Whither Russia? Autocracy Is Here for Now, but Is It Here to Stay?

Judging from some of the titles of recent books on Russia—for example, Richard Sakwa's The Crisis of Russian Democracy, Gulnaz Sharafutdinova's Political Consequences of Crony Capitalism inside Russia, and Tom Remington's The Politics of Inequality in Russia—all is not well 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Corruption abounds, and state institutions are weak where they should be strong or strong where they should be weak. Under Vladimir Putin, democracy has deteriorated since the heady early days of the 1990s, and the negative externalities of Russia's rocky economic transition—especially privatization—have made it so that social inequality permeates postcommunist society.