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AP Comparative Government and Politics Russia Study Guide
Terms in this set (38)
What is unique about Russian geography
Geographically, Russia is the largest country in the world, encompassing many different cultures and climates.The country spans eleven time zones and is located between Europe, the Islamic World, and Asia. Most of its population is concentrated in both the West and the East, though many of its cities are inland and its history has been shaped by the desire to conquer lands that block its access to the sea. Russia does have many natural resources, including oil, gas, and timer, but most of it is in frozen Siberia and is very difficult to extract. But in the past few years these resources have been developed, fueling significant economic growth.
Describe Marxism and explain how Marxism-Leninism (Soviet-style communism) is different, including the role of vanguardism and democratic centralism.
Marxism is the belief created by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto (1848) that saw capitalism as an economic system that exploited workers and increased the gap between the rich and the poor, and the situation in capitalist countries would become so bad that the proletariat would rise up against the bourgeoise. In this new society the ownership of private property would be banned, and in turn the social class would disappear. Equality and cooperation are encouraged, and without property to encourage greed, governments would become unnecessary and wither away. VI Lenin took ideas of Marxism and created Marxism-Leninism, which is a form of communist rule using the ideologies of democratic centralism, and vanguardism. Democratic Centralism is the theory on which Lenin based his government, in which the "vanguard" who would lead the revolution since the people were incapable of providing leadership themselves . This provided for a hierarchical party structure in which leaders were elected from below. Discussion was permitted by party membership until a decision was made, but then "centralism" took over and the leaders allowed no questioning of the decision after that. In vanguardism, Lenin emphasized the importance of a group of revolutionary leaders who could provoke the revolution in non-capitalist Russia.
Explain the role of the Communist Party starting with Stalin, including nomenklatura, the Central Committee, the Politburo and the General Secretary.
Under Stalin the Communist Party was placed at the center of control. Stalin allowed no other political parties to compete, and leaders where identified through nomenklatura, the process of filling influential jobs in the state, society, or economy with people chosen and approved of the communist party, including not only political jobs but top position s in other areas as well. Most top government officials belonged to the Central Committee, a group of party leaders who met twice a year. Above the Central Committee was the Politburo, who was the heart and soul of Communist Party under Stalin, consisting of a group of about 12 men who essentially ran the country, and whose decisions were carried out by government agencies and departments. The General Secretary was the leader of the Communist Party, who was Stalin from 1927-1953.
Describe the role of collectivization and 5 year plans in the Soviet Union
. Collectivization was the process in which Stalin took land of small private farms and created state run "collective farms". Private land ownership was abolished and these farms were expected to feed workers in the cities who contributed to Industrialization. With the agricultural surplus of these farms, Stalin established Five Year Plans, which was economic policy that set ambitious goals for production of heavy industry, such as oil, steel, and electricity. Both these policies were expected to establish the Soviet Union as a super power.
Describe Stalinism and identify attempts to "de-Stalinize."
Stalinism is the two pronged program of collectivization and industrialization, carried out by central planning, and executed with force and brutality. Nikita Krushchev attempted "de-Stalinization", a process that brought about reforms such as loosening the government censorship of the press, decentralization of economic-decision making, and the restructuring of collective farms. He first began giving his famous "secret-speech" which was written by Lenin before he died in which he criticized Stalin, using the letter to denounce Stalin's rule and practices, especially purges. In foreign policy, Krushchev advocated for "peaceful coexistence", relaxing tensions with the United States. His reforms were criticized as they did not appear to be working, and his failure during the Cuban Missile Crisis led to his removal. He was replaced with the much more conservative Brezhnev, who ended his reforms.
Explain goals of Gorbachev's policies, including glasnost and perestroika and evaluate their success/failure.
