cambridge, MA, Belknap).

  • Pipes, R. (1974) Russia under the Old Regime (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons).

  • Sakwa, Richard (2008) 'Putin's Leadership: Character and Consequences', Europe-Asia Studies, 60:6, 879 — 897.

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The Putinite Order

Learn Russian with Us

Russian Federation

The "Catching up" Cycles
"Non-organic" Reforms
Great Leap to Capitalism
Russia's Privatization
Deformed Capitalism
Coping with Transition
The Yeltsin Era
Yeltsin's Legacy
Putin's Plan
Russian Federalism
The Chechen Problem
"Deprivatizing" the State
First and Second Dumas
Third and Fourth Dumas
Civil Society
"Controlled" Democracy

Post-Soviet Geopolitics

Paradoxes of Russian Mentality
Economy under Putin
The Putinite Order
Putin's Choice
People Speak (Opinion Polls)
Tables and Statistics

Russia from A to Z

Images & Video