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Russia: The Challenges of Transformation

Piotr Dutkiewicz
Dmitri Trenin
Foreword by Craig Calhoun
Afterword by Vladimir I. Yakunin
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 509
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In Russia, a group of leading Russian intellectuals and social scientists join with top researchers from around the world to examine the social, political, and economic transformation in Russia. This timely and important book of original essays makes clear that neither politics nor economics alone holds the key to Russia's future, presenting critical perspectives on challenges facing Russia, both in its domestic policies and in its international relations. It also explores how global order - or disorder - may develop over the coming decades.Contributors include: Oleg Atkov, Timothy J. Colton, Georgi Derluguian, Mikhail K. Gorshkov, Leonid Grigoriev, Nur Kirabaev, Andrew C. Kuchins, Bobo Lo, Roderic Lyne, Vladimir Popov, Alexander Rahr, Richard Sakwa, Guzel Ulumbekova, Vladimir I. Yakunin, Rustem Zhangozha.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8501-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Craig Calhoun

    For seventy years, Western policy makers and social scientists obsessed anxiously over the Soviet threat. For twenty years after the collapse of the USSR they have underestimated the importance of Russia. It is time to move past both exaggerated anxiety and relative neglect. Likewise, since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russian intellectuals themselves have vacillated between overstated assertions of the country’s power and importance, and insecure catalogs of unfavorable international comparisons highlighting its weaknesses and problems. Again, understanding Russia today demands moving beyond these misleading extremes. And understanding Russia is crucial to understanding what sorts of futures are open...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Piotr Dutkiewicz and Dmitri Trenin

    This book seeks to “re-think Russia.” Over the past years, there has been a tendency, in the global academic community but even more widely in the world media, to focus on Russia’s failure to transit from communism to democracy. The verdict reads, sternly, “lost in transition.” A countertendency, actively propagated within Russia, has extolled the virtues of the country’s stabilization after the tempest and tumult of the 1980s and 1990s. The motto of this group proudly states, “Russia has risen from its knees.” From that perspective, it is the outside world’s responsibility to be more objective toward Russia.

    Both arguments...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Missing in Translation: Re-conceptualizing Russia’s Developmental State
    (pp. 9-40)
    Piotr Dutkiewicz

    This is a story about power, accumulation, state, bureaucracy, and survival. It draws the contours of Russia’s attempt at modernization via etatization.¹ It provides a sketch of Russia’s trajectory over the past twenty years, and it is about “politics from above” as a vehicle of social change and its successes and failures. This chapter is also a theoretical vignette within the open-ended story of the possible developmental direction of one of the world’s most important subsystems.²

    In these days, a palette consisting only of black and white has seemed sufficient to paint a picture of Russia (particularly after the war...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Long Road to Normalcy: Where Russia Now Stands
    (pp. 41-72)
    Vladimir Popov

    The world economic recession hit Russia harder than other countries due to the collapse of oil prices, the outflow of capital caused by world recession, and poor policies to cope with the shock. The reduction in GDP in 2009 totaled 7.9 percent, as compared to 2.5 percent in the United States, 4.1 percent in the European Union, and 5.2 percent in Japan. Emerging markets, however, did much better than developed countries. China grew by 8.7 percent, India by 5.7 percent, the Middle East by 2.4 percent, and sub-Saharan Africa by 2.1 percent. Only the economies of Latin America, Eastern Europe,...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Sovereign Bureaucracy in Russia’s Modernizations
    (pp. 73-86)
    Georgi Derluguian

    Ever since 1553, when the enterprising Englishman Richard Chancellor found Archangelsk, instead of a northern bypass to India, Russia has been described as Europe’s eccentricother. The familiar tropes of comparison persisted over the centuries: a gigantic frozen realm of fabulous natural riches, a different tradition of Christianity, the subserviently fatalistic populace under mighty autocratic rulers. The stress onothernessbecame a matter of faith for many Russians themselves, from stolid conservatives to messianic subversives and liberal Westernizers appalled by the “Asiatic” backwardness of their native land. Today, the focal point is once again on natural resources and authoritarianism associated...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR The Changing Dynamics of Russian Politics
    (pp. 87-114)
    Richard Sakwa