Through Gorbachev's policies, he attempted to save the country from economic disaster, and was open to western-style reforms. His program was three pronged, beginning with Glasnost, which allowed for more open discussion of political, social, and economic issues as well as open criticism of the government. This created more problems though, as Russians after so many years of oppression leaned toward open revolt. The second was democratization, which included the creation of a new Congress of People's Deputies with directly elected representatives and a new position of "President" who was selected by the Congress. Many of these new deputies were critical of Gorbachev though, so it just increased internal discord. The third was Perestroika, which was the transfer of many economic powers held by the central government to private hands and the market economy. Specific reforms included the authorization of some privately owned companies, penalties for under-performing state factories, and price reforms. None of Gorbachev's reforms were fully carried out due to the Revolution of 1991, and together were not very successful.
Describe the events that led to the end of the USSR and the creation of the Russian Federation.
In August 1991, "conservatives"(who wanted to abandon Gorbachev's reforms), high ranking Communist Party and Government officials led a coup d'etat tried to remove Gorbachev from office. The coup failed when political protests broke out, and military leaders defected rather than supporting their leaders. Protests were led by Boris Yeltsin, the newly elected President of the Russian Republic. Gorbachev was restored to power, but eleven republic s had already declared independence. The union was ended and the fifteen republic went their separate was, but Yeltsin emerged as the President of the largest and most powerful republic, known as the Russian Federation. The Constitution of 1993 was eventually established, creating a three-branch government, with a president, prime minster, lower and upper house, and a Constitutional Court.
Explain the policies of Yeltsin, including Shock Therapy, and describe the effects of these policies.
Under Yeltsin the Constitution of 1993 was put into place, and the country underwent Shock Therapy, which was an immediate market economy. The economy did not immediately respond, and Oligarchs took over as Yeltsin's constant sickness and alcoholism caused him to resign, allowing PM Vladimir Putin to become acting President. At first Putin upheld and supported Yeltsin's reforms but he was a much more conservative leader and gradually retreated significantly from the democratic reforms.
Analyze the Russian Constitution of 1993. Are there any parts of the constitution that have not been "upheld" under Putin
Putin has significantly retreated from the commitments that Yeltsin made to the establishment of democracy. The fact that he honored the Constitution of 1993 by stepping down as president at the end of his term is countered by his remaining on as prime minister. Most people believe he still controlled policy making in Russia. He ran again for president and was reelected in 2012. His decision to run shapes the path russia takes as it balances it's authoritarian past with democratization of the present.
Explain why Russia is considered to be an illiberal democracy.
The constitution of 1993 sets the government up to have democratic structures, therefore there are some elements of a democracy but it does not have all the practices that a substantive democracy has especially because it has a history of authoritarianism and authoritarian tendencies. It does not have a strong civil society and there is a dominant party system in which one large party directs the political system but small parties exist and may compete in elections. (1) elements of democracy: elections (referendum, Duma elections, presidential elections) Non democratic practices: Putin's continued dominance reflects the history of authoritarianism. Putin appears to be placing new restrictions on civil society by establishing state corporatism, where the state determines which groups have an input into policymaking, similar to the Soviet Union' state corporatism model where authorities argued that only the party could represent the people's interests, so state sponsored organizations appeared with the government clearly in control of channeling the voice of the people. Nashi is seen as an arm of an increasingly authoritarian state because it receives grants from the government. Media has come under government control. Linkage institutions: still not strong in Russia because parties have been highly unstable and fluid, undermining attempts at democracy.
Explain how Asymmetric Federalism differs from Federalism and why Russia has this form of federalism.
In Russia there is asymmetric federalism, in which some regions (85 in total, 21 are ethnically non Russian by majority) are much stronger than others, so power is devolved unequally across the country. In federalism, power is divided between the central government and its subunits, with each regional body getting an equal amount of power. This form of federalism developed under Yeltsin, as many regions are called "republics" because the central government was not as strong, and they essentially ruled themselves independently. This was also done to deal with ethnic and regional cleavage, as an attempt to keep them from seeking independence. Because of this, republics have the right to establish their own official language and have their own constitution.
