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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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Andrey Ryabov - Russian Reforms: The Path of Modernizationor Optimization of the Existing System - 21

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Andrey Ryabov Russian Reforms: The Path of Modernization or Optimization of the Existing System Reforms in Russia have been objects of heated political discussion throughout our country’s post-communist history. The main argu- ment of advocates of reform is usually that no alternatives exist to a certain course. Reforms have been initiated at various times by the Russian government for the last 15 years. Critics of reform claim that in all this time Russia has not moved a step in the direction of a structural economic reform but that the dependency on oil and gas exports has increased. They point out that one of the failures of reform, affecting the country’s development to this day, is the huge economic gap that divides society. The division is between the new elite and the general population; this in turn produces tendencies to hold back social and political dynamics. Opponents of the reforms have advocated other, alternative reforms on more than one occasion, but their suggestions have not been implemented. In the current situation, when the Russian government has stated that its goal is to realize the next phase of market adjustments, the old argument about the substance of reforms has once again become relevant. Also, the first such experience – the monetization of aid services (for certain groups of citizens) – almost ended up as a seri- ous political debacle. Nevertheless, despite the similarities of today’s reforms and those of the 1990s, some key differences remain. Under- standing these differences will help us better understand...

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