Russia under Putin: Democracy or dictatorship?

American reportage on Russia generally obsesses about the Kremlin and the leader, Vladimir Putin. Putin dominates U.S. coverage of Russia far more than he dominates Russia.

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The answer to the question of today’s talk, “Russia: toward democracy or dictatorship?” is “neither.” Russia is not a democracy, and it is not a dictatorship. Russia, like most countries of the world, has a ramshackle authoritarian system with some democratic trappings (some of which are meaningful). Russia is not in transition to or from anything. Russia is what it is.

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