Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform

In This Review

Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform

By Michael Mcfaul, Nikolai Petrov, and Andrei Ryabov
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2004
366 pp. $50.00

Most agree that at the moment, Russia is neither fish nor fowl, neither a democracy nor a dictatorship. The real question is whether it is frozen in position or still in motion (and if in motion, moving in which direction), and one will not find a better attempt at beginning to formulate an answer than this book. The authors break the topic down into its crucial constituent parts: elections, the constitution, legislative-executive relations, political parties, civil society, the mass media, the rule of law, federalism, etc. Each is then outlined in simple, uncluttered fashion and assessed economically and expertly. Looking across these components, it appears that progress of sorts has been made in virtually every area, but not enough to overcome the remaining obstacles or challenge the rollback that has occurred under Vladimir Putin. The authors seem to feel that Russia cannot remain as it is, and, although current trends are discouraging, hope rests on the fact that little is yet consolidated and the rudiments of something better exist.

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