Policy Memos

Modernizing Sovereign Democracy? Russian Political Thinking and the Future of the 'Reset'

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“We have changed,” was the main message of President Dmitry Medvedev’s speech at the June 2010 St. Petersburg Economic Forum (SPEF). Trying to persuade foreign governments and investors alike to provide support for his policy to modernize Russia, Medvedev created an image of his country as open and dynamic—a society that has taken a big step forward, in no small measure thanks to the actions of the government.

The language of this and other speeches made by the current Russian president stand in sharp contrast with the rhetoric of Vladimir Putin’s second presidential term, when the motto was “sovereign democracy.” Although Putin never formally endorsed this concept, he frequently relied on it in both policy choices and statements—most prominently in his February 2007 speech at the Munich Security Conference. [...]

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About the author

Professor, EU–Russia Studies
University of Tartu, Estonia