Inertia Russian Politics

In spite of changes in values and in official and symbolic systems, actual transformation of the Russian political system is hindered by institutional inactivity. No values revolution happened in Russian politics during the 2000s. Institutional inactivity and the appearance of a market have substituted values and act as a palliative. Habitually informal institutions stay dominant, embedded in a fresh institutional structure that has conferred legality on particular institutions such as elections along with democracy elements and practices of leaders interaction that previously prevailed in the Soviet Union. The change of values and rhetoric during the 2000s headed for paternalism and traditionalism too indicated not basic values inherent to the state but the unchanged old institutional practice.

Inertia in Russian Politics

The mechanisms maintaining institutional inactivity have to do with the changeover from an erratic interplay amongst self-controlling mid-level political structures on the building of a controlled system. Consequently, the significance of standards in Russian politics has been critically overstated relative to the somewhat conservative mechanisms through which political institutions in reality function. Perpetually, the continuing changes in Russian politics are taken as expressions of the determination of the ruling leaders. Most scholars consider the progress of the political system as reliant on particular political resolutions, strategies of power, and redistribution of wealth (Chenko, 2012).

On nearer examination, still, political decisions seem less deterministic in terms of their actual consequences, these strategies seem all too predictable, and the reorganization of resources amongst the elite turns out to own only secondary authority on politics. Viewed alongside the backdrop of stubbornness by the Russian leading elite, the nation’s political system exhibits with increasing clarity a definite developmental inactivity. Its current impact can be traced directly in the most diverse spheres of governance and social relations. Inactivity is not simply a constraint and central structural element in the progress of the political structure but one of the main conditions controlling its reproduction. Furthermore, inertial mechanisms profile both the institutions and the contemporary values of the Russian politics. The symbolic theory of a “values deficit” is structured to reflect less lack of values as their dislocation by social traditions and routine. It is imperative in this context to recognize two things—firstly, how inertial mechanisms alleviate the established institutional practices of political relations in Russia; and secondly, how political standards are inserted into this conventional order.

Values in politics

Russian scholars survey with rising frequency, “Russians’ view of the fundamental value components of democracy varies little from that in nations with a developed democracy. Those observations are seen as a positive sign, indicative of society’s advancement on the route to democracy. The rational corollary, still, of a distance between “what is in society’s minds” and “what is in realism” only obstructs the resolution of research problems, fundamentally obscuring the exact picture of what is happening in society.

Without question, the broad ideological situation of political interaction adjusted in the beginning of 1990s. Nonetheless, attempts to characterize the reforms in the state as a “revolution of values” might obscure the internal mechanisms and sense of the revolution of the sociopolitical structure in totality (SCHRAEDER & RIGGS, 2005).

Neither the “inner repair” of the Soviet political structure carried out by Gorbachev’s leaders under the sayings of “rebuilding” perestroika nor the unprompted adoption of egalitarian institutions in the beginning of the 1990s rested on a solid base of values.

All that happened in Russian politics throughout the period of “building a new nation” in the early 1990s was nothing more than the unplanned stripping away of past ideals and the disorganized production of fresh symbolic meanings. In these conditions, neither the standards themselves nor the situation into which they were introduced acquired significance. Instead, importance shifted to the mechanisms through which these values were made, processed,” and lastly made a functional ingredient of the rising political order. The fresh democratic values were enforced to amend to the institutional technicalities of community interaction. Viewed against the conditions of the many reforms and structural changes of the 1990s, the institutional atmosphere of the Russian political structure demonstrated outstanding resilience in the face of outwardly imposed change. The creation of the fresh Russian state and the fundamentals of the total political order is habitually linked with the import of democratic institutions: specifically, with the adoption of Western forms of governance in Russian.

Under Russian state of affairs, the institutional complexity of the political system experienced no fundamental adjust: its rebirth was largely a pretense, and there was no equality among imported and customary rules. In essence, the introduction of egalitarian institutions into Russia resulted to adoption of fresh rules of the game in situations where such introduction benefited definite actors in definite situations.

