In This Review

Presidential Decrees in Russia: A Comparative Perspective
Presidential Decrees in Russia: A Comparative Perspective
By Thomas F. Remington
Cambridge University Press, 2014, 188 pp

At first blush, there would seem to be a wide gap between a “presidential decree” in the Russian context and an “executive order” issued by a U.S. president. Remington, however, makes precisely that comparison, and he also considers how today’s Russian decrees compare to those issued by the tsars and Soviet rulers. Even in repressive systems, governing is a complex business, and lining up the necessary bureaucratic and legislative pieces involves complicated strategic calculations. Remington, a seasoned and exceedingly careful scholar, concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of issuing presidential decrees on matters as fundamental as institutional reform and as narrow (albeit emotional) as changing the national anthem. In this way, his situation is not dissimilar to the one U.S. President Barack Obama faces when considering whether to work with Congress or govern through executive authority alone.