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Regular version of the site

Contemporary Russian Politics

2023/2024
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
4
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
When:
2 year, 1, 2 module

Instructors

Course Syllabus

Abstract

The course revolves around four major issues in Russian politics: super-presidentialism, regionalisation, state weakness and weak political institutions, and its resource wealth and business-state relations. The tasks of the course are therefore covering these four components. The three former institutional characteristics are taken to be more stable and to produce stronger legacies traced back to the late Soviet times and the 1990s. The latter, being primarily the naughts' feature, enters analysis by the mid-term.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course aims at forming a coherent knowledge of the recent political developments in Russia through the lens of various conceptual and theoretical approaches
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Analyzes the role of civil society in Russian politics from late 1980s to our days
  • Appreciates the significance of events that occurred in 1992-1993 for contemporary Russian political development
  • Establishes and analyzes the role of parties in Russian politics
  • Establishes prerequisites for protests and color revolutions in the post-soviet space
  • Executes applied analysis of the political phenomena and political processes taking place in Russia - by using political science methods - and in support of practical decision making process
  • Identifies the major state-building reforms in Russia
  • Interprets the varying approaches to role of business in Russian politics
  • Knows and analyzes the critical junctures in Russian Political History
  • Knows reasons and events of Perestroika, performs analysis of its successes and failures
  • Knows the role of media in Russian politics
  • Retrieves, collects, processes and analyzes information related to Russian political development on various levels and relevant for achieving goals in the professional field
  • Thinks critically and interprets the political experience based on the examples from Russian political history (personal and that of other persons), relates it to professional and social activities
  • Understands the development of role played by courts in Russian politics
  • Uses conceptual toolkit of political science theories of federalism to analyse development of federalism in Russia
  • Establishes and analyzes the role of electoral mechanisms in Russian politics
  • Establishes symbolic narratives of russian politics
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The Institutionalist Conceptual Lens and Critical Junctures in Russian Political History
  • Soviet Politics and Perestroika
  • 1992-1993 and the New Constitution
  • Electoral and Party System in Russia
  • Electoral Mechanisms in Russia
  • Federalism in Russia
  • Business and State
  • Media
  • State-Building and Reform Process in Russia
  • Rule of Law and Courts
  • Civil Society and NGOs
  • Color Revolutions and Regime Dynamics in Post-Soviet space
  • Symbolic Politics in Modern Russia
  • Future of Russian Political System
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Political Party Portrait (Group Presentation)
    For the discussion group on parties and electoral systems students prepare a group presentation devoted to the history of one particular political party currently active in Russia or historically significant in Russian politics. The list of parties: United Russia (Единая Россия); CPRF (КПРФ); Just Russia (СРЗП); LDPR (ЛДПР); Yabloko (Яблоко); New People (Новые люди). In each academic group, students are divided into six teams, each of which takes one party to present. The presentation is to last no more than 10 minutes, followed by a Q&A session, for which the group is expected to prepare questions for the audience. The presentation should cover the following points: history of the party’s formation; declared goals and ideology; popularity and electoral performance throughout the years; role in the Russian political system.
  • non-blocking Political Portrait of Elite Group (Group Presentation)
    Another group presentation addresses the topic of factions (informal groups) within the Russian political elite and their influence on the Russian political system. The presentation builds around discussing the main personalities within any given group, where their cohesiveness comes from, how the group evolves over time, what its goals are, and which resources it commands. The list of factions: The Family (from Yeltsin’s times); The Liberals (“systemic” ones); Piterskiye (from Putin’s times); Oligarchs; Siloviki; Technocrats (from Putin’s times). In each academic group, students are divided into six teams, each of which takes one party to present. The presentation is to last no more than 15 minutes, followed by a Q&A session, for which the group is expected to prepare questions for the audience. The presentation should cover the following points: composition of the faction, the top people in it; formation and historical evolution of the faction; goals, ideology, and resources under control of the faction; the faction’s relations with other factions, groups, parties or social movements within the Russian political system; role in the Russian political system.
  • non-blocking In-class Tests
    Each seminar starts with a 10-minute written test which covers the material of this week’s topic, both lecture and seminar. Each test includes from 1 to 5 open or multiple-choice questions.
  • non-blocking Reaction Paper
    Reaction paper is an opinion essay on the topic of one of the seminars, in which students are expected to summarize and critically review the literature about this topic. The paper should cover at least 2 of the readings from the syllabus (either of mandatory or optional readings), but students may choose to review any additional academic literature, in case it is relevant for the topic. A reaction paper briefly covers the reading, criticizes it, etc. The author is expected to answer some basic questions, e.g. what are the central issues in the literature reviewed, which arguments the works put forth, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the papers under review. The important thing about reaction paper is that it should not merely summarize the works that it reviews (reaction paper is not an annotated bibliography), but should add something to it – either in criticism, or in some interesting development of the arguments proposed, or both. It is important to show the underlying similarities and differences of the pieces reviewed in the reaction paper. This way, a reaction paper should start from the literature but arrive at the student’s own position on the chosen topic.
  • non-blocking Written Exam
    The exam is a written essay on two broad questions covered in the course. The exam lasts for two hours. Exam is close-booked, held in the seminar auditory. To answer the question students have 1 hour 20 minutes. The students may choose not to take the exam and instead get their grade calculated on the basis of the non-exam components of the grade, where the grade for the exam will be 0.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2023/2024 2nd module
    0.3 * Written Exam + 0.1 * Political Party Portrait (Group Presentation) + 0.25 * In-class Tests + 0.25 * Reaction Paper + 0.1 * Political Portrait of Elite Group (Group Presentation)
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Fish, M. S. (2005). Democracy Derailed in Russia : The Failure of Open Politics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=148155
  • Shevtsova, L. (2010). Putin’s Russia (Vol. 2nd ed). Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for Int’l Peace. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=551790

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Desai, P. (2006). Conversations on Russia: Reform from Yeltsin to Putin. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.oxp.obooks.9780195300611
  • Sakwa, R. (2002). Russian Politics and Society (Vol. 3rd ed). London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=73688