Capsule Review

Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin’s Russia

In This Review

Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin's Russia
By Samuel Greene
Stanford University Press, 2014 296 pp. $90.00 Purchase

The image of Russian civil society as passive and cowed by the Kremlin misses the mark, Greene argues in this subtle and well-substantiated study. Greene spent 13 years in Russia observing, thinking about, and talking about the relationship between the Russian state and Russian citizens. That experience forms the empirical foundation for his insightful analysis of Russia’s peculiar form of authoritarianism. He grounds his discussion in an extremely efficient and succinct review of the evolving concept of civil society, beginning with the ideas of Locke and Rousseau and working his way to the theories that dominate contemporary social science. Out of this exercise, he produces his own working definition of the term “civil society”: “the nonviolent means by which individuals collectively seek sovereignty vis-à-vis the state.” By his reckoning, the “sporadic, low-level protests” that occur in Russia and “the antagonistic state responses they generate” suggest that the Russian political scene is less monolithic than it often seems.

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