An Overview of Politics in Russian
This article provides an overview of the authoritarian political system in Russia. We will look at the legislative process, military policy, and economic elites. Read on to learn about the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the country's politics. This article was originally published in 2008.
Russia's authoritarian political system
Despite the increasing number of people expressing discontent with Russia's authoritarian political system, Russia continues to enjoy high levels of economic growth and a burgeoning middle class. This authoritarian regime is largely based on the idea that the population is a docile force that can be easily controlled. By granting citizens a sense of national greatness and basic physical security, the elites promise not to meddle in ordinary citizens' lives. This social contract has worked relatively well when the economy was growing and people were focusing on their own needs, but it is failing in today's climate of economic stagnation and rising expectations.
Corruption is widespread and officials are able to engage in malfeasance with impunity. Some analysts have described Russia's political system as a kleptocracy, where the ruling elites plunder public wealth. In Russia, some of these elites openly work to promote the goals of President Putin's policy and receive government contracts and immunity from prosecution. While women hold fewer than 5% of State Duma seats, they account for only ten percent of cabinet positions. Despite this low representation, many issues that are important to women are not prominently discussed in Russian politics.
Despite the high level of political freedom, Russian authorities have continued to violate the rights of ordinary citizens. For example, a law passed by the Russian president in December 2015 allows the Russian judiciary to overrule the decisions of international courts. Additionally, this law also grants police the authority to search without warrants. These laws have led to a number of political prisoners seeking justice. In fact, the number of people seeking justice in the international courts is constantly growing.
Its legislative process
Russian politics and its legislative process is governed by the Constitution, which prescribes the structure of the government. The government consists of a prime minister, deputy prime ministers, and federal ministers. The prime minister must submit nominations to the president for subordinate Government positions within a week of being appointed. The prime minister's job is to carry out administration in accordance with laws and the Constitution. The Russian government is the largest democracy in the world.
The Russia constitution equalizes regional jurisdictions with the center, but remnants of the Soviet-era multitiered federalism remain. It allows for non-Russian languages to be spoken in republics and defines five types of subunits. The constitution is vague on many details of the federal structure, and clarifying legislation has not been passed by mid-1996. Therefore, there is no consensus as to what constitutes a subunit.
The presidential system in Russia has a very problematic structure. While the president and his inner circle are the primary focus of the government, the legislative branch is neglected and does not perform its role. This creates a great potential for corruption at the top of the pyramid. A decapitation of the presidency does not necessarily improve the state's democratic process. Instead, it may worsen the situation. The current system is far from ideal.
Reforms in the judiciary are vital to a democratic society. The Russian Constitution has been condemned 72 times by the European Court of Human Rights for not enforcing judgments of national courts. These judgments were issued by the European Court of Human Rights, a body composed of 47 member countries. These decisions have a profound impact on the lives of millions of Russian citizens. Therefore, Russian politicians must strive to implement these reforms.
Its military policy
While there are many problems with the Russian military, the systemic nature of those challenges is perhaps the most significant. The military's long neglect of modernization and research and development coupled with the Cold War era have shaped the military's culture and traditions. Reform of Russia's military is still in its early stages, and the future of its force structure is uncertain. In the short term, Russia should seek to transform its military into a professional army, with a large reserve force and limited deterrence capability.
The new doctrine called for a sudden switch from strategic defensive to counteroffensive, marking the end of the initial phase of war. A strategic defensive requires intentional positional defense and a halt to the attacking forces' maneuver component. In the end, the Soviets needed a much larger force size than they had originally planned. But the shift from offensive to defensive doctrine was inevitable, and Russian military policy is still influenced by this period.
As global politics, economics, and social change changed, so did Russian military doctrine. The Gulf War was a test of the new doctrine. Russian leaders saw it as an opportunity to refine the definition of future war. The new doctrine also took lessons from the Gulf War, allowing the Russian military to build its force structure accordingly. Although the Russians were unable to stop the Iraqi invasion, they saw the allied response as a useful exercise to defining future war.
The new doctrine also incorporates a provision to keep the army's role in the former Soviet republics and the new Russian Federation. This is consistent with the earlier analysis. However, it should not be read as a guarantee of future success. The new doctrine does not preclude the need for future reform of Russia's armed forces. And Russia's military is already in the midst of reorganizing itself to adapt to new challenges.
Its economic elites
Russian politics and economic elites are shaped by a complex mix of forces. In the past, elite research has focused on business leaders with political connections. In the second half of the 1990s, however, the role of oligarchs and siloviki (heads of the military and security forces) increased dramatically, with their growing presence in the top ranks of the elite and increasing influence over decision-making. Vladimir Putin, as a representative of the siloviki group, is a clear example of this process.
In this article, we discuss the role of economic and political rents in shaping political decisions in Russia. We also examine how economic rents are distributed among various key elite groups. Using an "access orders" framework, we examine interactions among three key groups of the ruling elite: the top federal bureaucracy, politically connected big business, and the ruling elite. The paper also considers the evolution of rent sources in Russia during the last quarter century and the incentives of elite groups.
The political technocrats, who are Putin's preferred choice for key policy positions, are a growing category in the Russian bureaucracy. These political technocrats are the workhorses of the system, trusted by Putin to implement government policy. They are in charge of domestic, foreign, and defense policy, overseeing the economy, state finances, and the banking sector. In the end, these elites are the ones who will ultimately ensure the country's prosperity.
Russia's elites also orientate themselves towards a "development state" based on the Southeast Asian experience. In the 2000s, Russian economic elites were highly influenced by Singapore's leader Lee Kuan Yew, and the leading Russian establishment created the Investment Foundation and state corporations. Grand construction projects were launched in Vladivostok and Sochi. The state capitalism model was built upon a close integration between business and bureaucracy. Ultimately, the key idea of state capitalism was to create an economy that could compete on global markets.
Its religious institutions
Despite the rise of other religions in Russia, the Orthodox Church has a stronghold in the country. As the country's largest religion, the Church has become an indispensable strategic resource, co-opted by the state for its own ends. While the Church maintains a stance against sectarianism, it is also a key political asset for the state. Here are some key factors to consider about Russia's religious institutions and the role they play in politics.
Despite religious persecution, the Russian Orthodox Church maintained its dominance in the country, thanks in part to state legislation. In the early 1990s, the government started returning Church-owned land to the Church, reinforcing its position as the dominant religious group in the country. In addition, the state gave the Church implicit leverage in the form of the 1997 law on freedom of religion and religious association. The Church's status as the dominant religious group in Russia continued to increase as a result of this law.
While the majority of religious organizations were not directly involved in such cases, there were avenues for interaction with local authorities. Many Polpreds have sub-offices dedicated to social issues. Municipalities also have designated officials to represent religious organizations. The Russian Academy of State Service works with religious freedom advocates and trains local officials on the 1997 Law. Several of its conferences are also open to international audiences. It also cooperates with NGOs that promote religious tolerance.
ROC cooperation with the government is also noteworthy. Unlike other faiths in the country, the ROC works closely with the government. In fact, the ROC has signed several formal and informal agreements with government departments. The organizations can now open bank accounts, own property, invite foreign guests, publish literature, and hold religious services in public spaces. These religious organizations also have the right to rent public spaces for their services. Its religious activities can even benefit from tax benefits.