Describe how Putin has weakened regional authority and has centralized power.
Putin weakened regional authority and has centralized power through man actions, such as (1) military force on Chechnya (2) Creation of Super districts (power vertical: recentralization of power in the Kremlin) , in which seven new federal districts were created to encompass all of Russia, with each being headed by a presidential appointee (3) Removal of Governors, with a new law allowing the president to remove a governor from office who refuses to subject to local law or the national constitution (4) Appointment of Governors, created by a measure in 2004 that ended the direct election of regional governors. They are now nominated by the President and confirmed by the regional legislature (5) Changes in Federation Council, as Putin prohibited council officials (governors and Duma heads of each region) from serving themselves, although they were still allowed to appoint council members (6) Elimination of single-member-district seats in the Duma (changed to mixed this year)
Define Presidential/Parliamentary system (Hybrid).
System that borrows aspects from both Presidential and Parliamentary Systems
What features does it have in common with a presidential system and A parliamentary system
Presidential system similarities: there is a president that's directly elected on a fixed election cycle, the president may veto Duma legislation, and the president may be impeached. It is similar to a Parliamentary government because the Prime Minister is the head of government and can be removed by a vote of no confidence.
Identify the current head of state and head of government in Russia. What are their titles
Head of State is the President, which is Vladimir Putin. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister, which is Dmitri Medvedev.
How is the president elected, what is 2nd round voting, and how many years is a president's term / Term limits
The President is directly elected for a six year term, with a limit for two terms. The Second Round voting system is used in Russia, in which a voter places a ballot for a single candidate, but if no candidates receive a majority, those candidates who do not meet a certain threshold or two candidates are chosen for a second round of voting.
Describe the powers of the president in Russia. Identify any checks on the president's power.
The President has the power to appoint the prime minister and cabinet, issue decrees that have the force of the law, and can dissolve the Duma. The President can also call a state of emergency or referendum, impose martial law, or suspend actions of other state organs. The President can be impeached, but it is a extremely difficult process. The legislature has proven to be only a very weak check on executive power.
Explain the changes Putin has made to further strengthen the power of the president.
Same as how Putin centralized power
How is the prime minister chosen, What are the PM's powers, and Identify any checks on the PM's powers (including vote of no confidence).
The Prime Minister (whose official title is the Chairman of Russia) is nominated by the President but must be approved by Duma. But, if they reject the appointment three times, the President may dissolve the Duma. The PM is in charge of the federal budget, monetary policy, upholding Russian tradition and culture, national security, protect the freedoms of citizens. The PM has very little power compared to the President (expect for when Putin was PM) but his power can be check with two repeat votes of no confidence in three months, which results in his removal.
Identify the type of legislature found in Russia.
Identify the upper house. How are members selected and What is its role
The upper house is Federation Council, whose role is to represent the regions of the Russian Federation. Two members from each of the 85 subunits are Councilors, with one chosen by the governor of each region (who is appointed by Putin) and the other by the regional legislature. Is powers include delaying bills (Duma overrides with 2/3 vote), approving presidential appointees and presidential decrees involving martial law and state of emergencies, and has the power to change boundaries of republics, ratify use of armed forces outside the country and appoint and remove judges
Identify the lower house. How are members selected and What is its role
The lower house is the Duma, whose 450 deputies are elected through mixed representation (half FPTP, half PR) for five year terms. The Duma's powers include passing bills, approving budget, confirming presidential appointments. Its powers are limited though, as the President may rule by decree, can't really impeach the President or reject PM
What is the legislature's relationship to the other branches
It is a weak check on executive power, explain the limited power of the Duma
Describe the role of the Judiciary.
