Alternative Futures for Russia to 2017
December 13, 2007
Russia today is a hybrid regime that might best be termed "illiberal internationalism." From being a weakly institutionalized, fragile, and in many ways distorted proto-democracy in the 1990s, Russia under Vladimir Putin has moved back in the direction of a highly centralized authoritarianism, which has characterized the state for most of its 1,000-year history. But it is an authoritarian state where the consent of the governed is essential. Given the experience of the 1990s and the Kremlin's propaganda emphasizing this period as one of chaos, economic collapse, and international humiliation, the Russian people have no great enthusiasm for democracy and remain politically apathetic in light of the extraordinary economic recovery and improvement in lifestyles for so many over the last eight years. The emergent, highly centralized government, combined with a weak and submissive society, is the hallmark of traditional Russian paternalism.
That Russia is a hybrid regime should not surprise us only 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The vexing question is how sustainable is this system, and if it is not, how will it develop. There are many different views on this question, some of them reflected in this report. The report, based on analysis by Andrew Kuchins and members of his Russia 2017 Working Group, examines the significant drivers of Russia’s future—economic, political, demographic, and geostrategic—and then offers some possible scenarios for that future through 2017.
To get more information about this report and listen to the report launch please go to the Alternative Futures for Russia to 2017 report launch event page.