Russian Politics and Law, September 2013 Table of Contents: Ukrainian Right-Wing Extremism

I’ve fallen behind in posting tables of contents from Russian Politics and Law. Here’s the September 2013 issue, which presciently enough was devoted to Ukrainian right wing extremism.

Volume 51 Number 5 / September-October 2013 of Russian Politics and Law is now available on the mesharpe.metapress.com web site.

Starting Post-Soviet Ukrainian Right-Wing Extremism Studies from Scratch: Guest Editor’s Introduction pp. 3 – 10
Andreas Umland
Ukrainian Integral Nationalism in Quest of a “Special Path” (1920s-1930s) pp. 11 – 32
Oleksandr Zaitsev
Ultraright Party Politics in Post-Soviet Ukraine and the Puzzle of the Electoral Marginalism of Ukrainian Ultranationalists in 1994-2009 pp. 33 – 58
Andreas Umland and Anton Shekhovtsov
Right-Wing Extremism on the Rise in Ukraine pp. 59 – 74
Viacheslav Likhachev
Social-Nationalists in the Ukrainian Parliament: How They Got There and What We Can Expect of Them pp. 75 – 85
Viacheslav Likhachev
A Typical Variety of European Right-Wing Radicalism? pp. 86 – 95
Andreas Umland

Russian Politics and Law, September 2013 Table of Contents

Volume 51 Number 5 / September-October 2013 of Russian Politics and Law is now available on the mesharpe.metapress.com web site.

This issue contains:

Starting Post-Soviet Ukrainian Right-Wing Extremism Studies from Scratch: Guest Editor’s Introduction  p. 3
Andreas Umland
Ukrainian Integral Nationalism in Quest of a “Special Path” (1920s-1930s)  p. 11
Oleksandr Zaitsev
Ultraright Party Politics in Post-Soviet Ukraine and the Puzzle of the Electoral Marginalism of Ukrainian Ultranationalists in 1994-2009  p. 33
Andreas Umland, Anton Shekhovtsov
Right-Wing Extremism on the Rise in Ukraine  p. 59
Viacheslav Likhachev
Social-Nationalists in the Ukrainian Parliament: How They Got There and What We Can Expect of Them  p. 75
Viacheslav Likhachev
A Typical Variety of European Right-Wing Radicalism?  p. 86
Andreas Umland

Corruption in Russia: Editor’s Introduction

Although Vladimir Putin began his first presidential term with reforms that were geared in part toward reducing illegal activity on the part of both state officials and average citizens, the hopes that tax and judicial reform and higher salaries for government employees would quickly reduce the extent of corruption in Russia proved unfounded. Corruption remains one of the most critical problems facing the Russian state and society.

This issue of Russian Politics and Law returns to the theme of corruption that we first addressed in 2009. The authors of the articles found in this issue describe the extent to which bribery and other forms of corruption occur in Russia as a whole and in specific sectors. They also address potential solutions to the problem and even discuss the extent to which corruption is necessary for the continued functioning of the Russian state.

Vladimir Rimskii’s “Bribery as a Norm for Citizens Settling Problems in Government and Budget-Funded Organizations” describes the results of a study that shows that bribery in Russia draws support from a system of norms and values that is deeply rooted in Russian society. The hypothesis driving the study is that bribery in Russia has become a social norm by which citizens solve their problems with government representatives. Rimskii tests this hypothesis by examining the results of three surveys conducted over a ten-year period. The results show that behavior in corruption-prone situations depends on the nature of the problem, with bribery being most common in relations with medical assistance or during motor vehicle inspections, while it was less common in situations where the respondent was applying for a job or government benefits, dealing with housing issues, or even going to court or the police. The frequency of bribery in Russian society is high, but stable.

