Vali 1922; people fought for the formation of

Vali
Butaev

Comparative
Government/Politics

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Fall
2017

Russian
Federation

Russian
Federation has a long and interesting history. Many different events
the structure and development of the country. Nowadays, Russia plays
one of the most important roles in our world. Russia is located at
the intersection of different cultures and contains multinational
population and ethno-cultural diversity. Russia is an interesting
country to discuss its issues of ethnicity and religion, try to
predict the future development and economics of the country. How
different country’s issues such as class distinction, equity and
equality, race, religion, nationalism and other political variables
are solved or considered by the state at least. The main goal of this
work is to show weaknesses and struggles which Russia faces on the
road to become a democratic state and if the country can achieve it.
The stability of a democratic State is quite fragile and can be
undone if not properly managed and understood.

To
look at modern problems which Russia faces today, it is better to go
through Russian history and summarize it. After the socialist
revolution which happened in 1917 in Russia, the system of the
Russian state was changed completely by new leaders who came to
power. Communists and people who followed ideas of Karl Marx and the
ideology of the Russian revolution took over. Across the country,
there was the civil war during these years from 1917 to 1922; people
fought for the formation of the new state, which later was known as
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Soviet Union existed
for 70 years and contained 15 Soviet republics. Previously, most of
these republics were parts of the Russian Empire. During Soviet times
existence, the country has raised the social level of education by
using free education system, all people had an access for this
education. But, the question now is if Soviet Union was a really
communistic state.

In
his works, Marx described and developed several different historical
phases which difference consists in the way of ownership or control
of capital. Each of these Marx’s period existed and exist now for
many decades or centuries, it could be until the next phase replaces
it by class struggle. After replaces of all these phases, transitions
and links between phases, humankind would try to reform itself and
improve itself to achieve a better world to live in for everyone.

The
first phase which Marx described in his work was called primitive or
tribal-communism when humans lived in small communities or tribes and
lived a quasi-communistic existence. The main idea of that society
was to share their work and resources were. The main decisions for a
tribe were made together or communally.

During
the ancient period, the first societies, for example, the Roman
Empire, were based on ownership of land and control of labor It was a
hierarchical system. Its noble classes, or we could say the class who
ruled the state, used slave labor, At that time, slavery wasn’t
based on the race, prisoners of military conquests mainly or people
who could not pay debts became slaves mainly. This phase was called
the slavery phase.

After
the slavery phase, there was feudalism. It existed during medieval
times when kings and lords ruled and owned the land. They gave some
parts of their lands to their peasant farmers and let them live and
take care about it, these peasants served their lords and kings, for
example, they return their obedience, tributes and military service.

Capitalism
was the next phase. It is an industrialized system that appeared and
was developed in the 18th century after industrial revolution, it was
based on private ownership, for example, lands and factories. People
wanted to make more money, so capitalists are driven by the profit
motive. In capitalism, labor is supplied by paid workers who are
often used by the heads.

Marx
believed that socialism, which goes after capitalism, is a system
that must replace capitalism by revolution which proletarian class
should start against their leaders. Basically, Marx believed that
socialism should start from the creation of a leadership of the
proletariat, the rule of working classes. Private capital would be
seized by the state; bourgeois privileges and systems of control
would be destroyed.

The
last step should be communism, a utopian society without classes,
divisions of wealth, exploitation or suffering. Its members would
provide what they could and receive what they need. The instruments
of state, for example,different government bureaucracies, police
departments, soldiers and military would disappear because these
spheres would become unnecessary in the communist state.

I
gave this introduction to all phases because it is important to
understand that Karl Marx believed that countries should go through
all these phases if they want to achieve the last phase, communism.
He said that socialist revolution could appear most likely in
countries which have an advanced state of capitalism, possessing a
large and strong industrial sector and big enough mass of industrial
workers, proletarians. On the other side, Russia did not follow any
of these criteria: at that time, Russian economy was mostly agrarian
and industrialization was a really recent development. At the end of
that century, there were about three million Russian industrial
workers, in another words there were only two percent of the
population who were proletarians. So, Marx himself expressed doubts
about Russia’s potential for socialism. writing in 1877 that it
must first abolish peasant communes and move towards a democratic
phase.

