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Russian Challenges

Between Freedom and Energy

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Edited By Galina Michaleva and Andrey Ryabov

This book analyses the influence that oil and gas have on various sides of Russia’s contemporary internal and foreign policy. On the one hand, the factor oil and gas enabled the ruling elite to strengthen the state institutions and to stabilize Russia’s political and social system after decades of instability. Relying on the new economic opportunities contributed to the growth of revenues of the mass sections of population, and owing to the increased export of natural fuel resources Russia significantly strengthened its influence on international politics. But on the other hand, authoritarian tendencies increased in politics. The contributions of this book inquire into the gradually declining role of independent actors in relation to the government, and the increasing authority of the elites in power who continue to represent their corporate interests as being national ones.

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Galina Michaleva and Andrey Ryabov - Editorial - 7

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Editorial “Russian Challenges: Between Freedom and Energy”, June 23 2006. That was the name of the conference at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in the summer of 2006, organized by Nicolas Hayoz, professor at the University. The speeches of that conference became the foundation of a collective treatise that is presented here. It seems at first that a lot of changes have occurred in Russia and the world since this conference took place, including the international financial crisis, the drop in energy prices, and the election of a new presi- dent in Russia. But the presented texts have not lost their relevance. The economic structure and political system of Russia have not changed. The main idea of the conference, as well as that of the collective works, was to show that the energy-exporting nature of the economic system during an oil and gas boom resulted in the formation of a vertically integrated political system that is characterized by high stability. Its most distinct trait is a revenue-based economy. Authori- tarian tendencies are increasing in politics; the role of independent actors in relation to the government is gradually declining while the elites in power continue to present their corporate interests as being national ones. In relation to this, most of the articles presented here analyze the influence of the factor of oil and gas on various sides of internal and foreign policy. Russia’s economy still remains absolutely dependent on the export of energy resources, primarily oil and gas. In...

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