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Intellectual efforts to understand post-Crimean Russian society have brought to prominence explanations that emphasize psychological and attitudinal legacies of Soviet society. The recent revival of the term homo sovieticus (or Soviet man) in the media and intellectual discourse is a good illustration of this trend. Yurii Levada's late-Soviet sociological research project on the “simple Soviet man” serves as a frequent reference point in these discussions. In this article, I explore the ideological and analytical foundations of the Levada project and juxtapose the sociological construct developed by Levada and his team with the interpretative approach developed by Natalya Kozlova, another Soviet scholar who dedicated her life to studying Soviet society. I argue that essentialist and deterministic views of individual personality underpinning the Levada project that guide the current use of the Soviet man category are more politically and ideologically driven rather than being based on the state of the art in social psychology.
Strong institutions and accountable governments are imperative for any country’s long-term prosperity. Yet the development of such institutions has presented a continuous challenge for many countries around the world. Using Russia as a case, this study brings attention to the unexpected negative impact of global interdependence and shows that institutional arbitrage opportunities have enabled economic actors to solve for institutional weaknesses and constraints in the domestic realm by using foreign institutions, thereby limiting the emergence of a domestic rule of law regime. We argue that such opportunities lower the propensity of asset-holders, normally interested in strong institutions at home, to organize collective action to lobby for better institutions. We demonstrate the main ways through which Russia’s capital-owners make use of foreign legal and financial infrastructures such as capital flight, the use of foreign corporate structures, offshore financial centers, real estate markets, the round-tripping of foreign direct investment, and reliance on foreign law in contract-writing and foreign courts in dispute-resolution.
This essay brings attention to the recent discursive turn in Russian politics that is reflected in the Kremlin's turn to issues of traditional values and morality. Expressed in Russia's domestic and foreign policies, this new “morality politics” is dated by the Pussy Riot trial in 2012 that the Kremlin used to advance its new discursive frame in the public sphere. Although not entirely new in its orientation, this new stage of “morality politics” differs from the earlier policy initiatives in its intensity, scope and political significance for the regime. The moralizing stance taken by the regime is accompanied by a divide and rule political tactic, whereby the establishment has tried to marginalize the protesters from the rest of the Russian public that the regime is attempting to reconsolidate based on traditional, conservative values. The essay interprets this recent morality turn as a strategy selected by the Kremlin to restore the regime's legitimacy that has been shaken by the protests of 2011–2012 and looks at the social and political consequences of the selected strategy.