In realistic terms, all major democratic institutions—the division of authority, the multiparty system, federalism—persisted in the “fresh” post-Soviet political actuality only as a group of sketchy, abstract rules, partly appropriated and replicated by the intorduced institutional matrix. The situation simply becomes extra ambiguous if we consider the significance of the subjective aspect in the restructuring of the Russian political structure and the strategic purpose of the leading elite itself. Overall, “fundamental institutional change was objectionable to the new authorities and unintended by them.” Therefore, in particular, the 1993 charter a document introduced to serve elite wellbeing of the moment in a clear set of past conditions stipulated the principle of the disconnection of powers. The leading elite attached influential political importance to the definite allocation of powers amongst the diverse branches of government, and the resultant constitutional standards were written with a particular person in mind (Riggs & Schraeder, 2004).

 Consequently, the separation of authority as embodied in the Constitution indirectly stating “All authority to the president; anything else prevails at the formality level.” In political system, the powers separation leads to a struggle amongst selected groups and an unrestrained reallocation of resources. The emerging situation was a system in which aspects of the political system were not only sovereign but ‘master-less’ and each existed in accordance to its self plan.”Not least amongst the results of this “masterlessness” was a new democratic novelty of the newly introduced multiparty system. The quick surfacing of parties and the diversity of their declared ideologies developed the fantasy of a natural “development of democracy” fueled by the reforms being performed. In most circumstances, still, the formation of a party was basically equal to the official institutional listing of a definite elite group; tremendously hardly ever did such organizations meet even the least criteria for the functioning of a characteristic party organization. Hence, the multiparty system simply meant the “fragmentation of the former conservative structure.”However, the introduction of federal institutions might have exhibited the utmost contradictions. Stretched out a number of years, this reform indicated the almost total lack of any clear plan of execution (Robinson, 2012).

Fresh rules of the game existed only in areas that matched to the planned desires of the leaders, and the provisional compromises among the center and the regions, for instance, the Federal Treaty signing proved delicate, unsteady in content, and awfully ambiguous in regards to political consequences. Though the federal privileged relations with the non-ethnic areas (oblasts and krais) changed a little, relations among the center and the ethnic republics stayed a matter of secret negotiations, that had become an daily practice in Soviet era. In this context, the key contours of the “fresh” Russian federalism previously created in the Soviet era, and its present constitutional semblance was nothing more than a “kind of transference of the Soviet “nomenklatura”.

New Values and Old Customs

The inactivity of institutional growth became an important characteristic of the Russian political structure. The reproduction of a steady compound of social standards and mechanisms of interaction held a much bigger impact on the way it operated than the abundant structural repairs, change of headship, and programs of government leaders. The greatly revealed political measures of the 1990s formed the sensation of a quickly and drastically transforming political reality. At the starting of the subsequent decade, this impression had passed, and a view at the immediate history revealed that following the “doubt” and “disorder” stood the apparent logic of the institutional growth of Russian politics. Unprompted political decisions, secret deals, and an anarchic setting were, in fundamentally, its natural manifestations. Alongside a backdrop of widespread change in the official regulations of the game, the means for the creation of power coupled with its organic association to society stayed unchanged. The inertial circumstances of the history, the reproduction of a steady matrix of social principals and behavioral models, set the political structure in motion (Pain, 2012).

Nevertheless, under current setting, a rationalized political backdrop hides the exploit of these mechanisms. Russian benefaction has modified itself to the existing institutional design and modified the latter ‘to itself.’” Equally, the latest institutional structure has ensured, “a cautiously measured gauge of competition and sincerity and, conversely, the regular reproduction and functional magnitude of private ties, shady transactions and patrons networks. In these conditions, institutional inactivity can verify not only the “politics mechanics” but additionally, to a substantial degree, its values. The notions of a “values vacuum” aggressively utilized by Russian scholars indicate an unreal “shortage” of normally shared values as the particular nature of the mechanisms accessible for their reproduction. Archaic and simple kinds of control, a belief in rites that replicates faith, customary rituals, phobias, injustices, and myths that authorize various social norms balance for the values shortfall (Gorenbur, 2011).  

