Russia: Reform Without Revolution?

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Analysts of Russian politics have always faced a conundrum when assessing developments like December’s mass protests in Moscow. Russia has a history of authoritarianism and cultural fatalism that has always discouraged reform. From Peter the Great to Leonid Brezhnev, Russian rulers have shown a near-endless capacity for tricking, co-opting or simply suppressing pro-reform movements. For centuries, developments that in any other nondemocratic regime would signal imminent and inevitable change have routinely failed to breach the Kremlin walls. But in the few historical instances where change has occurred, it has traditionally been rapid and unpredictable. The Bolsheviks took power just months […]

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