A Normal Country? Civic Acquiescence in Historical Perspective

Monday 15 April 2024, 3 pm - 4 pm

Russian society failed to mount effective resistance to increasingly authoritarian political trends, and ultimately acquiesced to the war on Ukraine turning Russia into a pariah state. This failure reflects the virtual absence, save a few isolated instances, of the Russian civil society from the political domain throughout the country’s post-Soviet period. This pattern is often ascribed to path-dependencies, either centuries-old, or more recent, rooted in the early years of the Russian transition.

We find support for the latter view in the dynamics of Russian institutions and norms and values in the society, which co-evolved over the last three decades in a deteriorating manner, set in motion at a critical juncture in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The critical juncture effect is revealed by a comparative analysis placing Russia among other transition economies. Such analysis demonstrates that political competition, checks and balances, and government accountability to the society in the early 1990s were strong predictors of the emergence of inclusive institutions, such as the rule of law, corruption prevention and voice and accountability, sustained over the ensuing period into the present time. Vice versa, a lack of checks, balances and inclusivity at the critical juncture foreboded the emergence and entrenchment of extractive institutions, protecting economic and political monopoly of the ruling elites.

Monday 15 April 2024, 3 pm - 4 pm
Leonid Polishchuk (Indiana University)
EOS 00.270