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Russia’s Road to Democracy

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Russia’s Road to Democracy

Parliament, Communism and Traditional Culture

9781852788513 Edward Elgar Publishing
Victor Sergeyev, Former Deputy Director, Centre for Analysis of Social, Economic, Scientific and Technological Development, Russian Academy of Science and Nikolai Biryukov, Assistant Professor, Moscow Institute for International Relations, Russia
Publication Date: 1993 ISBN: 978 1 85278 851 3 Extent: 240 pp
Russian democracy in the post-totalitarian era is intimately bound up with the fate of its representative institutions. In Russia’s Road to Democracy, Victor Sergeyev and Nikolai Biryukov assess why the Congress of People’s Deputies, and the other newly elected institutions founded under perestroika, not only failed to prevent, but also seemed to speed up and provoke, the disintegration of the Soviet Union. By studying the early history of the Congress, the book seeks insights on the prospects for democracy in Russia.

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Russian democracy in the post-totalitarian era is intimately bound up with the fate of its representative institutions. In Russia’s Road to Democracy, Victor Sergeyev and Nikolai Biryukov assess why the Congress of People’s Deputies, and the other newly elected institutions founded under perestroika, not only failed to prevent, but also seemed to speed up and provoke, the disintegration of the Soviet Union. By studying the early history of the Congress, the book seeks insights on the prospects for democracy in Russia.

Following an inquiry into the roots of Soviet political culture and the implications for future representative institutions, the book then examines the genesis of the Congress of People’s Deputies and attempts a hermeneutical reconstruction of the deputies’ models of social reality, as expressed in the texts of their parliamentary debates. The authors argue that the adoption of the concept of sobornost – a belief in society’s organic unity – as the basic model for this institution proved utterly inadequate to the challenges the country faced.

Including substantial new source material which is being made available in English for the first time, Russia’s Road to Democracy presents an in-depth analysis with conclusions that contradict the hitherto prevailing theoretical assumptions.
Critical Acclaim
‘I am much impressed with Russia’s Road to Democracy and expect it to be well received. It is the work of two young Russian political scientists as able and creative as any we have in the West. Their use of the idea of political culture seems to me to be of much value in the study, and the historical background in Part I, The Soviet Leviathan, is indispensable as well as highly readable. The whole book is a “first” in the political science literature on recent Russia.’
– Robert C. Tucker, Princeton University, US

‘Parts I & II are the heart of this book’s originality and brilliance. Historical analysis of aspects of Russian political culture, their reinforcement by aspects of Soviet political culture and the persuasive categorization of the levels of beliefs made for exciting, nourishing reading. The analysis of rhetoric at the First Congress of People’s Deputies was equally exciting, both in the conception and execution. I will strongly recommend this book to my graduate students.’
– George W. Breslauer, University of California, Berkeley, US

‘An interesting, original and. . . . important contribution to the study of Russian parliamentary politics. Specialists will certainly want to read this book and it should be of interest to a more general readership in comparative politics and legislative studies in particular.’
– Stephen White, University of Glasgow, UK
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