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Russian Politics and Presidential Power takes an in-depth look at the Russian presidency and uses it as a key to understanding Russian politics. Donald R. Kelley looks at presidents from Gorbachev to Putin as authoritarian, transformational leaders who set out to build the future, while sometimes rejecting and reinterpreting the work of past modernizers. Placing the presidency in this context helps readers understand both the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the nature of the Russian Federation that rose in its place. And by setting the presidency within a longer historical context, Kelley shows how the future of the presidency is dependent on other features of the political system.

The Yeltsin Presidency, 1991–1993
The Yeltsin Presidency, 1991–1993

When the Russian tri-color was raised over the Kremlin, everything had changed, and nothing had changed, at least for the time being. Gone were the Soviet Union and its last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gone too were the formal trappings of the soviet era. The Russian Federation had a new flag, a new coat of arms, and—briefly, until nostalgia took over—a new national anthem. The center of the political universe, the Communist Party, was deposed from its commanding position, disorganized and dispirited, and briefly banned until the courts overturned Boris Yeltsin’s efforts to administer the death blow.

But some things had not changed. Almost all of the actors in the new game of democratic politics had been in government ...

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