The Politics of Fear: How Russia’s Rulers Counter their Rivals

in Russian Politics
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article attempts to analyze the mechanisms of political control used by the Kremlin vis-à-vis its rivals. Russian authorities had opted the politics of fear, which include overt intimidation and public discrediting of the regime’s critics, and selective persecution and open harassment of opposition activists and/or supporters. This approach to political control to some degree reproduced similar mechanisms that had enabled regime survival in the late Soviet period, and fit general trends of repressive policies in a number of contemporary authoritarian regimes. The article discusses causes and mechanisms of the politics of fear in contemporary Russia, its roots in comparative and historical contexts, and strengths and weaknesses of repressive policy in Russia from the viewpoints of the regime, the opposition, and Russian society.




 See Johannes Gereshewski, “The Three Pillars of Stability: Legitimation, Repression, and Co-Optation in Authoritarian Regimes”, Democratization 20, no. 1 (January 2013), 13–38.


Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991): 58.


 See Christian Davenport, “Multi-Dimensional Threat Perception and State Repressions: An Inquiry into Why States Apply Negative Sanctions”, American Journal of Political Science 38, no. 3 (August 1993): 683–713.


 See Daniel Treisman, “Presidential Popularity in a Hybrid Regime: Russia under Yeltsin and Putin”, American Journal of Political Science 55, no. 3, August 2011, 590–609; Richard Rose, William Mishler, and Neil Munro, Popular Support for an Undemocratic Regime: The Changing Views of Russians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).


 See Graeme Robertson, “Protesting Putinism: The Election Protests of 2011–2012 in a Broader Perspective”, Problems of Post-Communism 60, no. 2 (April 2013): 11–23; Tomila Lankina, “The Dynamics of Regional and National Contentious Politics in Russia: Evidence from a New Dataset”, Problems of Post-Communism 62, no. 1 (February 2015): 26–44.


 See Kirill Rogov, “The ‘Third Cycle’: Is Russia Headed Back to the Future?”, in Russia 2020: Scenarios for the Future, eds. Maria Lipman and Nikolay Petrov (Washington, dc: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2011), 125–148; Paul Chaisty and Stephen Whitefield, “The Effects of the Global Financial Crisis on Russian Political Attitudes,” Post-Soviet Affairs 28, no. 2 (April-July 2012): 187–208.


 See Vladimir Gel’man, “Cracks in the Wall: Challenges to Electoral Authoritarianism in Russia”, Problems of Post-Communism 60, no. 2 (April 2013): 3–10; Samuel Greene, Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin’s Russia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014).


 See Levitsky and Way, Competitive Authoritarianism, pp. 201–207; Wilson, Belarus, Chs. 8, 9.


 See Roger Potocki, “Belarus: A Tale of Two Elections”, Journal of Democracy 23, no. 3 (July 2011): 49–63.


 See Francoise Dauce, “The Duality of Coercion in Russia: Cracking Down on “Foreign Agents””, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization 23, no. 1 (January 2015): 55–75; Geir Flikke, “Resurgent Authoritarianism: The Case of Russia’s New ngo Legislation”, Post-Soviet Affairs, 32, no. 2 (February 2016): 103–131.


 See Natalia Golitsyna, “Sergei Guriev: Parizh luchshe tyur’my v Moskve”, Radio Svoboda, 3 February 2014 (accessed 21 June 2015).


 See Harley Balzer, “Russia’s Scientists Fall Silent”, New York Times, 22 July 2015 (accessed 25 July 2015).


In September 2015, Shlosberg was expelled from the Pskov legislative assembly by majority vote of regional mps. See Anna Dolgov, “Kremlin Critic Expelled from Russian Regional Legislature”, Moscow Times, 24 September 2015 (accessed 28 October 2015).


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 32 32 19
Full Text Views 8 8 8
PDF Downloads 3 3 3
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0