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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 - Liberal Opposition Under Authoritarianism - 199

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Galina Michaleva Liberal Opposition Under Authoritarianism Regime Changes and Institutional Conditions for the Opposition in Russia The logic of development of a “fake democracy”, i.e. an authoritarian state with the formal presence of democratic institutions is related to the deconsolidation of democratic institutions and their delegiti- mization in public opinion. The results of elections become predict- able and are principally not changeable. In order to strengthen its position, the ruling group creates a system of shielding mechanisms and includes a propaganda machine This creates local and fractional repressions of those people who represent a real or potential (even weak) danger to the ruling system. To ensure the compliance of rep- resentatives of the political and business elite, ruling powers organ- ize staged repressions and create external and internal enemies to justify such actions. Such actions are authorized by a state-controlled judicial authority. At the same time, blocking legitimate ways of regime change leads to intensified latent conflicts and an increased pressure on a society and stimulates the emergence of still very weak forms of resistance. Democracy as a transitional solution1 ceases to satisfy the domi- nant actor who strives to strengthen his position. Even democratic institutions established and guaranteed by the Constitution begin to fade away. Competition vanishes from the election process. “Dele- gate,” “defective,” limited, monitored, fake democracy is replaced with apparent authoritarian formations. Furthermore, applying Sartori’s 1 Пршеворский А., Демократия и рынок: политические и экономические реформы в Восточной Европе и Латинской Америке. М., 1999. pp. 92–93. 200 Galina Michaleva criteria for the identification of authoritarian and totalitarian systems2 in our...

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