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November 16, 2012 |  Print  Your Research  

Term Paper: How Federal is Putin's Russian Federation?

Tabish Shah: Academics, analysts, and the international community have all recognised Putin’s increasing re-centralisation of the federal system in Russia, and have duly voiced concern over whether the extent of this re-centralisation is bordering on the undemocratic.

In a federal system of government, power over the same people and geographical area is shared between two or more governments consisting of an overarching national central government and a series of regional governments. In theory, both national and regional governments are equally bound by the country's constitution, and the point of this resultant sharing of power is effectively to facilitate dialogue between regional and central centers of power to ensure that views from all areas of a country are heard.  In turn, this dialogue ensures that all individuals within a country are accurately represented through its political channels, and essentially, acts as a regulator of policy by allowing views and debate that either challenge or agree with the viability and worthiness of a respective government's policies. Ultimately, federalism is a system that aims to ensure the preservation of democracy through measures that seek to include all members of society in the decision-making processes of their respective countries.

In practice however this is not always the case, and thus I am brought to the subject of this paper: Federalism under Vladimir Putin. Based on a brief explanation of the main principles that federalism relies upon, the extent to which it is being practiced in today's Russia is largely questionable. 

Tabish Shah is an elected Member, International Institute for Strategic Studies and a PhD Candidate at the Department of Politics & International Studies at the University of Warwick.

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