Policy Memos

Revenge of the Administrative System: The Primakov-Luzhkov Silver Lining

Policy Memo:


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At first glance, the probable political victory of the Primakov-Luzhkov duo in the wake of the failure of liberal reforms in Russia looks like a regressive return to the bureaucratic administrative system. However, as one looks closer into the reasons for the liberals' failure and mulls over various alternatives, this scenario, while still very disappointing, may not look so bleak.

The rapid collapse in Russia of the old administrative system in the early 1990s created a vacuum of social regulation that resulted in the proliferation of crime and corruption and jeopardized the reform itself. This failure reduced popular support for the liberal reformers. The political regime, in the absence of public support, started to rid itself of public control. It already featured elements of arbitrariness, exemplified by occasional use of force and government shuffles. If such developments continue, the current regime may turn into a pseudo-liberal tyranny. Under the guise of economic reform and democracy, there will be further squandering of national resources and, eventually, suppression of political dissent. There have already been calls to ban the not-so-radical Communist Party of the Russian Federation and to prevent the centrist Fatherland-All Russia electoral bloc from participating in the parliamentary elections. [...]

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About the author

Professor, Department of Sociology
Higher School of Economics, Moscow