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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 regional (Eurasia) and chronological (post- and late-communism) 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 and power transfer in the Russian Federation is another key objective. Students are expected to independently and critically research and compare major aspects of Russian politics. Students will be required to study and summarize weekly readings, to write and present brief assignments on topical issues, and to complete (during the second part of the course) a research paper on a well-defined aspect of contemporary Russian and Eurasian politics.


First bloc: lectures, required readings, assignments, designing and presenting research paper outline.
Second bloc: lectures, required readings, presenting research papers.
See for more detailed information:

Assessment method

Assignments (50%)
Research paper (50%)


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

Core text books:

  • Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way, Competitive Authoritarianism. Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

  • Richard Sakwa, The Crisis of Russian Democracy. The Dual State, Factionalism and the Medvedev Succession. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

  • Stephen White, Understanding Russian Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

A full list of additional literature and reading assignments will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the seminar.

Contact information

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