The Constitution of 1993 attempted to build a judicial system that us not controlled by the executive through its creation of the Constitutional Court
What is the difference between the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court
The Constitutional Court is comprised of 19 members who are appointed by the resident and approved by the Federation Council. They have the power of judicial review (can check the constitutionality of laws and other official actions of the government) but tries to not confront the President , resolves conflicts regarding constitutionality of federal/regional laws & jurisdictional disputes between institutions. The President, 1/5 of either house, citizens may request court to look at a case. The Supreme Court serves as the final court of appeals in criminal and civil cases
What is the Judiciary's relationship to the other branches
Both courts have been actively involved in policy making, but their independence from the executive (which was a goal of the constitution) is questionable. One problem is that many prosecutors and attorneys were trained under the Soviet legal system, so the judiciary currently suffers from a lack of expertise in carrying out the responsibilities outlined in the constitution.
Evaluate the extent of rule of law in Russia. What role does corruption play?
Rule of law: supersedes the actions and statements of individual rulers. Movement toward the rule of law continues to be blocked by corruption in state and society and by the political tradition of allowing the security police to operate autonomously. During the Soviet period, domestic security was carried out by the KGB, but since 1991, its functions have been split up among several agencies. The Federal Security Service is the main domestic security agency, and no member or collaborator of the Soviet era security has been prosecuted for violating citizen's rights. Although security police are often seen as one of the least corrupt state agencies, society wide corruption is a major problem - at least half the population is involved in corruption in daily life. Ex) people pay bribes for automobile permits, school enrollment, proper health care, and favorable court rulings. This corruption not only impedes the rule of law, but puts a drag on economic development- so much money is siphoned off for bribes. Putin has tried to battle corruption, but it's difficult to eliminate because it is so embedded in Russian culture.
Describe the status of the military in Russia.
Very weak role of military. The armed force has no political power at all. They have increased in status with military victories in Chechnya and Ukraine. Supported by slavophiles. Their status has improved.
Describe elections in Russia.What type of electoral system is used in Russia for the State Duma. How has it changed in recent years?
Old rule allowed half of Duma seats to be elected by FPTP and others proportionally, which allowed many minor parties to capture Duma seats. In 2005, Putin changed to purely proportional system that eliminated candidates that were regionally popular. This year, changed back to mixed.. Now electoral system is mixed, some are first past the post and some proportionality but used to be just proportiality.
How is referenda initiated? How has referenda been used historically in Russia?
Is initiated by President Historically: Boris Yeltsin called for a referendum on his job performance, people supported his reforms and in referendum in favor of new constitution . There was a regional referendum held in Chechnya in 2003 to approve a constitution for the area- approved and declared "inseparable". 1993 referendum for Yeltsin's constitution (69% approved by population), another in Chechnya asking if they wanted to be a part of Russia and they said yes
Explain why political parties have been unstable in Russia.
There is no strong opposing political parties to dominating party. Russians put their party and electoral systems together almost overnight after the Revolution of 1991. many small, factional parties ran candidates in the first Duma election in 1993, 43 on the ballot in 1995, down to 26 by 1999. many parties revolved around a particular leader or a particular group. With these fluctuations, citizens had no time to develop party loyalties - leadership continues to be personalistic, parties remain weak and fluid.
Identify the current type of party system in Russia.
Multi-party system though dominated by one party
Identify social cleavages in Russia.
The most important cleavage in the Federation of Russia is nationality. Most people are Russian but there are sizable amount of Tatars, Ukrainians, Armenians, Chuvashia, Bashkirs, Belorussians, and Moldavians. These cleavages are what makes Russia a federation, with autonomous regions, regions are determined by ethnicity. Most would like to have their independence but benefit by being part of the russian federation with the exception of Chechnya which is a primary Muslim Region who has fought for independence. Social class is another large cleavage in Russia. There has always been this divide in russia beginning with noble/ peasant distinction in tsarist russia, and then in the communist regime between communist members and non members. In the new budding economy a new socio economic class is forming with entrepreneurs that have recently amassed fortunes from new business opportunities. There are also rural and urban clevages exist in russia. Industrialization since stalin has led to an increasingly urban population with about 73% of all russians now living in cities. The economic divide between city and urban is large. City dwellers are much more in touch with western culture.
