MOSCOW – How did “Putinism” – that distinctively Russian blend of authoritarian politics and dirigiste economics – happen? And, now that it has, how can Russians move beyond it, to realize the rights and liberties promised to them in the country’s constitution?
An active Russian civil society, which seemed to appear out of nowhere in Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union of 1989-1990 after the long Soviet hibernation, receded far too quickly. The astounding difficulty of everyday survival following the USSR’s collapse trapped most Russians into focusing on their families’ most urgent needs. Civic apathy set in.