Reading Russia: Tools of Autocracy

Issue Date April 2009
Volume 20
Issue 2
Page Numbers 42-46
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Arguably a flawed democracy in the 1990s, Russia took a distinctly authoritarian turn under President Vladimir Putin from 2000 to 2008. The country now lives under a façade democracy that barely conceals the political and administrative dominance of a self-interested bureaucratic corporation. The regime manufactures consent by means of three tools: information and propaganda campaigns aimed at discrediting and destroying opponents before they enter the political contest; preemption, such as by disqualifying opposition figures from running for office, jailing them, forcing them into exile, or even murdering them; and the steady flow of material benefits for citizens.