On
the other side, Lenin, who was the leader of Bolshevik movement in
Russia, was one of the followers of Marxism, but he did not follow
all Marx’s ideas; Lenin wanted to adapt some of Marx’s theories and
included his own ideas, it helped him to establish a new ideology
which has become known as Leninist-Marxism later. One of the most
important differences between Marx’s and Lenin’s ideas was that
Lenin believed that the capitalist-bourgeois phase in Marxism could
be skipped and you could jump immediately into the socialist phase.
In fact, it was Lenin’s plan how to destroy the bourgeois
Provisional Government in Russia which existed at that time so
quickly after its rise to power. Moreover, he covered this plan by
his ideology. We can say that this could be interpreted either as a
new development or branch in Marxist theory or it was just a plan to
overthought the government. At the end, all these facts were critical
to the future development of the Russia in October 1917 and following
decades.

As
I said, Marx believed that you cannot skip and of these phases that
he established in his works. Countries must go through all these
phases if they want to achieve the last step. So, this fact played a
really important role. It became a big crack and created many
problems for future of Russian communism; moreover, it just shows and
proves that Russia has not achieved real communism.

During
the years of World War II and later the Cold War, Soviet Union has
passed the stage of industrialization, developed light and heavy
industry, metallurgy and high-tech industries in short time, these
developments included space shipbuilding resulted in the first space
expeditions. At the same time, he country has had ideological issues
which appeared as time passed by. Soviet Union was highly depended on
the import of carbohydrates and decline in productivity led to the
decline in the economy in the mid-1980s of the last century. At that
time, the socialist system which existed in USSR became too old and
was in dire need of new reforms because, more and more problems
appeared in the national economy, foreign policy, cold war and human
rights abuses associated with ideological intolerance of ruling
elite. In 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, he changed the
directions and aims of the country. It changed the foreign policy and
affected the openness of Soviet society to the rest of the world,
processes of Perestroika have changed the institutions of
government, and Glasnost, which means openness, expanded freedom of
expression and freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union.
After
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, in republics, which were
the parts of the USSR,
a
phase of self-formation started. Russia was the largest part, which
had always been a foundation for Russian Empire and Soviet Union; it
started a new program to create construction of a market economy.
Russia Federation was involved in some military conflicts in Eastern
Europe and the Middle East, most of them were not coordinated with
other countries, that is why it was criticized by many members of the
United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO).

After
the fall of communism, life in the former Soviet Union did not become
better for bigger part of Soviet citizens, but we should say that
personal liberties expanded. Also, politic views and economic
development was totally changed in Russia during this time, but
these changes also influenced inflation and economic collapse which
happened in the 90s, it increased the level of unemployment, and a
really big reduction of many established social services which
existed in Soviet Union, one of them was health care. So, rebuild a
country from communistic state to capitalistic was one of the most
important issues which Russia faced.
The
legacy of the Soviet Union was critical for a new government enormous
commitment to the Cold War and relations with countries around the
world. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union devoted a quarter of its
gross economic output to the defense sector. At the time, the
military-industrial complex employed at least one of every five
adults in the Soviet Union. In some regions of Russia, at least half
of the workforce was employed in defense plants. The comparable U.S.
figures were roughly one-sixteenth of gross national product and
about one of every sixteen in the workforce. The end of the Cold War
and the cutback in military spending hit such plants very hard, and
it was often impossible for them to quickly retool equipment, retrain
workers, and find new markets to adjust to the new post-Cold War and
post-Soviet era. In the process of conversion an enormous body of
experience, qualified specialists and know-how has been lost, as the
plants were sometimes switching from producing hi-tech military
equipment to making kitchen utensils.

