Stephen Whitefield "Economics and Politics in Assessments of Democratic and State Practices in Russia". Working paper.
Many observers of Russian politics since 1993, and particularly in the Putin years, have pointed to great and growing deficits in the democratic character and performance of its institutions. But what how Russians themselves see democracy in Russia in practice? And to what extent are their views shaped by economic factors, particularly experiences and perceptions of social inequality, or political concerns? This paper addresses these issues using data from national surveys conducted in Russia on six occasions between 1993 and 2007. The results suggest that Russians are highly critical of the performance of their democratic institutions but do not indicate a growing critical tendency in the Putin years. Moreover, the lack of growth in democratic criticism does not appear to be strongly or increasingly associated with economic concerns or with social inequality. Instead, institutional performance and broader democratic values appear to drive perceptions in a stable way.