Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2010

The political constraints on Russia's economic development: The visionary zeal of technological modernization and its critics

Katri Pynnöniemi

June 2010

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


To understand the political constraints on Russia’s economic development, three dimensions should be explored simultaneously. The relations between Russia and the outside world (where Russia stands in comparison to others, and what it is prepared to do to advance its position), Russia’s relations with its own past (the evolution of the Muscovite matrix), and the relations between ideas and political action (“the practical value of ideas in solving political dilemmas”). In this paper I will briefly discuss the first two aspects and then focus more closely on the third. The purpose of this working paper is to look at how certain ideas, perhaps as yet rather vague ones, as to preferable futures for Russia are interlinked with the specific policies for advancing their implementation. In other words, I am interested in explicating political meaning of modernization and hence, emphasis on the relation between ideas and political action.