    Following the dissolution of the communist regime in 1991, President Boris Yeltsin was faced with the challenge of establishing a new political order. This involved a twofold project: transformative and adaptive. The transformative element was intended to overcome the Soviet legacy and to introduce elements of the market, and thus in certain respects was reminiscent of the Bolshevik attempt at grandiose social engineering, although in reverse gear. The adaptive element, however, mitigated the Bolshevik features of the new system. Rather than the regime setting its face against what were perceived to be existing patterns of subjectivity and popular aspirations, it...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Leadership and the Politics of Modernization
    (pp. 115-144)
    Timothy J. Colton

    If a country has ever fit this near-truism to a “T,” it has been the Russia seemingly designed by nature for one-man rule. That being so, the presence today of a pair of ostensible captains of the ship, Vladimir Putin joined by Dmitrii Medvedev, is a novel and puzzling sight. Speculation about a rekindling of Russian modernization would be hollow at the core without a look at this anomaly and the circumstances behind it, at leadership in general, and at its place in promoting or retarding change.

    Comparative studies of leadership have long struggled to escape the shadow of reductionist,...

  12. CHAPTER SIX The Sociology of Post-reform Russia
    (pp. 145-190)
    Mikhail K. Gorshkov

    Russian society is frequently accused of being secretive and of not lending itself to sociological analysis. It is said that it is too strange and incomprehensible for the West to understand. This is no coincidence. It is perfectly obvious that compared with most Western countries, there are certain peculiarities about Russia that complicate any analysis, assessment, or forecast of the direction of socio-economic and political change there, past and present.

    Life in Russia has changed considerably in the last decade. Contemporary Russian society can be described as a relatively integrated system containing elements both of nascent capitalism and substantial remnants...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Elites: The Choice for Modernization
    (pp. 191-224)
    Leonid Grigoriev

    Every country—Russia is no exception—“acquires” a new functioning elite—be it political, financial, or intellectual—as a result of revolution or a change of regime. The old elite may lose control and depart or, with luck, may merge into the new formation of social strata existing in that particular country. The composition and structure of elites are country-specific and reflect that country’s history. The removal of the old power elite—particularly the Communist elite—has been no easy matter. In Russia, transition has been extremely complicated, primarily because the change of power elites occurred within a superpower during...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Education for an Innovative Russia
    (pp. 225-244)
    Nur Kirabaev

    These days, Russia is, statistically speaking, a world leader in the field of education, with 630 students for every 10,000 members of the population. Bearing in mind that 88 percent of Russian citizens regard higher education as extremely desirable for their children, it is obvious that post-secondary education is playing an important role in constructing Russia’s future role within the world system.

    Nowadays, the fate of Russian education arouses deep concern not only regarding the development of the quality of education for its own sake but also in its capacity as the fundamental basis of Russia’s modernization as a whole....

  15. CHAPTER NINE Health and Health Care in Russia Today and Tomorrow
    (pp. 245-270)
    Oleg Atkov and Guzel Ulumbekova

    This chapter discusses some of the demographic challenges faced by the Russian government since the fall of communism. It then analyzes the government’s attempts to address those challenges and proposes several steps aimed at improving the overall performance of the Russian health care system.

    In 2006, then president Vladimir Putin referred to the demographic crisis as the most serious problem facing Russia.¹ Some scholars adopted a very pessimistic view about Russia’s future, predicting a population decline of more than 30 percent over the next fifty years (from 143 million in 2003).² Indeed, the fall of communism and the liberal economic...

