1st Edition

Non-Democratic Federalism and Decentralization in Post-Soviet States

By Irina Busygina, Mikhail Filippov Copyright 2024

    This book challenges the common perception of authoritarian regimes as incompatible with federalism and decentralization. It examines how the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have managed to exploit federalism and decentralization as useful instruments to help them preserve control, avoid political instability, and to shift blame to the regional authorities in times of crises and policy failures. The authors explain how post-Soviet authoritarian regimes balance the advantages and risks and emphasize the contradictory role of external influences and threats to the institutional design of federalism and decentralization. Advancing our understanding of how the institutions of federalism and decentralization are skillfully constrained, but at the same time used by authoritarian incumbents, they show that federalism and decentralization matter in non-democracies, though the nondemocratic character of the political systems greatly modifies their effects. The authors show the implication of the COVID-19 crisis and current Russian war against Ukraine for the center-regional relations in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of post-Soviet politics, decentralization, federalism, and modern authoritarianism.


    Part I Theoretical Preliminaries

    1. Navigating Personalistic Regimes: The Role of Center-Regional Relations

    2. The Non-Democratic Foundations of Institutional Stability

    3. The Double-Edged Sword of External Factors

    4. Legacies of the Soviet Union Disintegration

    Part II Between Democracy and Autocracy: Federalism and Decentralization Dynamics in the Post-Soviet States

    5. Russia

    6. Kazakhstan

    7. Ukraine

    Part III Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the War

    8. Coronavirus, Federalism, and Decentralization

    9. The Impact of the War on the Center-Regional-Local Relations in Russia and Ukraine



    Irina Busygina is a Visiting scholar at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Harvard University (USA). Her research interests include comparative federalism and regionalization, Russian domestic and foreign policy, and Russia-EU relations.

    Mikhail Filippov is Professor of Political Science at Binghamton University (SUNY, USA). He holds a PhD from California Institute of Technology. His research focuses on comparative federalism, post-Soviet integration, and human rights.