Another Russia? Putin’s Invented Opposition

Issue Date April 2007
Volume 18
Issue 2
Page Numbers 122-123
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Despite all their difficulties, today’s Kremlin political operators probably calculate that they will be able to protect themselves against the forces that undermined Gorbachev’s reform project in the 1980s—elite division, grassroots mobilization, intractable national problems, and new electoral rules that gave the regime’s opponents a huge opening. Yet they cannot be completely secure as long as they are constrained by these same electoral rules. Running a one-party state is easy enough if you can set the rules yourself and break them at will. But keeping up democratic appearances means taking risks that can empower your opponents.

About the Author

Stephen Sestanovich is professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served from 1997 to 2001 as ambassador-at-large and special advisor to the U.S. secretary of state for the former Soviet Union.

View all work by Stephen Sestanovich