  16. CHAPTER TEN The Imaginary Curtain
    (pp. 271-300)
    Roderic Lyne

    In Moscow, on July 6, 2009, President Obama stated that he and President Medvedev were “committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past so that we can advance the interests that we hold in common.”¹ On September 10 (in his article “Go, Russia!”), President Medvedev declared that “resentment, arrogance, various complexes, mistrust and especially hostility should be excluded from the relations between Russia and the leading democratic countries.”²

    How often have we heard these words over the past twenty years? How often, indeed, have many of us uttered them?

    The Berlin Wall parted on November 9, 1989....

  17. CHAPTER ELEVEN What Kind of a Europe for What Kind of Russia
    (pp. 301-326)
    Alexander Rahr

    This chapter examines what went wrong in the relations between Russia and the West over the first two decades after the end of the Cold War and how the idea of an alliance can be repaired in the coming decades.

    Instead of tackling common threats and seeking a basic agreement about the future European architecture, NATO, the EU, and Russia are at loggerheads over so many issues that some observers have concluded that the Cold War has returned. The areas of conflict can be easily named: human rights; rule of law; press freedom; free elections; NATO enlargement; missile defense; dependencies...

  18. CHAPTER TWELVE The Obama Administration’s “Reset Button” for Russia
    (pp. 327-352)
    Andrew C. Kuchins

    Developing and implementing policy toward Russia has proven to be one of the greatest and most controversial challenges for four administrations in Washington since the end of the Cold War nearly twenty years ago. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, whose administrations together were responsible for Russia policy for the majority of the period from 1993 to 2009, each devoted a great deal of time and energy to improving ties with Moscow, yet each left office frustrated and disappointed, and with a bilateral relationship in worse condition than at the beginning of their administrations. Given the deep acrimony and...

  19. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Russia: The Eastern Dimension
    (pp. 353-382)
    Bobo Lo

    The course of Russian foreign policy over the past four hundred years offers up a singular paradox. On the one hand, Russia’s eastward expansion during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries established the physical reality of a state whose territory lies predominantly in Asia. On the other hand, its rulers—in tsarist, communist, and post-Soviet times—have consistently viewed Russia as part of a larger European and Western civilization. The two-headed Romanov eagle on the national coat of arms makes for a nice image, but at no stage has Russia developed an Asian outlook. Central Asia, Eastern Siberia, and the Russian...

  20. CHAPTER FOURTEEN Russia and the Newly Independent States of Central Asia: Relations Transformed
    (pp. 383-406)
    Rustem Zhangozha

    This chapter is devoted to an analysis of the new kind of relations developing between Russia and the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia. Fifteen states emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union, among them five in Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. Even a quick look at the literature shows that most of the research carried out on the countries of Central Asia has been done by non-Central Asian researchers who base their findings on what they observe from outside.¹ This paves the way for an opportunity for more detailed comparative analysis, a reconstruction of the complex...

  21. CHAPTER FIFTEEN Of Power and Greatness
    (pp. 407-432)
    Dmitri Trenin

    The breakup of the Soviet Union, which happened suddenly and unexpectedly for most of its subjects as well as outsiders, finally closed the books on the historical Russian empire. It also signified the end of Soviet Russia as an ideological power, and an all-around military superpower, which constituted important trappings of the very last—Soviet—edition of Russian imperialism.¹ This is not the place to discuss whether the USSR was doomed from the start of perestroika, or whether it might have been preserved by more competent policies, supported, for example, by higher oil prices. The point of departure of this...

  22. AFTERWORD Russia and the West: Toward Understanding
    (pp. 433-458)
    Vladimir I. Yakunin

    This chapter is aboutRussia in crisis.

    The author himself comes from this Russian reality and, together with 150 million people close to him, finds himself negotiating the eddies of Russia’s chaos. Yet at the same time he bears the burden of responsibility for many incidences of destruction and transition—“both professionally and personally.” This chapter was not easy to write. Every sentence provoked memories and gave rise to many unanswered questions.

    For us, the subject of Russia and the West is extremely current. It is essential that Russia understand itself through the prism of the West in order to...

  23. About the Contributors
    (pp. 459-462)
  24. Index
    (pp. 463-491)