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Russian Politics



In this course we will critically examine the political system of the Russian Federation. We will discuss various empirical and theoretical aspects of the country’s evolving domestic and foreign politics. These include the pattern of political transformation during the 1990s and the working of Russia’s major political institutions, the issues of (political) legitimacy and identity, the link between domestic and foreign policies, with a particular emphasis on Russia-EU relations and on Russia’s regional strategy, the prospect of political change in Russia, as well as the theories developed to capture the nature of the Russian political system: from ‘managed democracy’ to ‘competitive authoritarianism’, and beyond.

Course objectives

On the basis of carefully selected issues, students develop a better understanding and a deeper knowledge of Russia’s institutional political structure and its domestic and international policies, from the early 1990s, in a comparative (post-communist) perspective: key events, institutions, procedures, personalities and policies. Knowledge of the major theoretical approaches developed to comprehend the specific nature of Russian politics is an important aspect of the course. Insight into the dynamics of political change in the Russian Federation is another key objective. Students are expected to independently and critically research major aspects of Russian politics. They will be required to write and present short assignments, and to complete (during the second part of the course) a research paper on some aspect of contemporary Russian politics.


First bloc: lectures, assignments, designing and presenting research paper outline. Second bloc: writing research paper.

Assessment method

Two Assignments (week 3, 5) (10%)
Written test (week 8) (40%)
Research paper (week 9-15) (50%)



Reading list

To be announced on Blackboard before the start of the seminar

Contact information

With the professor, by e-mail: Prof. A.W.M. Gerrits


Students are advised to note that the heaviest workload is in the first bloc of the semester, from January 31 – March 16: lectures, assignments, devising a research paper outline, and a written test. The second bloc will be used to research and to write an academic paper.