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Modernizing Russia

Masha Lipman in WaPo:

If the team of Putin and Medvedev really means modernization, it is sure to face tough challenges. First and foremost is the question of whether modernization is even possible in a deinstitutionalized system that has eliminated public participation, cultivated paternalism and opted for heavily centralized control over political competition. Another challenge is the inevitable infringement on the more conservative Russian elites that have thrived under Putin’s system of empowered bureaucracy. Attempts at modernization would further aggravate the tensions among those who control broad swaths of Russia’s power and property. Their infighting is mostly kept behind the scenes these days, but if political struggles spill out into the open, they are likely to extend to the medium-tier elites, which are currently depoliticized, or the middle classes, which will be forced to align with one or another of the feuding camps.