Spring 2017

Paradoxes of Putinism

Timothy J. Colton

Vladimir Putin's trademark since taking charge of Russia's government almost two decades ago has been stability. He has achieved much in terms of this master goal, including economic and demographic recovery. But development on the part of Russian society has been juxtaposed with growing rigidity and control-mindedness on the part of the state. The accumulation of economic, social, and foreign-policy problems in recent years naturally raises questions about the sustainability of the current regime. Paradoxically, Putin's personal popularity has not always been matched by confidence in his policies, although the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine gave that confidence a boost. Another paradox is that Russia bucks the global trend that seemingly links social and economic modernization to political democratization. The essays in this issue that follow will probe dimensions of this knot of puzzles.

TIMOTHY J. COLTON, a Fellow of the American Academy since 2011, is the Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis (1995), Transitional Citizens: Voters and What Influences Them in the New Russia (2000), Yeltsin: A Life (2008), and Russia: What Everyone Needs to Know (2016).

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