RUSSIA Noah Bowman Kennedy Cook Callie Craighead Jordan Doman Gray Aanestad
Topic Areas • Historical Background • Current Facts • Sovereignty, Authority, and Power • Political and Economic Change • Citizens, Society and the State • Political Institutions • Public Policy
History Timeline 1982: Mikhail Gorbachev tried to westernize and modernize the country through economic reform. 1905: First revolution occurs due to unrest at Tsar Nicholas II. Constitution of 1906 is established and creates a legislature, the Duma. 1922: Renamed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Stalin is named leader after Lenin dies. 1600s: Power is passed down through Romanov Family. 2000: Vladimir Putin becomes president. 1300s: Tsars claimed land from Mongols. Tsars were both political and religious figure, heading the Russian Orthodox Church. 1953: Stalin dies, Nikita Khrushchev took over, denouncing Stalin’s rules and practices in a secret speech. DeStalinization starts. 1721: Tsar Peter the Great claims power and tries to westernize Russia. 1918: Bolshevik Revolution overthrows Tsar. 1991: USSR collapses. In 1993 a new constitution creates the Russian Federation. Boris Yeltsin is president. 2008: Dmitry Medvedev serves as puppet president for Putin. Putin is reelected in 2013.
Current Facts • Consists of 85 federal subjects and 22 republics (including the recently annexed Crimea) • Population: 143.5 million • Capital: Moscow • President: Vladimir Putin • Prime Minister: Dmitry Medvedev • Religion: 16% Russian Orthodox • GINI coefficient: 41.7 • Currency: Rubbles
Sovereignty, Authority, and Power • Russia is considered to be a soft-authoritarian system or an illiberal democracy as it has policies that limit personal freedoms, and the election system is not completely free and fair. • The Constitution of 1993 does give the government legitimacy, This Constitution provided for a strong president, a weaker prime minister, an elected legislature, a Constitutional Court and Supreme Court. It created a dual executive. • The legitimacy of the Constitution has been tested in the past with conflict between the president and the Duma. In recent years, the transitions from president to president have went smoothly, showing that the constitution is much stronger than it was in earlier years. • Read the full text of the constitution here: www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm
Sovereignty, Authority, and Power • Russia has a federal structure, but some states hold more autonomy than others, so it is referred to as asymmetric federalism. • The states are broken own as either: republics, territories, regions, federal cities, autonomous areas, or autonomous regions, and get different levels of freedom based on what they are. For example, Moscow is a federal city, and the North Caucasus is a region. • Under Putin, Russia’s federal system has become more centralized. It can be contrasted to the United Kingdom, which had unitary rule and then devolved power to the states.
Sovereignty, Authority, and Power • The oligarchs in Russia still hold a tremendous amount of power. • Oligarchy started with Gorbachev’s perestroika, with businessmen gaining connections to political elite and importing smuggled goods to sell. • Under Yeltsin, the oligarchy grew due to shock therapy by connecting themselves to governmental officials during a time of free-market reform. • Putin has tried to crack down on the power of oligarchy during his presidency, and has arrested many of them, most notably Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but was recently pardoned by Putin. Read about his arrest: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-12082222 • The nomenklatura elites occupy government positions, and hold great power as well. • The oligarchy is similar to other countries patron-client systems, like prebendalism in Nigeria and the guanxi system in China, where people by gain power by being close to elites.
Sovereignty, Authority and Power Recently, Vladimir Putin has changed the election system by • Ending direct election of governors • Creating super districts with one federal overseer for each district. Putin elects the overseer. • Giving the President the power to remove government officials • Eliminating winner take all districts, making everything proportional representation • Eliminated minority party groups that are regionally popular. These changes shows the immense power that Putin holds, and how he is centralizing the government, giving him more power.
Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have stayed very steady throughout his years of office, suggesting that Russians are used to the authoritarian hold he brings.
Political and Economic Change The tsarists ruled from the 14th century to the early 20th century, starting a tradition of centralized, authoritarian rule. The tsars held absolute rule over the people, and often used force to protect the land from invaders (Huns, Vikings) The chaos from these attempted takeovers lead to the tsars ruling with unchallenged leadership, always keeping their subjects in control. Secret police forces were used by the tsars to capture and execute dissidents. Nicholas II was overthrown with the Bolshevik Revolution. His family was executed.
Political and Economic Change Democratic centralism was brought about by the Revolution of 1917. Democratic centralism is the principle that members can take place in policy discussions and decisions, but once the decision is made everyone must follow it. Karl Marx argued in The Communist Manifesto that socialist revolutions would occur in already developed countries. Marxist Vladimir Lenin argued that a “vanguard” or leadership group would lead a revolution in order to create a better life for the people, even though Russia was not fully developed. Lenin’s followers called themselves the Bolsheviks, and took control of the government in 1917, overthrowing the tsar.
