The purpose of this article is to analyse Russia’s ongoing modernization and assess its potential for reviving the economy. The modernization launched by President Dmitrii Medvedev in 2009 represents an extension of the economic reforms that had been discontinued after 2004. The article identifies the main problems modernization needs to address and investigates proposed measures. Focus is on the economic-institutional aspects of the modernization programme and the structural problems of the economy. The main findings are that the modernization policy is based on a thorough analysis of the structural problems of the economy and contains a long list of reasonable proposals, but that it is based on a top-down approach, that many problems require political reform rather than economic, and that insufficient attention is given to creating good conditions for expansion and innovation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). In addition it is argued that the Russian authorities underestimate the crucial role of civil society and political institutions in the modernization of the economy.
Russia’s policy in the Transnistrian conflict is often portrayed as an example of Moscow’s imperialist agenda; as proactive and manipulative; and as secondary to Russia’s global, great power ambitions. This article re-assesses Russia’s Transnistria policy from the fall of the Soviet Union until the end of 2010. It finds that Russian policy is better understood as post-imperialist than imperialist; that it has been largely reactive, responding to developments beyond Moscow’s control; and that the regional security situation, rather than global great power ambitions, has been the most immediate cause for change in policy. In light of these re-assessments, in conclusion the article briefly considers the place of Russia’s Transnistria policy in Moscow’s policy towards the post-Soviet space in general, as well as the importance of these findings for a possible solution to the Transnistrian conflict.
Research into the root causes of corruption in post-Soviet societies usually point either to the Soviet legacy of informal norms determining what is perceived as acceptable behaviour, or to institutional causes such as the combination of massive privatization and unclear legislation, something which created opportunities for the elites to enrich themselves during the transition phase. Corruption can be framed both as an element in a nation-building process – »we, the honest« versus »the dishonest Russians« – or as a political populist strategy – »we, suffering people« versus »they, the corrupt elite«. Here we focus on the three Baltic states and argue that presidents, occupying the high-est post in each country, can themselves choose how to frame the issue of corruption. The question is which frame they opt for. Analysing 1,278 presidential speeches, we argue that the institutional set-up of presidential elections influence the choice of frame: whereas directly elected Lithuanian presidents choose an anti-establishment frame, indirectly elected Estonian and Latvian president have chosen a frame where corruption is seen as an alien phenomenon to their respective nations.