Putin versus Civil Society: The Long Struggle for Freedom

Issue Date July 2013
Volume 24
Issue 3
Page Numbers 62-74
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The Kremlin faces an existential dilemma. The semiauthoritarianism that has characterized Russia for two decades has within it sufficient basic freedoms, affluence, and access to the outside world to permit the emergence of new social movements that demand transparency, accountability and political participation. Russia has had a great deal of personal freedom but a small circle of people hold an almost complete monopoly on politics. The year 2011–2012 showed that this formula is no longer durable. The middle class is demanding political participation. To maintain a total monopoly on political offices at all levels the Russian government must now limit freedom for the society as a whole. It is not clear that this can be achieved without undermining their own appeal to the public and support within the elite.

About the Author

Leon Aron is resident scholar and director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute. His books include Yeltsin: A Revolutionary Life (2000) and Roads to the Temple: Memory, Truth, Ideas and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987–1991 (2012).

View all work by Leon Aron