Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Politics and Policies in Contemporary Russia

Chair: Meri Kulmala (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland)
Discussant: Daria Gritsenko (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland)
Vladimir Gel'man (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): Technocratic Traps of Policy Reforms in Post-Soviet Russia
Ulla Pape (University of Bremen, Germany) and Marina Khmelnitskaya (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): Ideational Influences in Russian Policy-Making
Ivan S. Grigoriev (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia) and Anna A. Dekalchuk (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia): Reform Reinforcements and Their Future Robustness: Pension Reform Reversal and Housing Reform Persistence in Russia
Andrey Starodubtsev (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): Bureaucratic Strength and Presidential Inattention: Disempowering Territorial Development Instruments in Russia

The panel will deal with analysis of impact of political and economic actors, ideas, and institutions on policy-making in Russia is various policy areas. It will concentrate on controversies between proposals designed to improve country’s economic performance, and policy outcomes, often hardly desirable by actors themselves. Why some policies – in Russia and elsewhere – resulted in unintended consequences and what is the role of agency in these developments? Four papers at this panel will address these and other issues under different research perspectives and frameworks for analyses. Vladimir Gel’man will focus on technocratic approach to policy reforms in Russia, which is oriented towards isolation of substance of policy changes from political influence and public opinion amid aggravating trends of rent-seeking and bad governance. As a result, it often contributed to privatization of gains and socialization of losses, while several policy reforms emasculated or reversed over time. Ulla Pape and Marina Khmelnitskaya will examine the influence of the ideational factors in Russian policy-making drawing upon the literature on the role of ideas in policy and politics as a guide. The analysis relies on a comparative case study and considers three concise case studies of technical policy ideas (emanating from different policy areas such as the HIV/AIDS prevention, and housing and utilities) in order to test which properties of policy ideas have an impact in conditions of Russia and under which set of circumstances. Irina Olimpieva will analyze the actual role of Russian trade unions in policy-making process, which is relied upon two ‘parallel’ institutional mechanisms: the formal neo-corporatist system of ‘social partnership’ and the informal mechanism of direct political actions. Her paper will consider the causes of ‘duality’ of the labor interests’ representation system in Russia, the role of formal and informal institutional leverages utilized by Russian trade unions to influence labor and social policy development, and the differences between federal and regional mechanisms of trade unions' influence. Andrey Starodubtsev will consider why the regional policy aimed at the economic development of different parts of Russia’s territory has not demonstrated significant success. His paper will point out the low priority of this policy area for Russia’s political leadership and the key impact of the state bureaucracy, which disempowers every new mechanism for resolving current economic problems in the Russian regions, even at the expense of negative impact on the economic development of the country as a whole.