Search

You searched for: Content Type Policy Brief Remove constraint Content Type: Policy Brief Publishing Institution Finnish Institute of International Affairs Remove constraint Publishing Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs Political Geography Russia Remove constraint Political Geography: Russia Topic Democratization Remove constraint Topic: Democratization
Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Following Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory in March 2012, the Russian political system has undergone significant change. The latest changes affect the way regional elections are conducted. However, a number of puzzles remain, not least the intentions of the Putin administration. Alongside liberalising reforms, such as the return of direct elections for regional governors and the easing of party registration requirements, we see new restrictions that close the political field. Nonetheless, the events of the past 20 months do reveal a distinct change in the reform process, as the Putin administration reluctantly adjusts to unfavourable political and economic conditions. In Putin's first two presidential terms, 2000-2008, reform was 'progressive', aimed at extending the Kremlin's power and authority. The latest changes, in contrast, are 'reactive' and involve an inevitable loss of control over political processes. One immediate implication is that political processes will become less predictable, as the Kremlin tries to reorganise its system of governance. But, in the longer-term there is a danger that the use of political reform as a substitute for democratic change will undermine the legitimacy of the entire political system.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Markku Lonkila
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Social media played an important role in the Moscow opposition demonstrations in December 2011, functioning both as an alternative arena for public debate and as a tool for mobilising the protests. In a matter of months, the political atmosphere in the country changed and the legitimacy of the Russian power vertical was called into question. Even before the Duma elections in 2011, social media had turned into an alternative forum for political debate in Russia. These media frayed the image of United Russia and Vladimir Putin, politicised new audiences, and helped to form both a collective 'anti' identity and networks among the protesters. The reports of the falsification of the Duma elections circulated through social media channels and exploded into anger on the part of the betrayed voters. Social media were put to good effect when making the practical arrangements for the protests, such as financing the street demonstrations and recruiting participants. Albeit crucial in mobilising discontent, social media is less well-suited to building lasting political structures. In the longer run, the conflict-torn opposition has to transform the protests into offline organisations and decide, among other things, who can represent the street protesters in negotiations with the power-holders. Imposing strict internet control in Russia does not seem likely since the Russian urban middle class is accustomed to seeking information and expressing itself freely on the net. Removing this freedom would lead to an increase in anti-government sentiments and the intensification of protests in big Russian cities.
  • Topic: Democratization, Science and Technology, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The return of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president and the probable end of Dmitri Medvedev's modernization project will increase the alienation within German-Russian relations. Germany's modernization partnership with Russia has produced limited results because the two sides have different views on the cooperation. While the German side wants to develop common projects of good practice which will modernize the Russian economy and politics, the Russian side is interested in technology transfer. The interest in and knowledge of Russia among German decision-makers is decreasing. Germany lacks vision and concepts on how to influence developments in Russia. This is also due to the resistance of the current Russian elite towards implementing political reforms. As a result, Russia is losing its most important advocate in the EU (also regarding energy policy). This will have a negative impact on EU-Russia relations because the EU lacks leadership on Russia. Ongoing changes in Russian society, which challenge the Putin system, will present an opportunity to find new allies in Russia for cooperation and modernization, which may increase Germany's interest in its large neighbour. But this will call for a more balanced approach between the Russian elites and society in Germany's Russia policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Social Stratification, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: If Russia is to follow an evolutionary path to democracy, then the regime must be ready to draw the so-called 'non-systemic' opposition into political processes. This gradualist formula for democratic change is also the formula for political stability. A number of liberalising reforms conducted by the regime in response to widespread protests following the December 2011 State Duma election gave grounds for optimism that this process is now underway. However, any hopes that these events would kick-start democratic reforms were short-lived. Rather than draw in opponents, the regime has sought to isolate them, using a combination of reform, non-reform, dividing tactics and repression. But the results have not been positive. The non-systemic opposition is under increasing pressure, having seen its options all but reduced to more protesting. It is also showing signs of radicalisation. At the same time, the Kremlin's uncompromising approach is undermining regime stability. The pressure is building in the Russian political system. The combination of repression and radicalisation could easily see political stagnation degenerate into instability and the EU should take this new dynamic into account in its future policy planning.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Democratization, Government, Political Economy, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Transport is one of those few topics where the EU and Russia seem to have come to an agreement. The common understanding is that further integration of the transport systems and the removal of bottle necks serves the interests of both parties in the face of the expected increase in traffic volumes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Alexander Golts