Political and Economic Change Democratic centralism only lasted for a short period of time in which Vladimir Lenin was alive. When Joseph Stalin took over he dramatically changed the principle, making the Communist Party at the center of control, with no competition. This authoritarian principle is called Stalinism. Only 7% of the population was actually part of the Communist Party, and yet it was making decisions for the entire country. The Communist ran every government level, from local to national. Leaders were identified through nomenklatura. Stalin also began a period of collectivization and industrialization. Stalin established collective farms, abolishing private land ownership. His Five Year Plan set out to produce a growing industrial sector.
Political and Economic Change Gorbachev’s Economic and Political Reform • When Mikhail S. Gorbachev stepped onto the world stage as the new leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), then 54, he was significantly younger than the aging party members who had led the Communist superpower in previous decades. Hailing from a younger generation gave Gorbachev a new outlook on the challenges that faced his country. • Russia’s economy was struggling, and its citizens were chafing under their relatively poor standard of living and lack of freedom. Gorbachev took a new approach toward addressing these problems. He introduced a reform program that embodied two overarching concepts: Perestroika “restructuring” • overhaul of the top members of the Communist Party • replacing the centralized government planning (Decentralization) • rationalization of economic structures to enable individual enterprises to increase efficiency and take initiative. Glasnost “openness” • sought to ease the strict social controls imposed by the government • gave greater freedom to the media and religious groups and allowed citizens to express divergent views • (Along with Perestroika and Glasnost, Gorbachev also used Demokratizatsiia“democratization” and “New Thinking” to spur economic growth and bring political renewal)
Political and Economic Change Yeltsin’s Shock Therapy • Despite expectations, Gorbachev’s efforts to reform the economic system were halting and contradictory. The results were declining economic performance, increasing regionalism, and an uncertain economic environment. • In 1992, Boris Yeltsin radical market reform, sometimes referred to as “shock therapy”. Yeltsin devolved power to the states, much like Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain. Changes were rapid and thorough. Although shock therapy would inevitably throw large parts of the economy into a downward spiral, reformers hoped that the recovery would be relatively quick and that citizens would accept short term economic sacrifices in order to achieve longer-term economic benefits. Shock Therapy consisted of four main pillars of reform: • lifting price controls • encouraging small private business • privatizing most state owned enterprises • opening the economy to international enterprises In contrast to the gradual Four Modernizations of Deng Xioaping, (which infused capitalism into the Chinese economy) shock therapy was much more sudden and did produce an oligarchy, leading to political corruption.
Russia’s Economy Now and it’s Future • The state of the economy is about the same as it was in 1980, the peak of the Soviet regime. The economy still relies heavily on oil and gas, accounting for 75% of all exports. The Russian economy prospers when oil prices are high and as of now money is circulating fine. • The Russian economy has a high cost of labor, little to no institutions, and a lack of competition. Companies run by the government, which have no competition, are also a huge problem, as they control about half of the economy.
The Russian economy relies heavily on oil, just like Iran. It is estimated that by 2070 Russia ’s oil and gas revenues could drop drastically from 6,500 billion rubles to under 1,000 billion rubles (in 2013 rubles), and then drop again sometime near 2090.
Citizens, Society and State There are 15 major ethnic groups in Russia, and thus ethnic cleavages have been prominent. • Russian: 80% • Tatar: 3.8% • Ukrainian: 2% • Bashkir: 1.2% • Chuvash: 1.1% • Other 12.1% Russia’s different ethnicities mean that it is a heterogeneous country, quite different from the homogenous country of Great Britain. Religion is not a main source of conflict, as only 15% of the people are Russian Orthodox, and 15% are Muslim. Most people are atheist as that was promoted during the Sovietera.
Citizens, Society and State Chechnya is a republic located in the North Caucasus region of Russia. The region is predominately Muslim, and feels it has a different identity than the rest of Russia. The Chechens first tried to seek independence in the First Chechen War in 1994 in which guerilla warfare tactics were used. A peace treaty was signed in 1996, giving Chechnya some independence, and ending the war. The independence was short lived, as in 1999 Russian troops took back Chechnya in the Second Chechen War. The conflict in Chechnya still exists today, with terrorist groups wanting independence making public threats against the Russian government, and most notably doing suicide bombings near the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The war in Chechnya is similar to the Biafran Civil War in Nigeria, as both were based off ethnic conflicts. The Chechnya conflict can also be compared to the Tibetan conflict in China, in which both states wanted to become independent.
