Decentralization Versus State Collapse: Explaining Russia's Endurance

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Alexseev, Mikhail A. (2001) Decentralization Versus State Collapse: Explaining Russia's Endurance , Journal of Peace Research 38(1): 101–106.

The non-collapse of post-Soviet Russia suggests that state disintegration is not a function of the degree of central control or the balance of power between the center and the periphery, but of the existence and effectiveness of institutions that mediate center-periphery grievances. The article examines four such institutional factors (unavailable under communism) that have enabled the Russian Federation to survive socio-economic and political challenges to state integrity in the 1990s: (1) the ability of the center to provide selective incentives to the regions and the regions' ability to engage in strategic bargaining; (2) disincentives for external support to regional separatists; (3) diffusion of civic separatism; and (4) center-periphery checks and balances. While the balance of power between Moscow and the regions is likely to wax and wane, the robustness of these four factors and the commitment of Russia's political elites to problem-solving through multilateral compromises and bargaining emerge as critical indicators of Russia's endurance. Ethnocentric consolidation of central government in Russia is likely to undermine these four state-preserving factors.