 In essence, the introduction of institutions masked the steady reproduction of social customs, which in the course of action obtained a fresh kind of “symbolic envelope. Notably, a value can well be accepted and shared by many of citizens, however, its existence in social life might become simply a simulation, since the same action of the mechanisms which introduce this value to existence is at conflict with its regulatory content. Despite general endorsement of the body of elections, its real “work” decreased downwards to routine of a habitual ritual. This is a rite without substance but essential to the normal operation of state structures and with foundations that is positioned in the Soviet election tradition.  This is in absence of alternatives, with their values of civil duty and exchange of ideas with the government authorities.

It is imperative to highlight that the actual democratic elections value offered a fig leaf for social practices, a particular mechanism of relations, not for a customary value inherent to Russian political traditions. For specifically this reason, what happened in Russian politics was not a replacement of values. Consequently, phenomena that persons today regularly perceive as conventional values entrenched in the Russian ethnic grouping, in fundamental nature, show habitual patterns of institutional growth. Thus, paternalism, which many scholars describe as a “natural” characteristic of Russian political civilization, is not so much a summary desire of the Russian mind for an established complexity of practices differentiated by the steadiness of its reproduction in shifting political circumstances. Therefore, the scholar does not require to establish the existence of a birth trauma. Rather, he or she ought to examine “paternalistic tendencies” to expose institutionally accustomed mechanisms to replicate power relations and understand how these mechanisms prevail within hierarchical systems of governance, centralized administrative procedures, established systems of subordination, along with the benefactor–client arrangement. It is analytical that the authoritarian and paternalistic characteristics diagnosed in modern Russian politics do not mirror the intentional inculcation of traditional values. In contrast, they prove to the ruling privileged failure to create a carefully planned and consistent ideological rationalization for its reform agenda (Gorenbur, 2011).

For about two decades, the government has proved unqualified of presenting logical ideological policies legitimizing the political class that has appeared in the country. Many attempts of this kind have focused on the execution of little ideological projects and intended at justifying changes in a particular public subject, reinforced by the universal rhetorical arguments of a strong state and special traditions. These minute projects originally reflected short-term leaders strategies and were later modeled by the inertial means of the political scheme. One such illustration was the rationalization of the necessity to build a “power vertical” an explanation that legitimized widespread reforms in nation building and centralized relations at the start of Putin’s period in power. In the initial times, “building the vertical” would have been considered the main item on the government policy agenda, however, the “vertical” quickly came to be utilized as a symbol for Putin’s presidency. Lately, scholars have developed more and more queries regarding the concept’s feasibility. One affiliate of the state influential who participated in a questionnaire on local policy evaluated its future directly: saying that if is money available to finance, the ‘vertical’ works it would work.  However, if there are no finances, then the ‘vertical’ is disabled. The United Russia party, an additional government project extremely procedural in nature but at the same time properly designed to maintain the philosophy of the ruling influential utilizes quite related operational mechanisms. Distant from possessing any of the unique features of a classic party, United Russia has resulted, to adopt the slogan, “electoral–administrative machine.” Hence, in organizational language it is a hierarchical patrons organization based on the ideology of liability, subordination, and corporativism, thus replicating its functioning as a system of influential relations that is entirely conventional for Russian politics


Chenko, M. (2012). Inertia in Russian Politics.: Find articles, e-books in one search. Retrieved July 14, from

Gorenbur, D. (2011). The Nature of the Russian Political System.: Find articles, e-books in one search. Retrieved July 14, from

GorenburG, D. (2011). The Future of the Russian Political System.: Find articles, e-books in one search. Retrieved July 14, from

Pain, E. (2012). Special Characteristics of the Post-Soviet Political Regime.: Find articles, e-books in one search. Retrieved July 14, from

Riggs, J. W., & Schraeder, P. J. (2004). Russia’s Political Party System as an Impediment to Democratization. Demokratizatsiya, 12(2), 265-293

Robinson, N. (2012). Institutional factors and Russian political parties: the changing needs of …: Find articles, e-books in one search. Retrieved July 14, from

SCHRAEDER, P., & RIGGS, J. (2005). Russia’s Political Party System as a (Continued) Impediment to Democratizat…: Find articles, e-books in one search. Retrieved July 14, from

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