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Putin and a Transition in the Russian Federation

             The recent adoption of the anti-gay propaganda law and annexation of Crimea have put Russia back into the international spotlight. A possible explanation for its controversial policy decisions could be the fact that the country is characterized by an undemocratic political system. After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet-Union, many former Soviet satellite states changed into a democratic regime. Also for Russia there was good hope that the country would finally embrace democracy after 70 years of communism. Democracy is mostly seen by Western scholars as, in the words of Winston Churchill, "the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" (Churchill, 1947). The famous political scientist Robert Dahl argues that here are a number of (highly controversial) advantages that a democratic system has to offer. In a democracy, citizens are protected from dictatorial leaders and enjoy more political and personal freedom. Moreover, democracy is based on political equality, which is fundamental to establishing peace and prosperity (Dahl, 1998: 45). The appointment of Boris Yeltsin in 1991 as the first president of the Russian Federation only brought little change, as he turned Russia into a chaotic state with widespread corruption and rebellious provinces (Shevtsova, 2007: 32). When Yeltsin stepped down as president in 2000, he named Vladimir Putin as his successor. Political commentators and scientist alike thought that in contrast to Yeltsin, Putin would finally lead Russia onto the path to democracy (Kozina, 2009). .
             However, after almost 14 years, the hope of democracy in Russia has flown. The examples mentioned at the beginning show that Russia has only slid down further in to an authoritarian political system. How is it possible that Russia under Putin, despite all hope, has not undergone a transition to democracy so far? In the scientific literature, much has been written about the necessary factors to make democracy possible.

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