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The Aleksanteri Institute

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

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Andrey Zaostrovtsev (European University at Saint Petersburg, Russia)

Russian Neostatism as Institutional Path Dependence

The reforms of the 1990-s did not transform Russia into a market democracy. In the second decade of the XXI century it became quite clear that Russian transition has failed and that Russia built the new type of its traditional social model. It may be called neostatism. The movement to neostatism is reflected by the international indexes of economic freedoms, quality of governance and democracy. The present Russian indicators in such fields as property rights or, especially, rule of law are distinctly lower than 15-20 years ago. But the main problem with these indicators contains in the fact that they measure immeasurable. Basic Russian institutions represent the very specific foundations of so called “service state” with deep historical roots, going back to the XV-XVI centuries. Neostatism as the modern type of the “service state” embraces the modified institutional heritage of the communist epoch and is based on the following institutions that radically differ from the institutions of market democracies: - highly centralized, concentrated and unconstrained political power; - dominance of so called “power-property” relations where the rights to assets and incomes are determined by the status (formal and/or informal) in the state hierarchy; - rule by law instead of rule of law: system where the informal decisions of the state-holders (powerful elite) play the major and decisive role; - distribution of rents among the privileged status-holders, including the informal rights to revenues from corruption. Neostatism in modern Russia is the natural result of its development inside historical institutional root (path-dependence). It is relatively young and some its characteristics are to be completed or changed in order the system get integrity. Anyway, the general trend of Russian development is aimed at the further estrangement from institutions of market democracies and strengthening of its traditional archaic in the new institutional design.