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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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Dmitrij Furman - 2008. New Alternatives in Russian History - 135

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Dmitrij Furman 2008. New Alternatives in Russian History In the history of a country, as well as in a biography of an individual, long periods when there are little or no chances to change the key parameters of existence take turns with shorter periods when random combinations of circumstances and a free choice of people can define these parameters for many years ahead. In the history of Russia, the period of “reorganisation” was one of these periods, when much depended on personal and casual factors. The year of 1991 was prob- ably the richest in alternatives: it was the year when Yeltsin was elected president of Russia, the year of the failed putsch of the GKCHP, and the year in which both the allied and Belovezhsky agreements were signed. Certainly, even during such critical epochs, the range of pos- sible parameters for the future life of a country is not boundless. I think that in 1991 Russia had no chance of returning to “Soviet power” and socialism and little chance to choose a way that could have led quickly to the construction of a consolidated democracy with a rota- tion of different political elites and parties, as happened in the Baltic and Central European countries. But the range of possibilities was all the same enormous – from the preservation of the Union in another form for 10 or more years, to a bloody war between republics as in Yugoslavia, and, for Russia alone, from almost a democracy with a dominating...

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