Explain key components of Russian political culture. What role has history played in shaping this culture?
There is a large mistrust of the government, as many people support deomcratic ideals but do not trust the government to carry them out. statism, or the idea that the state should have an active presence in the lives of its citizens, is also valued as a result of reverting to USSR tendencies. The issue of Westernization is also important, as it follows the old divide between Slavophiles vs Westerners
(1) Deference to Power
(2) Misrust of Government
(3) Statist and Collectivist Tendencies
(4) Desire for order/ stablity at the expense of personal freedoms
Analyze the ability of civil society to flourish in Russia. Identify obstacles.
Civil Society is organizations and associations outside of poltics, and their existence in Russia is extremely underdeveloped. Many are not involved in sports clubs, religous bodies or even believe they belong to a poltical party (1% do) While the USSR used a State Corporatist model when dealing with civil society, many have developed in the Russia Federation to express points of view on different issues (environmenet, ethnicity, human rights). But since Putin's reelection in 2012, restrictions have been placed on the groups actvities, especialy if they are critical of the government. The Kremlin does not attack the groups, but rather weakens them using a number of tactics (investigating sources of income, making registration with authorities difficult, and police harassment)
Analyze the role of Russian youth groups. Why were they created? What do critics say?
Russian Youth Groups such as Nashi were created by President Putin to build a following of loyal, patriotic young people and to defuse any youthful resistance. In this way they serve as a poltical arm of the government, receiving grants from the government and large businesses. Critics equate Nashi and groups like it (Youth Guard and Locals) to the youth wing of the communist party
Describe current major public policy issues in Russia today. How do they reflect either fragmentation or integration/globalization?
What impact do they have on the economic development of Russia?
(1) Foreign policy: CIS (Commonwealth of Indepedent States composed of 9 former republics of USSR) is weak and divided by nationality. The Crisis in Ukraine: annexed Crimea (a pro-Russia region in Ukraine) after controversial elections and decisions of President led to a coalition government in favor of EU. Relations in West are difficult, epecially with the US
(2) Terrorism: Number of acts of terror in recent years, Putin responds by strengthening the central government, which is controversial
(3) Population Issues: in recent years there has been a dramatic drop in Russia's overall population due to a low birth rate and poor health habits. Economic hardships have also contributed to this trend as well as extremely low life expectancy
(4) Recentralization of Kremlin: Putin's reform of Duma elections and selection sof regional governors are a part of recentralization of the Kremlin. The Kremlin controls the Duma with 53% of seats, tries to limit power of oligarchs, has a hand in major television stations and gs gaint Gazprom. Could be a sign of end of democratc experiemnt, repsonse to terrorism, or just alternation between reform and conservatism. Putin as PM also shows centralization of power
(5) Development of Civil Society: includes both a public and private life in which people act with respect though gov't is not watching (demo and capitalism rely on strong civil society) Russians dont' necessarily share the assumptions (value on life, liberty, and property) that civil society is based on, respond more to statism (role of strong gorvernment)
Explain the difference between civil liberties and political rights.
Describe how both have declined under Putin - give specific examples.
Based on the above, what type of regime does Russia currently have?
Civil Liberties involve the promotion of freedom within a society, which includes the right to free speech and assembly, while poltical rights refers to the promotion of equality. The two tend to overlap, but both have seemed to decline under Putin. For example, the influence of the Kremlin on Russia media lead to a decline in civil liberties, as the right to freedom of speech is limited as journalists refrain from criticizing the government. Poltical rights have also declined, as citizens no longer vote for their regional governor, as it is now appointed by the President. As a result, Russia is considered a hybrid regiime (presidential-parliamentary) but also a semi/soft-authoritarin one
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