By the end of the 2000s Russia had become an increasingly authoritarian state, which was characterised by the following features: outrageously unfair and fraudulent elections, the existence of weak and impotent political parties, a heavily censored (often self-censored) media, weak rubber-stamping legislatures at the national and sub-national levels, politically subordinated courts, the arbitrary use of the economic powers of the state, and widespread corruption. However, this picture would be incomplete without taking into account the sub-national dimension of these subversive institutions and practices across the regions of the Russian Federation. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, sub-national political developments in Russia became highly diversified and the political map of Russia’s regions became multi-faceted. The period of 2000s demonstrated a drive on the part of the Kremlin to re-centralise politics and governance to the demise of newly-emerging democratic institutions at both the national and sub-national levels. Yet, federalism and regionalism remain key elements of the research agenda in Russian politics, and the overall political map of Russia’s regions is far from being monotonic. Rather, it is similar to a complex multi-piece puzzle, which can only be put together through skilful crafting. The 12 chapters in this collection are oriented towards the generation of more theoretically and empirically solid inferences and provide critical evaluations of the multiple deficiencies in Russia’s sub-national authoritarianism, including: principal-agent problems in the relations between the layers of the ’power vertical’, unresolved issues of regime legitimacy that have resulted from manipulative electoral practices, and the inefficient performance of regional and local governments. The volume brings together a team of international experts on Russian regional politics which includes top scholars from Britain, Canada, Russia and the USA.
'Gel’man and Ross have put together a dream team of specialists on Russia’s regions, and they do not disappoint. This volume presents some remarkable new approaches and findings, ranging from a fresh analytical framework for studying subnational authoritarianism to evidence that regional authoritarianism is negatively correlated with pre-Soviet patterns of Western protestant missionary settlement. The volume provides an important assessment of Putin’s impact during the 2000s, and draws some preliminary conclusions on whether Medvedev represents anything new. Students of all aspects of Russian politics and comparativists interested in regime change will each find much of interest here.' Henry Hale, The George Washington University, USA 'This excellent collection of essays provides a wealth of new and stimulating insights into the state of politics in Russia's regions. Theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich, they are a must read for anyone interested in this area.' Graeme Gill, University of Sydney, Australia '... edited by two of the foremost experts in writing today about Russia's subnational regions. Vladimir Gel'man is a political scientist at the European University of St. Petersburg and Cameron Ross is in the Department of Politics at the University of Dundee. The affiliations are worth noting because they are indicative of one of this volume's strengths, namely that it represents the collaborative efforts of Western social scientists with a new generation of Russian scholars who are fully conversant in the methods and theories of modern social science.' The Russian Review 'This edited volume is a carefully crafted and refreshing empirical collection of twelve studies, each of which explores major aspects of the intriguing topics of sub-national authoritarianism in contemporary Russia, dealing simultaneously and effectively with the two conceptual elements in the room: the continuing myth of Russian federalism, and its on-going tensions