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The Putin Paradox

Sakwa, Richard (2020) The Putin Paradox. I.B. Tauris, United Kingdom, 344 pp. ISBN 978-1-78831-830-3. E-ISBN 978-1-83860-372-4. (KAR id:80013)

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The Putin phenomenon is a response to the challenges facing Russia, but it is also the outcome of the complex reaction between the man and the system. Putin reflects the contradictions and paradoxes of contemporary Russia, but he is also a unique leader who is both more and less than the country that he rules. He is more, because of the extraordinary powers vested in the presidency by the December 1993 constitution. The president is designated as the ‘guarantor of the constitution’ (Art. 80.2), suggesting that they stand outside of the constitution in order to protect it, a paradox of power that cuts through the whole system. This helps explain the emergence from the very early days of a self-designated power system focused on the presidency but not limited to it, which effectively claimed supervisory or tutelary rights over the management of public affairs. The administrative regime derives its power and legitimacy from the constitution, but it is not effectively constrained by it. A ‘dual state’ emerged in which administrative and democratic rationality are entwined. This is why it is misleading to call Russia an ‘autocracy’. The authoritarian features are rooted in a non-democratic technocratic appeal to the pursuit of the public good. The priority under Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s was economic and political reform, and then under Putin from 2000 as economic development, state sovereignty, national unity and international status. Putin’s ability to articulate an agenda of progress, although in contrast to the Soviet years no longer embedded in a coherent vision of the future, helps explain his extraordinary and enduring popularity, which with some ups and downs has been maintained at levels far exceeding those normally found in liberal democracies.

Item Type: Book
Uncontrolled keywords: Putin, Russia, paradox, democracy, development, Cold war
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions and public administration (Europe)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Richard Sakwa
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 17:41 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2021 10:55 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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