At the end of September, the Institute of Modern Russia launched a series of guest lectures focusing on Russian politics and foreign relations. The first lecture was delivered at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

 

On September 22, IMR advisor Boris Bruk delivered the first lecture of a series dedicated to Russian politics and foreign relations to members of and students in the Department of Political Science at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. The lecture was dedicated to the issues of Russian governance and public sector reform. Bruk spoke about Russia’s efforts to introduce elements of new public management strategies rooted in private management ideologies into governance. As part of his talk, he compared the Russian reforms with those of the United States to highlight similarities and differences between the two countries’ experiences. Reform dynamics are typically influenced by a number of factors, including (but not limited to) characteristics of the polity and historical-institutional factors. Within this context, while formally stating its acceptance of the new reform ideology, Russia has shown itself unprepared to implement substantive changes in the public sector. 

According to Bruk, although certain goals were achieved during the course of the reforms (such as the introduction of one-stop principle and the standardization of services), many key problems remained unsolved. For instance, as multiple surveys have shown, the majority of Russians currently consider corruption to be the country’s most critical problem, and over 90 percent of citizens consider public officials to be the most corrupt members of Russian society. It is also important to keep in mind that virtually no attention has been given by the government to democratic principles, which constitute the basis of good governance. Decreased corruption, increased public participation, freedom of speech and association, and access to independent media are key indicators of improving governance. Unfortunately, compared to other countries, Russia ranks poorly on all of these indicators. As part of Bruk’s lecture, students discussed the relationship between the Russian government and the public, as well as the current situation in Ukraine. 

The next two lectures will focus on the topic of patriotism in Russia. They will be delivered at the University of Michigan Department of Political Science (November 13) and to members of the international studies program at Virginia Tech (November 17).

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