The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world and a major player in global politics. The country is rich in terms of natural resources, such as oil and gas, and has a population of over 140 million (“Russia country profile,” 2018). Despite its role on the global scene, Russia remains a developing country that is still on its way towards establishing a stable democracy. The country is classified as a federal semi-presidential constitutional republic, with President Vladimir Putin as the head of state and the Prime Minister as the head of the government. The present paper will outline the key events in the political history of the Russian Federation and the barriers faced by the country in achieving democracy.
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For the vast part of its history, Russia was an absolute monarchy, with the Tsar of Russia making all major political decisions. Some notorious figures of the Russian monarchy include Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Tsar Nicholas II, who was the last absolute monarch of Russia (“Russia country profile,” 2018). Shortly after industrialization, when the number of people in the working class grew substantially, the public started to voice its concerns about inequality, thus planting the seeds for socialist and communist political movements.
These social changes resulted in the Revolution of 1917, or the Bolshevik Revolution, during which the socialist movement took over the government (Silverman & Yanowitch, 2015). The revolution was tied to some significant acts of violence, such as the infamous murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, as Communists sought to eliminate all opposing forces. Under the new leadership, Russia became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR).
The USSR collapsed in 1991, and most countries that were parts of it, such as Latvia and Lithuania, gained independence from Russia (Silverman & Yanowitch, 2015). After that, Russia faced a brief period of political instability, which ended when Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000. According to Silverman and Yanowitch (2015), Putin reorganized the system of power in the country to regain control of Russia and its federal republics. Putin has been the President of Russia since that time, with a brief pause in 2008-2012 when he acted as the Prime Minister.
Based on the political characteristics of the country, there are several important barriers to establishing democracy in the Russian Federation. First of all, Russia includes a number of semi-independent republics, which presents challenges in building a unified nation and state (Silverman & Yanowitch, 2015). For instance, although Russia has federal control over the Chechen Republic, it has a separate government, and there are significant social and cultural differences between the two nations.
Secondly, the current government’s style of ruling presents challenges to participation and distribution of democracy. As noted by Silverman and Yanowitch (2015), there is no stable opposition to Vladimir Putin in Russia, which is why presidential elections do not affect the structure of power. Russia is also famous for tampering with election results and has widespread corruption, and both factors prevent the democratic development of the country. Based on the information above, Russia would benefit from establishing a presidential democracy. This form of government would promote the healthy growth of opposition and give more power to the people, thus reducing corruption.
All in all, the Russian Federation faces a number of important issues that affect its political structure, including corruption and the lack of strong opposition to Putin. Switching to a democratic form of government would assist Russia in improving the quality of life and strengthening its economy. It would also have a positive effect on the country’s relationship with the U.S. and the European Union, which has been deteriorating over the past decade. The most beneficial form of democracy for Russia would be a presidential democracy since it would require fewer changes to the current government structure while still fostering diversity on the country’s political scene.
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Russia country profile. (2018). Web.
Silverman, B., & Yanowitch, M. (2015). New rich, new poor, new Russia: Winners and losers on the Russian road to Capitalism (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.