One interesting finding that comes out of the surveys is that corruption has become such an entrenched part of the system that most people offering bribes do so without being asked and a sizable plurality know in advance the appropriate amount to give in particular situations. The surveys show that almost 40 percent of the population believes that giving bribes is essentially a necessary part of life in Russia. Most people blame the system or corrupt officials for the endemic nature of Russian bribery, rather than implicating their own behavior. They also see various state-sponsored anticorruption measures as ineffective, registering a high level of hopelessness about the possibility of systemic change.

Additional data about the demographic and geographic characteristics of corrupt behavior is found in “The Geography of Bribery” data put together by the Public Opinion Foundation, based on a survey it conducted in 2011. The data in this short article shows that corrupt behavior by government officials is most common in the southern parts of the country and in the twin capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Corruption is least common in the middle regions of Russia, including Siberia, the Urals, and the Volga region. In terms of demographic characteristics, the groups most prone to find themselves in corruption-prone situations are “those with greater social and material resources: men, middle-aged people, people with a higher education, and people with relatively high incomes.”

Large-scale corruption at the regional level is explored in detail by Leonid Bliakher in “The Regional Barons.” He finds that the post-Soviet Russian state has gone through three phases. In the first phase, extreme state weakness resulted in the state’s enforcement functions being performed by organized criminal gangs. As local state structures began to strengthen while the central state remained weak during the second phase, regional barons came to preside over regional administrative markets. The establishment of a strong central state in the most recent phase has led to the creation of a unified national administrative market.

The next several articles examine specific aspects of corruption. In “Bribery and the Judiciary,” Vladimir Rimskii shows that the judicial reform carried out during Vladimir Putin’s first term as president has made bribery more widespread in the Russian courts, with business people the main target of extortion. The frequency with which bribery is used in the court system to assure favorable rulings has undermined Russians’ trust in the court system and has prevented the courts from becoming a way for citizens to protect their rights. In fact, most Russians see no distinction between the judiciary and the executive branch and do not believe in judicial independence.

Anastasia Dubova and Leonid Kosal_’s examine “Russian Police Involvement in the Shadow Economy.” They find that Russians do not trust the police to be impartial in carrying out their duties. The authors find that “police involvement in the shadow economy has reached the point where it poses a threat to the Russian economic and political system.” The main causes of extensive corruption among the police stem from their de facto privatization and use by governing elites in the division of assets left over from the Soviet system. At the same time, the collapse of the communist system undermined the police professional code, while low salaries encouraged police to use their powers to make money on the side.

In “The Border Zone,” Sergei Golunov shows how the Russian border zone offers many opportunities for illegal self-enrichment. He identifies six types of commonly occurring corrupt practices carried out by border zone officials: (1) illegally allowing people or goods to cross the border, (2) extorting money or goods from entrepreneurs and other travelers crossing the border, (3) giving vehicles the right to move to the front of the line at border crossings and customs offices, (4) granting privileges to businesses with connections to the officials, (5) using the restricted status of border territories to exploit their resources, and (6) lobbying government officials in support of legal standards that are conducive to border zone corruption. Golunov argues that smuggling and other types of border zone corruption can be reduced through increased public oversight, systematic rotation of personnel, and the formation of informal associations to pressure officials to reduce abuses.

The last two articles address some of the fundamental causes of corruption in Russia and touch on possible solutions to the problem. In “Hostages of Distrust,” Aleksandr Auzan and Tat_’iana Malkina discuss how efforts to eliminate corruption can have unexpected consequences in societies based on personalized ties. Auzan argues that while corruption can have quite pernicious effects in societies that function based on depersonalized norms, in societies that are based on personalized ties efforts to eliminate corruption may lead to societal paralysis as public services cease to function. He places Russia firmly in the latter group and argues that transition to the group of states founded on depersonalized norms is difficult and does not follow any general laws. Auzan believes that for Russia to make this transition, the creative class will have to put pressure on governing elites to create institutions that can help them function without having to leave the country.

