The Logic of Russian Presidentialism: Institutions and Democracy in Postcommunism

Thomas M. Nichols


This study began as an investigation into the proverbial "dog that didn't bark," that failure of intuition which often opens the most interesting avenues of inquiry. In this case, the silent dog was an authoritarian Russian Federation: from 1991 onward, there was widespread expectation that it would be only a matter of time before Russia fell back into old habits, and that the experiment with democracy would be little more than an odd footnote in an otherwise unbroken record of autocracy. I am forced to admit that I was part of this chorus of pessimism, and in late 1993-despite the fact that I felt Y eltsin was right to crush the attempted coup of Ruslan Khasbulatov and Aleksandr Rutskoi-I expected little more than that Russia would then descend into some kind of muddled and mild authoritarianism.

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