The
second problem was connected to the distribution of workers and
resources. Roughly half of Russia ‘s cities had only one large
industrial enterprise and three fourths had no more than four. So,
the decrease in production caused really serious unemployment and
underemployment. When the Soviet Union collapsed and the economic
ties were severed, the production in the whole country dropped by
more than 50%.
Third,
after the collapse of the Soviet Union, post-Soviet Russia did
establish any functioning systems which could provide social security
and welfare. During the soviet era, all industrial firms were
traditionally responsible for a broad range of social welfare
functions, such as building and creating housing for their
workforces, and managing health, recreational, educational, and
similar facilities, the towns possessing few industrial employers
were left heavily dependent on these firms, which were the mainstay
of employment, for the provision of basic social services. So,
economic transformation created some problems in maintaining social
welfare because all local governments were unable to afford financial
responsibility.
Moreover,
there was the problem of human capital. Soviet population was really
educated at that time. The educational level of science, engineering,
and technical specialties in the Soviet Union was one of the highest
around the world. On the other side, the average Soviet worker was
not well prepared to work in a new changing market economy. The
system suffered (the Russian system has this problem even today) with
cost-effectiveness, efficiency, creativity, and improvements. During
the Soviet era, the need to create employment led to huge
inefficiencies and redundancies in the workforce. In USSR, obedience
was preferred more than creativity; soviet system did not like any
questions or suggestions. So, workers needed to change their mindset
to adapt the new competitive market. Obviously, the adaptation was
extremely difficult, and these changes needed time. Historians think
that period of Russian economical instability was even more difficult
and more protracted than the Great Depression in the United States
which paralyzed world capitalism in 1929. Russia returned to times
of the end and consequence of the First World War, the fall of
Russian Empire, and the Russian Civil War. We can see a big
difference. In 1980, Soviet Union had had problems with supply
shortages, but in the 1990s, at the end of the USSR, when many
products were imported into the country, Russians could not afford
most of these products. Stores were empty during 80s, but in 90s they
had a lot of different good which no one could afford to buy.
One
of the biggest problem which appeared after economic reforms was the
increasing level of poverty and inequality, and it was growing too
fast. Statistic shows that only 1.5 percent of Soviet citizens lived
in poverty in 1988, but at the end of 1993, around 40-50 percent of
people was in poverty. The income had fallen from $72 to $32 per
capita, but at the beginning of 2004, the average has increased from
$32 to more than $100. We should say that the biggest part is
distributed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Russia has one of the
biggest disparity in income in the world.

The
constitution, which was established in 1993, gives too many and
strong powers to the Russian President. Sometimes, people compare
Russia’s presidency with Charles de Gaulle in the French Fifth
Republic Everyone knows about the authority and rights which Russian
President has. He can issue decrees and directives that have the
force of law without legislative review, but they should not
contradict that document or other previous laws. The President has a
power to make so many appointments of key officials. The winner
should get more than 50% of the votes cast. If no one gets more than
50% of all votes, two candidates who got more votes than others are
going to face each other in a run-off election. A the beginning,
presidents had only four years term and could only be re-elected
once, so they can not serve the third term. In 2008, the new
amendment was passed that made 6 years term instead of 4 years.