In “The Strategy of the New Principal,” Nikolai Rozov provides a potential path toward eliminating the endemic nature of corruption in Russia. He defines corruption in Russia as a social institution that is based on a principal–agent relationship that allows for frequent violation of formal or informal rules. If such violations become constant, they may be considered rents being paid by clients to the agent, with the active or passive agreement of the principal. While in some societies, the collective citizenry may play the role of the principal, in Russia the role of the principal is given to the supreme state authority—the president. The president has the power to allow his agents to engage in corrupt activities or to punish them for such activities. By frequently changing the rules of the game, the president encourages the formation of an “institutional trap.”

Rozov argues that this trap is created by the existence of a system in which the main actors are more interested in “winning more rights to break rules or greater powers to set both the rules themselves and the rules for breaking rules.” Attempts to replace the existing set of rules with rules that might benefit society as a whole are viewed as hopeless and may lead to the elimination of the actor pressing for such changes.

Based on this analysis, Rozov formulates a potential pathway for breaking out of this vicious cycle of corruption. “The first step is to prevent illegal state coercion directed against persons and property.” This can be done only if a sufficiently large segment of society becomes willing to challenge the rulers in what is essentially an attempt to take away their position as principal in favor of giving that role to the people. This has to be done gradually, first through the formation of local initiative groups that are focused on reducing corruption and reforming the citizen–state relationship in particular localities and on specific issues. Gradually, such groups can coalesce into a political movement that seeks to reform the relationship in Russia as a whole.

In the introduction to the July-August 2009 issue of this journal, I wrote that the most likely scenario is “more of the same, with Russian leaders issuing occasional declaratory statements aimed at making people think that the government is concerned about the problem of official corruption and taking a few exemplary steps against some individuals who have in reality fallen out of favor, while few actual measures are undertaken against systemic corruption.” Events in the last year have shown that this prediction remains very much on the mark, with several corruption-related show trials against regime opponents and highly visible firings of top officials such as former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdiukov for corruption-related offenses. At the same time, there is no longer even any pretense of attempts to eliminate systemic corruption. The governing elites are no longer capable of changing the system they have created; this will inevitably lead to pressure to change the system from below.

Russian Politics and Law, July 2013 Table of Contents

Volume 51 Number 4 / July-August 2013 of Russian Politics and Law is now available on the mesharpe.metapress.com web site.

This issue contains:

Corruption in Russia: Editor’s Introduction  p. 3
Dmitry Gorenburg
Bribery as a Norm for Citizens Settling Problems in Government and Budget-Funded Organizations  p. 8
Vladimir Rimskii
The Geography of Bribery  p. 25
Public Opinion Foundation
The Regional Barons  p. 30
Leonid Bliakher
Bribery and the Judiciary  p. 40
Vladimir Rimskii
Russian Police Involvement in the Shadow Economy  p. 48
Anastasia Dubova, Leonid Kosal’s
The Border Zone  p. 59
Sergei Golunov
Hostages of Distrust  p. 71
Aleksandr Auzan, Tat’iana Malkina
The Strategy of the New Principal  p. 85
Nikolai Rozov

Migration Policy in Russia: Editor’s Introduction

Migration has become an increasingly difficult problem for the Russian government as the decline and subsequent stagnation of the size of Russia’s population and a relatively higher standard of living in Russia have made the country an attractive goal for migrants from a number of former Soviet republics. The articles in this issue of Russian Politics and Law examine the question of migration from several points of view, including critical analysis, comparative politics, history, and policy.

In “Central Asian Migration: Practices, Local Communities, Transnationalism,” Sergei Abashin argues that asking the question “how does one begin to see oneself as a migrant?” may be a more useful way to analyze migration than asking “who are the migrants?” He highlights the importance of everyday practices, local communities, and transnational space in determining how people who see themselves as belonging to migrant communities answer this question.

