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D. III. Russia under Putin

In this bibliography, the Russian government figures primarily as a supporter of authoritarian regimes in former Soviet states. Now it also warrants its own sub-section on the potential of internal resistance. After an uncertain political course under Boris Yeltsin from 1991-2000, Vladimir Putin (first elected President in March 2000) has promoted greater economic and political stability and an efficient form of authoritarianism, which allows degrees of individual and social freedom but represses significant dissent from individuals and from organized groups. Opposition parties are allowed to contest elections, but on unequal terms. Putin has served two terms as President, one four year term as Prime Minister (with an obviously subordinate ally as President) and was re-elected President (this time for six years) in May 2012. Putin undoubtedly has had widespread popular support for restoring stability, clamping down on some of the individuals who amassed fortunes in the 1990s by seizing the assets of the Soviet state, and appealing to Russian nationalism.

In general there was more protest, including strikes, under Yeltsin, whereas Putin has been more effective in repressing opposition demonstrations, mobilizing expressions of popular support for himself, and in channeling dissent. Key sources of opposition have been some investigative journalists – more than 20 of whom have been murdered – human rights defenders and ecological activists. It was not until the run-up to the elections of May 2012, and in their aftermath, that major protests erupted claiming the process was rigged. Hundreds were arrested. In the west considerable publicity has also been given to the feminist punk band Pussy Riot: their brief controversial protest before an altar in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow (to oppose the political support given to Putin by the Russian Orthodox) has earned two members two years in prison. It seems likely that resistance to Putin will grow, and the regime in the latter part of 2012 initiated measures to tighten control of the internet and undermine civil society groups. The references listed below include assessments of the nature of Putin’s authoritarianism as well as a few articles on the May 2012 protests.

Democracy, Journal of, Putin under Siege, special section, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 23, issue 3 (July), 2012, pp. 19-70

Comprises 5 articles: Shevtsova, Lilia, ‘Putin Under Siege; Implosion, Atrophy or Revolution?’; Krastev, Ivan and Stephen Holmes, ‘An Autopsy of Managed Democracy’; Popescu, Nicu, ‘The Strange Alliance of Nationalists and Democrats’; Volvkov, Denis, ‘The Protesters and the Public’; Wolchick, Sharon, ‘Can There be a Color Revolution?’

Dobson, William J., The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, New York, Harvill Secker, 2012, pp. 341

Former editor of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy assesses the nature of various contemporary authoritarian regimes and discusses unarmed resistance. Chapter 1 ‘The Czar’ analyses the Putin regime including its control over the media; Chapter 2 ‘Enemies of the State’ gives prominence to a campaign to preserve the Khimki forest and the effectiveness of tactics used.

Robertson, Graeme B., The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes: Managing Dissent in Post-Communist Russia, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 303

Thorough study, with substantial chapter on strikes and workers’ mobilization.

Roxburgh, Angus, The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia, London, I.B. Taurus, 2011, pp. 338

By BBC and Sunday Times journalist.

Saradzhyan, Simon ; Abdullaev, Nabi, Putin, the protest movement and political change in Russia, [17 Feb 2012], Paris, EU Institute for Security Studies, 2012

Shevtsova, Lilia, Russian under Putin: Titanic Looking for its Iceberg?, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 45, issue 3-4 (September), 2012, pp. 209-216