State
Duma is the lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly. It has more
power because all bills should go through the Duma first. State Duma
reminds me the House of Representatives in the United States.
However, the Duma’s power to force the resignation of the Government
is severely limited. It may express a vote of no confidence in the
Government by a majority vote of all members of the Duma, but the
President of Russia has a power to disregard this vote. There are 450
members in Duma, they are called deputies. At the beginning, seats in
the Duma were elected half by proportional representation with at
least 5% of votes to get a seat in Duma; the other half of them was
elected by single member districts. However, in 2007, the President
Vladimir Putin passed a decree that seats should be elected by
proportional representation with at least 7% of the vote to get seats
in the Duma, this percentage is one of the highest in Europe. By
accepting this decree, Vladimir Putin separated independent parties
and made it impossible to take any seats in the Duma. Now, deputies
are elected for a term of five years, but under the original
constitution in 1993, elections were held every four years. So, half
of the seats are elected by proportional representation from closed
party lists with a 5% electoral threshold with the whole country as a
single constituency. The other seats are elected in single-member
constituencies using the first-past-the-post system.
In
the Russian Federal Assembly, the upper house is the Federation
Council. The analogy is the United States Senate. There are 170
members, who are called senators, in The Council. Each of the 85
federal subjects of Russia has two senators who are in the Council.
One of them is elected by the provincial legislature. The second
senator is chosen by the provincial governor and should be confirmed
by the legislature branch. Terms to the Council are determined
according to the regional bodies the senators represent as a result
of the territorial nature of the upper house.
There
are nineteen judges in The Constitutional Court of the Russian
Federation. In The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation,
there is Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The President appoints judges
with the consent of the Federation Council. The Constitutional Court
is limited subject matter jurisdiction. The constitution gives powers
to the Constitutional Court to solve disputes between the executive
and legislative branches in Russia and between the capital of Russia,
Moscow, and the regional and local governments. Moreover, the
Constitutional Court also has power decide violations of
constitutional rights, to examine appeals from various bodies, and to
participate in impeachment proceedings against the President.
According to the constitution the judiciary branch of government is
independent, but most observers and politicians believe that the
court, the police and prosecution authorities are under control of
the Kremlin and more specifically under control of Vladimir Putin.
Putin
was the President of Russia 3 times: from 2000 to 2004, from 2004 to
2008, and from 2012 to present. For three months in 1999, Putin was a
prime minister of Russia. Later, in 2008, he was a prime minister
again for 4 years, while Dmitry Medvedev was the President of the
country. Putin has been a member of the Unity Party and the United
Russia party. Today, politicians and journalists call his ideology
and aims “Putinism”. At the same time, we should say that
Putin has high domestic approval ratings in Russia, specially today.
Russian politician Boris Nemtsov defined “Putinism” in Russia as
“a one party system, censorship, a puppet parliament, ending of
an independent judiciary, firm centralization of power and finances,
and hypertrophied role of special services and bureaucracy, in
particular in relation to business”. Middle class in Russia is
not strong nowadays if we compare it to the European middle class.
In Russia, it does not show political activism under Putin’s regime.
In December 2007, the Russian sociologist Igor Eidman criticized the
Putin regime as “the power of bureaucratic oligarchy”; he
believes that Russia is under the right-wing dictatorship – the
dominance of state-monopoly capital in the economy, “siloviki” (
this word is used
for people who came to politics from the different security or
military services such KGB, FSB, etc)
rule and establish the governance and stop any progress in the
country.
Boris
Yeltsin was elected in 1991. He became the first President of the
post-soviet Russia. At that time, Vladimir Putin was his hand-picked
successor. In May 2000, Vladimir Putin was elected for his first
term. Later, he was elected for a second term in March 2004.
According to the Russian constitution, he could not be elected for
the third term. In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev, who was a First Deputy
Prime Minister, was elected . With the approval of the Duma, a
President can appoint someone to be a Prime Minister. The role of
Prime Minister has been very much under control of the President.
Also, Prime Minister can become a President in the case of the
President’s death or resignation. The next presidential election in
Russia are going to happen in March 2018. Obviously, Putin will apply
for it, and he will definitely be elected as the President again.

Russian history is difficult and powerful, it shows the rich and
diverse culture which has experience of completely different stages,
such as imperialism, communism and capitalism. Through history,
Russia faced many different and difficult problems inside the country
and outside which came from its neighbors. During the early and last
years of the USSR, Russia suffered many economical and social
instabilities. However, at the beginning of the new century and after
the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian economy improved and
stabilized. Russian citizens started finding new jobs and adapting
the new market, and it helped to build a new culture. We can’t say
that Russia is a democratic state now, Russian political system
suffers now in terms of its democratic institutions, it is drowned by
corruption, and massively affected by the power and personal cult of
the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

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