Abashin begins by examining how the term “migrant” is defined in official discourse, showing that usage of the term in Russian government documents and statements is often inconsistent and ambiguous. He then shows how everyday conceptions of migrants and migration are tied into ideas about ethnic identity and national belonging that often diverge from the existing formal definitions of migration. As a result of these inconsistencies, Abashin calls for researchers to focus on ethnographic accounts of being a migrant, rather than limiting themselves to examining formal statistics on migration and drawing policy prescriptions on the basis of such findings.

Iana Strel’tsova’s article, “Integrating Immigrants in an Economic Crisis,” compares the Russian experience of migrant integration to that of France. On the basis of this comparison, Strel’tsova finds that multiculturalism has a poor record of success on the ground in terms of achieving the occupational, social, linguistic–cultural, and political integration of temporary and permanent immigrants.

Strel’tsova argues that governments need to take this record into account in devising integration programs and setting related policy goals. She believes that Russian officials formulating the country’s migration policy need to ensure that the existing ethnocultural and linguistic balance is maintained. She calls for policies that take into account both the state’s ethnic diversity and “the special role played by the ethnic majority—the Russian people—and by the Russian language created by this people.”

Ol’ga Vendina, in “Migrants in Russian Cities,” examines the history of migration to urban areas in Russia and the Soviet Union. Using the demographic history of Moscow as an example, she argues that the placement of particular emphasis on concepts such as “ethnic minority,” “migrant,” and “diaspora” in Russian cities impedes the formation of a culturally diverse, responsive modern urban civilization.

Vendina calls for making a distinction between the concept of an ethnic group and that of an ethnic minority. She shows that people can consider themselves to be members of an ethnic group without regarding themselves as ethnic minorities. Ethnic minorities, furthermore, are a social group that focuses on common interests and threats to the group, rather than their group’s ethnic or cultural distinctiveness. In this environment, Vendina argues that the best way for the government to ensure “amicable cohabitation” between migrants and long-term residents is to encourage cultural pluralism. She is not optimistic that the Russian government is capable of pursuing such a policy.

In “Ethnic and Migration Policy in the 2000s Viewed in the Context of Relations Between the Federal Center and the Regions,” Vladimir Mukomel’ examines the connection between federal migration and nationalities policies. He discusses trends in these policies at both the federal and regional levels, arguing that most of the constructive activity over the last few years has taken place in the regions rather than in the center.

Mukomel’ highlights the problems inherent in a situation where the federal government controls migration while the regions are given responsibility for nationalities policy. This situation leads to various discrepancies and contradictions that damage the rights of members of migrant groups. Without a greater effort to coordinate policies across different levels of government, levels of social tension are likely to increase.

The last two articles in this issue provide some prescriptions for Russia’s migration policy. In “Russia Needs a New Migration Policy,” Sergei Riazantsev argues that Russia’s new migration policy fails to respond to the needs of the time and neglects international experience. He believes that to fulfill its objectives, the state should work to reduce emigration, encourage educational and business migration, make the quota system for foreign workers more transparent, and improve data collection on migration.

Andrei Molchanov’s “Meet the Migrants” presents an official perspective on migration, as the author is a member of the Federation Council. Molchanov highlights the extent of labor migration into the Russian Federation and the problems that it causes both in the labor market and in social interactions involving migrants. He discusses progress in the formulation of official migration policy and seeks to eliminate the link between labor migration and the formation of ethnic enclaves in population centers, which for Molchanov are linked with both illegal activity and the formation of negative attitudes toward migrants among the population. His goals amount to the promulgation of an integration program that would speed the adaptation of migrants and their children to “the cultural norms of Russian society.”

Migration remains a complex and difficult issue for the Russian state and for Russian society. The need for migrant labor is counterbalanced by the danger of rising xenophobic and anti-migrant attitudes among large segments of the Russian population. Successfully balancing these issues is a task at which far more effective states than Russia have failed.

Russian Politics and Law, March 2013 Table of Contents

Volume 51 Number 2 / March-April 2013 of Russian Politics and Law is now available on the mesharpe.metapress.com web site at http://mesharpe.metapress.com/link.asp?id=U3W2355N2437.

