Power and Ideology: Vladimir Putin and the Russian Political System

Alfred B. Evans


This paper explores the ideas that have been offered by the Putin leadership in Russia to justify the concentration of power achieved since 2000. Though Vladimir Putin has said that Russia does not need a state ideology, since early 2006 some officials associated with Putin, including Vladislav Surkov, have called for an ideology for the dominant United Russia Party, and have asserted that Putin’s speeches provide the core of that ideology. This essay discusses Putin’s position on Russia’s commitment to democracy, the relationship between Russia and Europe, and the nature of the international system in which Russia fi nds itself. The author sees the concept of “sovereign democracy” that has been offered by Surkov and endorsed by United Russia as summarizing ideas that already had been articulated by Putin. Putin’s words strongly emphasize the importance of a consensus of values in Russian society and politics. That theme has important implications for the relationship between the state and civil society in Russia. Evans argues that the ideological pronouncements of the Putin leadership refl ect tension between apparently inconsistent principles resulting from a combination of inherently contradictory themes. Putin identifi es the main danger facing Russia in the contemporary period as disintegration rather than stagnation.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cbp.2008.139


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