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From Local Activism to Local Politics: The Case of Moscow

In: Russian Politics
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Conventional wisdom holds that civil society is a sphere of activity separate from the state and the private realm. Due to a combination of historical, developmental and institutional factors, Russian civil society today is dominated by the state. While not all interactions with the state are seen as harmful, scholars acknowledge that most politically oriented or oppositional non-governmental organizations today face difficult conditions in Russia. In response to the restrictions on civil society and the unresponsive nature of Russia’s hybrid authoritarian regime, some civil society actors in Moscow have made the transition into organized politics at the local level. This transition was motivated by their desire to solve local problems and was facilitated by independent electoral initiatives which provided timely training and support for opposition political candidates running in municipal elections. Once elected, these activists turned municipal deputies are able to perform some of the functions traditionally ascribed to civil society, including enforcing greater accountability and transparency from the state and defending the interest of citizens.

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