By Piotr Dutkiewicz, Dmitri Trenin
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Additional info for Russia: The Challenges of Transformation (Possible Futures)
Here enters the need for the presidencyâ•›—â•›the office, the collective, the institution, the prestige, legitimacy, charisma, and the man himself. There emerges a distinct need to find the ideal individual/collective holder of the trusteeship. Who shall/can lead society in a truly revolutionary time of transformation? ” Society is also proneâ•›—â•›as the 1990s showedâ•›—â•›to massive media/political manipulations. Oligarchs and high-level officials were not the best option in 1998 for a ruling group either, as they were engaged in stripping assets and placing them abroad.
Russia does have democratic electoral law, but the electoral mechanism gives considerable influence to the party in power (and the huge bureaucracy that accompanies it). Vladimir Putin is considered by many to be a twenty-first-century incarnation of the tsars, but in reality his powerâ•›—â•›especially in the regions (mainly due to the “autonomous bureaucracy” that is de facto the most powerful socio-economic 12 Dutkiewicz force on its own)â•›—â•›is seriously constrained (see Derluguian, chap. 3).
This also would mean reshaping Russian foreign policy and some portion of the elite’s mentality; but as Russian economic interests are located between Europe and Asia, this becoming a “compatible state but not within the same system” might be a sustainable choice. It would give Russia a firm place within the EU quasi-empire, even if it has been dented recently by deep fiscal problems, guarantee its security, offer better access to the EU market, reinforce Russia’s position as a European power, and form a natural counterbalance to the “China vector” (see Bobo Lo’s chapter in this volume).