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Contrary to the traditional behaviour during the election period, the Russian government is risking irritating the security ministries and agencies by conducting extremely painful reforms in the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. However, the authorities cannot avoid such reforms because of the total inefficiency of these two “power ministries”. In the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, the Defence Ministry decided to carry out the most radical military reform undertaken in Russia over the past 100 years. However, it is still unclear whether the reformers will be able to resolve the main problem concerning the military construction – the repeal of conscription. In contrast to the Armed Forces, the reform of the Ministry of the Interior does not even touch the major deficiencies in the law enforcement agencies, namely their centralization, lack of public control, and the prevalence of repressive functions over protection of citizens. The ongoing reform is merely a great purge. The country's leadership believes that by firing corrupt police officers, it can solve the problem of corruption in general. The reform of the Security Council and the rejection of any reform of the Ministry of the Interior troops is a prescription for possible public unrest rather than an attempt to improve inter-agency coordination. The genuine reason for these reforms is the complete exhaustion of Prime Minister Putin's model of organizing the security forces. Yet, the next president will need their complete loyalty because of the real possibility of public unrest in the next few years.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi, Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The political system that Vladimir Putin established during the first decade of the 2000s is often referred to as 'the power vertical'. The term suggests a stable, streamlined and effective centre-led system. Yet, this image does not quite correspond with Russian reality. The system creates inefficiency, encourages corruption and is hostile towards bottom-up political initiative. The current leadership acknowledges that Russian stability is on shaky ground and therefore the system is in need of modernization. The economy is clearly a priority for the leadership: it believes that the political system's modernization should emerge gradually and in a highly controlled fashion from economic achievements. The current system in Russia is hostile to innovation and prone to corruption and therefore Medvedev's modernization plan is unlikely to succeed unless transparency and open competition within the system are considerably enhanced. This will be difficult to achieve because the elite benefits from the current corrupt and non-transparent system where the lines of responsibility are unclear. The West should not expect dramatic changes and radical liberal reforms in Russia. Western actors should, nevertheless, actively support and encourage economic and political reforms in the country and engage with it through international cooperation on specific issues such as anti-corruption policy. By stepping up its engagement with Russia, the West can demonstrate that a prosperous, competitive and modern Russia is also in the interests of the West.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Sirke Mäkinen
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Stability has not been characteristic of the Russian party system: political parties have appeared and disappeared between the federal elections, both politicians and the electorate have changed their affiliation, and legislation regarding political parties and elections has been amended. During the 2000s, the party system has also undergone significant changes. Both the changed political culture and the creation of Putin's power vertical have required – and enabled – a stronger control of the party system by the executive power. We can even argue that the most important actor in the party system is the executive power and, in particular, the presidential administration. The parliamentary tool in the hands of the executive power is the United Russia Party, which received the majority of the seats in the State Duma in the last two elections in 2003 and 2007, and thus ensured a smooth process for adopting the bills prepared by the president, the presidential administration or the government. Economic growth and the popularity of Mr Putin have secured the survival of the current party system as part of the power vertical but now, with the consequences of the economic crisis and with a president more liberal in his rhetoric than his predecessor, there are expectations, and even some signs, of the liberalization of the party system.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Duma election and its results reinforce the prevailing undemocratic trends in Russia. The changes in electoral laws, the election campaign and its biased coverage in the Russian media, the Russian authorities' hostile attitude towards international election observation and the so-called Putin's Plan leave very little hope of democratic pluralism developing in Russia anytime soon. Russia's political system has been built gradually over the years. The system aims at controlling the competition for power and securing the political elite's interests. The system is characterised by non-transparent and manipulated political processes, misleading doublespeak on democratic norms, and the misuse of soft and hard administrative resources. Putin's overwhelming popularity does not compensate for the lack of democratic accountability. Likewise, his possible premiership would not strengthen parliamentarism in Russia because the decision is driven by instrumentalism towards political institutions. Instead, it would create a dangerous precedent for an ad hoc separation of power. Western actors should be more aware that the stability that Putin is often praised for bringing about is not build on solid ground, and they should change their policies accordingly. Promoting democracy – and thus longterm stability – in Russia is in western actors' interests.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia