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the Kremlin's attack on Yukos began, spurred by Mr Khodorkovsky's use of economic and political clout to interfere with government reforms, a debate has raged about where it is all leading.He was caught bribing officals

the attack on Yukos took place - not coincidentally - just before the parliamentary elections, and influenced their results.

The authorities' conflict with Russia's largest oil company has brought about a crisis within the political elite, and has ultimately led to a key shift within Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

As a result, the 'old' Kremlin elite has lost its one-time significance and political influence, which it had acquired thanks to the former president Boris Yeltsin. Furthermore, the "Yukos affair" brought about serious changes in the relations between government and big business - the business representatives have been ultimately deprived of any possibility to act autonomously.

The "Yukos affair" has been a catalyst for a fundamental transformation in the Russian oil sector and the energy sector as a whole. As a result, it has become the key element of these sectors' reorganisation, and has led to the strengthening of the state's position in this sector and the restoration of the state officials' domination thereof.

The Kremlin's policy towards the oil sector started changing radically after the presidential elections in March 2004. This was a result of the attack on Yukos, but was also to an extent one of the reasons for this attack. After the elections, the government made noticeable attempts to establish a 'national' oil company controlled by the Kremlin.
This is Russia's "managed democracy" in action. It is a system that preserves competitive elections while doing everything possible to predetermine the outcome. Or, in the words of one Russian political consultant: "Democracy is where the authorities arrange elections. Managed democracy is where the authorities arrange the elections and the result."

Mr Putin's many supporters say that, for now, it is the model Russia needs. After seven decades of communism and with little tradition of democracy, this vast and ethnically diverse country cannot slip seamlessly into a western-style political system, as many of its former east European satellites did. Left to their own devices, say these supporters, most Russians would still vote communist or nationalist. A transition period of strong rule is needed to allow market reforms to create a middle class espousing democratic values.

Yet although he and United Russia could probably win without manipulation, Mr Putin has tugged further on the political reins. In his first term he brought under state control two national television channels and several newspapers previously controlled by oligarchs. The Yukos case, when Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, was jailed for fraud after revealing political ambitions, demonstrated the ruthlessness with which the authorities are prepared to use the legal system to neutralise a potential opponent.

The political tightening has continued since Mr Putin's re-election. The Kremlin used the Beslan terrorist siege as a pretext to extend its control over Russia's 89 regions, ending direct elections of governors in favour of presidential nominees who must be approved by elected regional parliaments. It also passed a law requiring proportional representation for elections to the Duma, phasing out constituency seats that had enabled independent candidates to enter parliament.
Activities which reflect the formal constitution & other administrative behaviors which are para-constitutional. (regime preferences, factions)

Formal & Informal Politics "Managed Democracy

Russia today is characterized by two competing political orders. The first is the constitutional state, regulated by law and enshrining the normative values of the democratic movement of the late Soviet period and contemporary liberal democracies, populated by political parties, parliament, and representative movements and regulated by electoral and associated laws. The second is the administrative regime, which has emerged as a tutelary order standing outside the normative state although not repudiating its principles.

Owing to its ambiguity and internal conflicts, the emerging political system is characterized as a 'dual state', in which the constitutional state is routinely challenged by an administrative regime that subverts the rule of law and stymies genuine electoral competition

More specifically, Sakwa argues that: a dual state has emerged in which the legal-normative system based on constitutional order is challenged by shadowy arbitrary arrangements, dubbed in this book the 'administrative regime'

In other words, while a typical array of democratic institutions has been created within a constitutional framework, a parallel system has emerged that claims certain prerogatives that transcend the rules and constraints of the constitutional state.

This 'prerogative state', or as I call it, administrative regime (Verwaltungsstaat), represents a distinctive case of 'domain democracy', where the rules applied to the rest of society do not apply to itself.

Russian politics is thus characterised by the dominance of a powerful yet diffuse administrative regime that recognises its subordination to the constitutional state on the one side and its formal accountability to the institutions of mass representative democracy on the other. However, it is not effectively constrained by either, hence the 'regime' character of the dominant power system. At the same time it would be an exaggeration to suggest that a full-blown 'prerogative state' has emerged in Russia, ruling through emergency decrees and sustained repression (which would define Russia as a full-blown authoritarian state); but at the same time democratic institutions are subordinate to the regime and vulnerable to its arbitrary rule.