Show Less
Restricted access

Consequences of Informal Autonomy

The Case of Russian Federalism

Alexander Libman

The book is the first to provide a systematic overview of the interplay of formal and informal institutions as elements of the Russian federalism from the early 1990s to the mid-2010s. It discusses the crucial role of informal power structures and practices in the relations between the center and the regions in Russia, which survived the centralization policy of the Putin government. Using econometric large-N analysis and a set of novel quantitative indicators, the book shows that persistence of informal autonomy in Russia has mostly harmful consequences for the political development of the regions, contributing to the consolidation and strengthening of sub-national autocracies.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

3. Three eras of Russian federalism


← 44 | 45 →

3.  Three eras of Russian federalism

The twenty-five years of post-Soviet Russian political history have been characterized by substantial changes in the way Russian federalism has functioned. In most cases, these changes were associated with both formal and informal aspects of the center-region relations. The famous Churchill’s quote ‘Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ (Churchill 1939) can well be paraphrased for the history of the Russian federalism: occasionally a formally decentralized political organization hides a de-facto centralized structure, which in turn is a smokescreen for informal decentralization. It seems reasonable to split the history of the Russian federalism into three periods, which will also guide our investigation in what follows. Each was characterized by a distinct model of center-region relations, which determines both the aspects of informal autonomy one has to look at and the specific quantitative indicators one has to use to measure the informal autonomy. In this Chapter, we provide the overall summary of the development of each of the periods.

3.1  Early 1990s: Chaos and bargaining

The Soviet Union’s formal organization included multiple levels of autonomous regions and territories. The Union itself consisted of fifteen union republics; five of them (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia) also included lower-level ethnic territories, which were claimed to enjoy some level of autonomy; five (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) were also subdivided into administrative units without any autonomy status (oblast and krai), some of...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.