The contemporary electoral system of Russia, once adopted to foster the country’s transition to democracy, has been transformed into a crucial pillar of electoral authoritarianism. This study investigates how the principal elements of Russia’s electoral system contributed to the consolidation of the authoritarian political order. While certainly not undemocratic in themselves and often borrowed from well-established democracies, the electoral institutions of Russia were assembled into a combination that effectively prevents alternation in power. The study shows that central role in this process was played by learning from error. At each of the stages of transition to authoritarianism, electoral reforms were implemented in order to minimize the risks that were revealed by the previous electoral experiences of the authoritarian leadership.