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The Crisis of Russian Democracy
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Book description

The view that Russia has taken a decisive shift towards authoritarianism may be premature, but there is no doubt that its democracy is in crisis. In this original and dynamic analysis of the fundamental processes shaping contemporary Russian politics, Richard Sakwa applies a new model based on the concept of Russia as a dual state. Russia's constitutional state is challenged by an administrative regime that subverts the rule of law and genuine electoral competitiveness. This has created a situation of permanent stalemate: the country is unable to move towards genuine pluralist democracy but, equally, its shift towards full-scale authoritarianism is inhibited. Sakwa argues that the dual state could be transcended either by strengthening the democratic state or by the consolidation of the arbitrary power of the administrative system. The future of the country remains open.


‘The Crisis of Russian Democracy is an important book, an elegant and impressively well informed interpretation of what really goes on in Russian politics. Its account of the Putin–Medvedev succession should be a fundamental reference for all future work on the Putin period.’

Henry E. Hale - George Washington University

‘Richard Sakwa has long been renowned for his forensic studies of Russian politics. This time he focuses on how what he calls 'the dual state' - the 'permanent crisis' created by the ongoing struggle between the formal constitutional order and the shadowy 'administrative regime' - survived the stress test of transition from Putin to Medvedev as president in 2007–08. A must for any serious student of modern Russia.’

Andrew Wilson - European Council on Foreign Relations

'Richard Sakwa, a leading British scholar on Russia’s domestic politics, has written a meaty,well-researched, rather sprawling book that covers the years 2004–2009 … Sakwa writes clear, very readable prose.'

Peter Reddaway Source: International Affairs

'The Crisis of Russian Democracy is a highly recommendable book, especially because the next ‘operation succession’ is currently underway. Sakwa provides an analytical framework which is very useful for understanding current affairs in Russia.'

Source: The International Spectator

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