POL354 Lecture 3 – Thursday, October 6, 2011
Putin Running for Russian Presidency:
United Russia Party effectively holds all of the power (today). It is the party of which Putin is not a
member but sits as the head of the party.
Meeting on Sept 23/24 Decisions about the leaders roles both during and after the election were made.
The decisions with regards to the nominations of Megvedev and Putin to run.
Putin announced that if he becomes president he would like to elect Megvedev as Prime Minister, would
put Megvedev at the top of the list for duma elections. The Prime Minister is not chosen by parliament, of
head of the majority party. The Prime Minister is nominated by the President and then goes to the duma
for confirmation. Should the duma refuse the candidate the President can make a second nomination (this
can happen 3 times). Should the duma disagree a third time the President can dissolve the duma and hold
elections for a new duma.
The nomination of Putin as the candidate supported by the largest party de facto means that he will
receive the presidency.
There is not going to be an open and fair election for the presidency and duma. The percentages will be
decided a head of time and it will be the responsibility of the leaders to either mobilize voters and get the
vote and/or fraudulent the vote to get close to the percentages they were designated to get. This is an
organized and staged event.
Putin confirmed in his speech that the agreement between himself and the Prime Minister had been
decided several years ago. Megvedev confirms this.
Putin and Megvedev go back to 2005.
This is confirmation that there is the absence of any electoral competition in the country.
The only questions that are still open are what percentage of the votes and seats will the United Russia
party be allocated, and which other countries will be allowed to compete. Who will be allowed to run
against Putin? There are two patterns (1) let the leaders of the other parties run, however in 2004 a
decision was made to let those who were second in power run.
The majority of the country does support Putin, since Putin has brought economic stability to the country.
Unemployment has decreased, and there have been investments in housing/help for the lower classes.
Having economic stability, for Russia, is a fair trade off for having a government with this level of control.
Putin has been obsessed/paranoid about the creation of independent and autonomous organizations in
Despite the ability to manipulate and control the voting results, the leadership of Russia is very concerned
about its public appearance both domestically and internationally.
The Russian State operates on two levels (a visible one and a hidden core one):
1. The outer core is a state that is constituted in terms of institutions and procedures as we would
normally think of a state. Set up to provide an agenda, policies, an administrative structure for
those policies, to provide protection/economic resources/defence.
2. Behind that outer shell you have a series of non-transparent levels where there are various
networks of organizations and individuals that are involved in a range of activities aimed at
advancing their own clan for themselves personally. In a sense it is a type of organized criminal
activity – not subject to law, and operates under its own rule. It has a firm hold; in few countries
do you have organized crime that has taken over control of the state. In Russia we have a massive
penetration and infiltration of the state by these various types of clans.
Thus the state is something more than and other than what it appears to be. The state is connected to
these organizations. These competing clans in the core of Russian politics have reached agreements to
minimize the use of violence and intimidation against each other, which was so evident in the 1990s.
They have come to the understanding that it is better to let your enemies and competitors get their share than fight over it. Thus these organizations have come together. There seems to be no individual with the
will or ability to challenge Putin. Putin is the president because he is the godfather of these clans.
Remember there are certain patterns in terms of Russian modernization. Arguments over
whether modernization should take a European or Russian approach., and the ways in which Russia has
defined its modernization in terms of backwardness with regards to the West. Attempts to modernize
have been undermined by a number of factors including the role of the state.
Lenin’s vision of a modernization process having a socialized nature.
The problems of the transfer of power from the collapse of the old regime through the period of
uncertainty in the provisional government, and Lenin’s revolution in 1917.
The easiest task Lenin has was to get his party into power. Once they seized power they
were confronted with a number of challenges. Lenin wanted to consolidate power in order to transition
from a Tsarist power to a socialist regime. The first problem faced by Lenin was that he took over a
country still at war, and in fact was losing the war. The party itself was uncertain as to what to do about
the war. The more radical elements in the party, particularly Bukharin and Trotsky, argued that the
collapse of the Russian regime and the circumstances of the war should be taken advantage of. Bukharin
further argued that a revolutionary war should be taken throughout the rest of Europe. Believed that
Germany army would revolt against their bourgeois leaders. Argued for ‘neither war no peace’ would
act as a catalyst for the German working class to rise up and over throw their masters, this would lead to
international revolution and enforce Russian success. Lenin disagreed with this and believed there was a
need to consolidate power.
In early 1918, a peace treaty was written; the new Soviet government gave up enormous
amounts of resources (land and capital) in order to allow the Bolshevik regime to consolidate power.
Lenin begins to legitimate the idea that socialism can be built in one country. The party had based its
legitimacy on the idea that the Russian revolution could be carried out on the condition that it would be
served as a spark for worker’s revolutions throughout Europe. Within months Lenin put in place a grand
strategy, War Communism (Militant Communism), Lenin’s new government needed to make a number of
Lenin institutes a decree for the abolition of landed proprietorship without compensation.
All land was supposed to be taken by the local governments and overturned to the state.
This abolished the ownership of land forever in Russia. Lenin is saying to the peasants that
they are going back to feudalism in terms of being tied back to the land. However as
resistance emerged, Lenin recognized this and issued a supplementary decree which stated
that peasants were granted the right to use the land, but could not own it. The reality was
that, in the short term, Lenin wanted to peasants to produce on land, and to give them
whatever incentives were necessary for them to produce at levels to provide for the cities as
well as the armies. Lenin basically conducted an undeclared war on the countryside to
confiscate grain and other productions from the peasants on behalf of the state.
There was strong tension between the peasantry and the government throughout the