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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 - Afterword - 221

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Afterword In the 3 years since these articles were written, the tendencies that were stated and analyzed by the authors progressed, being strength- ened by exterior and internal factors. The key events that determined the country’s vector of develop- ment were: – Solving the problem of the “successor” and the gradual transition towards tandem management while preserving the role of the former president, who became the prime minister. – The Five Day War with Georgia and the following recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. – The financial-economic crisis. Russia’s modern political system can already be classified not as tran- sitional, but as an established model with its own logic of internal development. The system’s specific characteristics can be seen more vividly when Russia is compared with post-Soviet countries. During Soviet times, the more independent our government became of soci- ety, the more closed and secretive it became, but under Putin this trend reached proportions greater than that of early Soviet or post- Soviet times, comparable only to that of Stalin. Later, the mystery shrouded in Putin’s “successor” operation gradually transformed into the mystery around the current “dual-rule”. Putin’s “successor” operation and its modern continuation have a lot of elements which are easier explained by a lack of exact plans and undefined goals than by Machiavellian cleverness and secret dealings. The lack of this plan, covered up with illusions of a secret plan, can be explained not only by Putin’s characteristics but also by the situation in which...

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