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Control over the security services is a key ingredient of political survival in authoritarian regimes. This is particularly true during periods of leadership succession and high political uncertainty. In this paper, we compare the strategy used by Vladimir Putin towards the siloviki – the Russian security services – with that employed by Xi Jinping towards the Chinese security services. We find that in both countries, the security services have been significantly strengthened in recent years, while at the same time extensive anti-corruption campaigns have been used to eliminate key officials within the security structures. We argue that both developments can be seen as elements of a strategy to increase control over the public, while eliminating potential competition from regime insiders, in view of a deteriorating economic situation, and the constitutional (or quasi-constitutional) term limits faced by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in 2024 and 2022, respectively.

In: Russian Politics

Abstract

An array of qualitative and quantitative information on 2016–2020 Russian governors’ replacements is used to analyze decision-making and the patterns of governors’ appointments as well as their evolution in conjunction with regime transformation and regional variation. Regression analysis is used to establish what factors influence replacements, based on regional monitoring data from the Committee of Civic Initiatives. Ethnic republics in the North Caucasus are taken as a special case.

In: Russian Politics
Authors: and

Abstract

Although 4 July 2020 saw the coming into force of constitutional changes in Russia, this was far from the end of the story. Most clearly, these changes to the 1993 constitution required implementation, including through amendments to, and the writing of new pieces of, federal legislation. In part, this process was the mundane work of legal bureaucrats, tweaking and creating many pieces of legislation to reflect the new constitutional text. But the implementation process also reveals much more about the broader constitutional reform project. This article reviews the implementation process, discussing its complexity, the improvisation shown when fleshing out certain new constitutional details, its relationship with other political developments, and the chasm laid bare between Putin’s promise of the rebalancing of power in his 15 January 2020 Address to the Federal Assembly versus the reality of reform in practice.

Open Access
In: Russian Politics

Russia’s political system must be understood as inherently dynamic, with constant regime change being essential to how the regime operates and survives. This regime change does not proceed monotonically toward ever tighter authoritarianism, but can move in both liberal and repressive directions at different times. While on aggregate the trend has been to greater authoritarianism under Putin, certain liberalizing moves have also been important that are meaningful for how ordinary Russians and elites experience their own regime, and greater repressiveness is not foreordained. We document two forms of endemic regime dynamism in Russia, each involving contingent, improvisational efforts at short-term recalibration in response to crises that are both endogenous and exogenous to the regime: structural improvisation and ideational improvisation.

In: Russian Politics

Wood anatomical features may be visible on the microscopic as well as on the macroscopic scale. While the former can often be quantified by detailed wood anatomical analyses, the latter are often treated as qualitative features or as binary variables (present/absent). Macroscopic tree-ring features can be quantified in terms of frequency, intensity, or classified according to their position within a tree ring, like intra-annual density variations (IADFs) in conifers or frost rings in earlywood or latewood. Although some of these tree-ring features, like e.g. missing rings or IADFs are often seen as anomalies, hampering dendrochronologists to perform proper crossdating of tree-ring series, many of these properties are formed under extreme environmental stress or heavy impact, and could mark these extreme events by the manifestation in the wood anatomical structures throughout the lifespan of trees. The described tree-ring features form discrete time-series of extreme events. For example, flood rings may be marked by lunar-shaped earlywood vessels or enlarged latewood vessels in ring-porous oaks. White earlywood rings and light rings indicate reduced cell wall thickness and lignification occurring in very cold years. Frost rings result from cambial cell death during abrupt cooling events in the growing season. Missing rings and IADFs are mainly caused by drought events. Characteristic variations in earlywood vessel size, shape, or number in ring-porous oak species are markers for flood events, defoliation, heat stress, or drought. Traumatic resin ducts may be triggered by a range of biotic or environmental stressors, including wounding, fires or mechanical factors. Reaction wood is indicative of mechanical stress, often related to geomorphic events. In many cases anatomical responses are unspecific and may be caused by different stressors or extreme events. Additionally, the sensitivity of trees to form such features may vary between species, or between life stages within one species. We critically evaluate the indicative value of different wood anatomical tree-ring features for environmental reconstructions.

Free access
In: IAWA Journal