Citizens, Society and State Young Russians are encouraged to join the United Russia’s elite youth group Nashi, created by the Kremlin in 2005. It is a pro-government, patriotic movement, aiming to train and educate youth. It has about 200,000 members all across Russia. Nashi members participate in rallies, volunteer opportunities, protests, and debates. Critics have stated that the group is just like the Soviet Union group, Komsomol, and argue that it is the Kremlin’s way of controlling the youth and spread their agenda. Supporters say that it is a way for the public to participate and influence government decisions. Watch a Nashi protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKt_2MbPjng
Citizens, Society and State Although the Russian economy has been growing under Putin, poverty has grown in past years, with 13% of the population (18 million people) living in poverty. The current Russian minimum wage is 4,600 rubbles ($155) per month while the cost of living is 6,200 rubbles ($210) per month. Income inequality has been growing as well, with the richest Russians earning 16 times more than the poorest. Vladimir Putin has vowed to work to fix the problem, calling it an “embarrassment” Nigeria is another country facing this issue, with 14 million people living in poverty.
Political Institutions The structure of government was put into place by the Constitution of 1993. A dual executive does exist, with the prime minister holding less power than the president. Russian voters directly elect the president for a four year term, with a limit of two terms that they may serve. The president has the power to: • Appoint the prime minister and cabinet (Duma must approve) • Issue decrees that have the force of law • Dissolve the Duma
Political Institutions Russia has a bicameral legislature just like Great Britain. It is a weak check on the strong executive power. The two houses are: • State Duma • Lower house • Directly elected • Can impeach president with 2/3 majority • 5 year term • 450 deputies • Bills are first approved by Duma then voted on by Federation Council • Half are elected by proportional representation, half by single-member districts. • Federal Council • Upper house • Not directly elected, but chosen by territorial politicians • All federal subjects send two senators for a total of 166. • Chairman of Federation Council is very powerful position, right below prime minister. • Limited powers, but can delay legislation
Political Institutions The Russian judiciary interprets and applies laws to Russia. It consists of multiple courts that have different jobs to check powers. Although independent, the judiciary has a little degree of legitimacy. • The Constitutional Court is responsible for interpreting the constitution. It does have the power of judicial review, just like Great Britain’s Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court has 19 members all appointed by the president and approved by the Federation Council. • A Supreme Court was created, but so far has been very inefficient. It serves as the final court of appeal for criminal and civil cases. • District and Regional courts deal with local law.
Political Institutions •During the communist Russia years there was a single party system dominated by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. •Today Russia has a multiparty system, with thirteen registered parties in 2007. •There are four party tendencies: centrist "parties of power", the left, nationalist/patriotic forces, and liberal/reform forces. •United Russia (Unity) is the dominant political party that rose to power with Vladimir Putin. It is considered Centrist, but it has a poorly defined program. It emphasizes its uniqueness from Russia's approach (separate from the West), values of order and law, and commitment to modern reform. •The Communist Party of Russia, a left party, is one of the only clear oppositions to the United Russia Party in Duma. Primary party concerns are the social costs of the reform process. •A radical party, the National Party, continues to win seats in Duma. The uUnitary Party can be compared to the Communist Party in China, as both receive heavy support by the population, and opposition parties are relatively small.
Public Policy Russia has no recognition of same-sex marriage, as Article 12 of their Family Code rules that marriage is between a man and a woman. The Duma passed a law against “homosexual propaganda towards minors” saying “It is essential to put in place measures which provide for the intellectual, moral and mental well-being of children, including a ban on any activities aimed at popularizing homosexuality … including instilling distorted ideas that society places an equal value on traditional and nontraditional sexual relations.” Discrimination against homosexuals is common. Gay pride rallies and protests are often shut down by the government, and usually lead to violence. Nigeria also has anti-gay laws in place, while Great Britain has recently legalized gay marriage.
Public Policy Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian population has been declining rapidly. The birth rate has been declining and the death rate increasing, leading to a demographic problem. The current population is around 143 million, and in the future is planned to drop to 107 million. Putin addressed this problem by creating policies aimed to help increase the birth rate. He created a policy in which women get paid if they have more than two children. Estimates conclude that this will bring the population up to 154 million in the coming decade. While Russia is trying to increase it’s birth rate, other countries, such as Nigeria have tried to decrease it. Fertility rates: Russia: 1.17 Great Britain: 1.98 China: 1.58 Nigeria: 5.49 Mexico: 2.28 Iran: 1.64
Public Policy Russia does provide universal health care like Great Britain. By 2050, 23% of Russia ’s population will be 65 or older. What this means is more pension payments, lower tax revenues (due to a shrinking working class), and an aging society that spends more on health care. By 2100, healthcare expenditure projections look to be around 25,000 billion rubles.
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