Russia: Political and Institutional Determinants of Economic Reforms
91 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2009 Last revised: 28 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2004
The purpose of this study is to analyze the course, determinants and political economy of economic reforms in Russia conducted in the period 1985-2003. The year 1985 can be considered an important turning point in Soviet/Russian history, marked as it was by the election of Mikhail Gorbachev to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) and (de facto) leader of the USSR. This nomination brought an end to two decades of political consolidation of the communist regime connected with the name of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and his short living successors (Yurii Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko), often referred to ex post as 'the stagnation period' (vremya zastoya). Gorbachev initiated a series of important political and (to a lesser extent) economic reforms, which led eventually to the collapse of the communist regime and the disintegration of the Soviet empire in 1991. Thus, 1991 must be seen as another dramatic turning point in Russia's contemporary history. From the end of 1991 onwards political and economic reforms have been carried out by the new Russian state that emerged after the disintegration of the USSR. This paper aims to explain the political and institutional determinants of economic reforms in the Russian Federation. It has been carried out under the Global Research Project on 'Understanding Reforms' organized and financed by the Global Development Network (GDN)1 as one of 30 country studies covering a broad set of developing and transition economies. It presents the project's intermediate results and will be the subject of further discussion as well as analytical and editorial work in the near future. The case of Russia is very important and interesting from the point of view of GRP 'Understanding Reforms' goals and agenda, for many reasons. First, all transitions from communist regimes and centrally-planned economies to democratic capitalism represent a much more complex, complicated and difficult reform experience than policy reforms observed in developing countries, especially when they relate to just one or a few specific policy areas. Thus, learning the transition experience, particularly in its early phase, can provide an extremely valuable empirical input to 'understanding reform' and provide answers to the project's key questions: 'why reform?', 'what reform?', and 'how well did the reform perform?'
Keywords: economic reforms, transition, Russia, reform sequencing, political reforms, institutional reforms, political economy.
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