Liberalism and Federalism in Russian State-Building, 1992–2017
This chapter investigates the reasons for the contradictions that have arisen in Russia between the post-Soviet liberal reforms in the economy and the conservative policy in state-building. In contrast to purposeful liberal economic reforms, some of the spontaneous decentralization that occurred in the 1990s was replaced with a purposeful centralization of public administration in the 2000s. The chapter discusses the hypothesis that this trend towards centralization of state administration was inevitable in the context of the course taken by President Boris Yeltsin to build state capitalism in Russia, where private businesses are either closely connected with the state-backed entrepreneurs or with state officials themselves. This model of capitalism includes only part of the elements of the concept of liberalism that capitalism generally accepts. Both federalism, and the institutions of democracy, were sacrificed to enable the “liberal reformers” of the 1990s to appropriate state property.