This issue contains:

Civil Society in Russian Politics: Editor’s Introduction  p. 3
Dmitry Gorenburg
Quo Vadis?: Prospects for Establishing Civil Society in Russia. A Round-Table Discussion Hosted by Polis  p. 6
Mass Protests in the Context of the Russian Power Regime  p. 77
Anton N. Oleinik

Civil Society in Russian Politics: Editor’s Introduction

In the aftermath of the public protests that accompanied the 2011–12 Russian electoral season, the topic of civil society in Russia returned to a level of prominence it had not had in Russia since the immediate aftermath of the period of mass protest that brought down the Soviet government in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. While many analysts had for years written about the unusually quiescent nature of Russian society, the emergence of mass public demonstrations against an entrenched political regime led some scholars to reevaluate their models of the political behavior of Russian citizens.

Most of the issue comprises the presentations made at a roundtable held by the journal Polis. The roundtable, titled “Quo Vadis? Prospects for Establishing Civil Society in Russia,” shows that there is no consensus on the role and functioning of civil society in present-day Russia, much less on its future prospects, among leading Russian academics. Some of the speakers see civil society as emerging from the organizations that have sought to protect and institutionalize Russians’ political rights over the last two decades. Others argue that these organizations are inherently political and therefore cannot be the basis for a true civil society. As one speaker notes, protests cannot be taken as a sign of the maturation of civil society. Supporters of this viewpoint look instead to various nonpolitical social organizations, including ones focused on establishing organizations that help Russian citizens achieve their material, spiritual, and social needs.

The speakers also disagree on the state’s role in developing civil society in Russia. Supporters of the political point of view primarily see the state as an opponent of efforts to build Russian civil society. Others argue that in present-day Russia, civil society cannot be developed without state involvement. While there are many nuances to the argument, the critical disagreement can be summarized in the debate over whether civil society can function successfully only if social actors and the state cooperate in its development or, on the contrary, if its development requires society to battle against a largely authoritarian state to create space for public political activity. The roundtable participants do not resolve this dispute, which also remains at the heart of divisions among different political currents within the Russian Federation.

In “Mass Protests in the Context of the Russian Power Regime,” Anton Oleinik interprets the mass protests in Russia in late 2011 and early 2012 as a reaction to the prevalence of a special model of power relationships in Russia. He argues that dissatisfaction with the absence of feedback in relations between the state and society played a critical role in spawning the protests, utilizing survey data that shows that this reason was given by more than half of all protest participants as a cause of their participation in a critical December 2011 demonstration, while the more specific reason of indignation about voter fraud (also an indicator of a lack of equitable relations between state and society) was cited by almost three-quarters of respondents.

Oleinik discusses scenarios in which the mass protests are a first step toward the transition from the existing equilibrium of the Russian power regime to a new democratic equilibrium regime, placing an emphasis on two tasks. The first is the need to reform municipal and regional governance, which could act as a school for the next generation of officials, who could transfer their experience to the central level as they rise in the ranks. The second is the need to democratize the functioning of universities, especially those that train members of the future governing elite. As with local administration, the educational institutions could act as training grounds for the next generation of government officials, inculcating democratic values that they would in turn enshrine in state institutions during their subsequent careers.

Since these articles were published in mid-2012, the Russian protest movement has visibly lost steam. Vladimir Putin’s regime not only seems strongly entrenched but has initiated a crackdown on independent nongovernmental organizations that has made it increasingly difficult for societal organizations seeking to build civil society to function. As a result, it may be that in the short term, collaboration with the state or withdrawal from political engagement may be the only ways for independent civil society organizations to survive. The longer term offers a much wider array of possibilities, as the gradual emergence of a true middle class in Russia’s larger cities augurs well for the possibility of the gradual development of preconditions for the development of a civic culture in Russia that may lead Russian citizens to create boundaries for state power.