Political Change under Yeltsin and Putin
HILARY APPEL
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2007
11:45 a.m. LUNCH, 12:15 p.m. LECTURE; PARENTS DINING ROOM

The Russian government under President Vladimir Putin is widely criticized abroad for putting constraints on the free media, limiting the non-profit sector, manipulating the legal system, eliminating institutional checks on the presidency, and increasing state control over the commanding heights of the economy. Journalists, civic groups, political opponents and alternative parties who fail to support President Putin are undermined, harassed or silenced by many means as they try to express their opinions. Yet Putin is extremely popular at home, with approval ratings consistently over 70% - an enviable level for a politician anywhere. Why does President Putin remain so popular when his government has run roughshod over Russia’s newfound freedoms? How widely enjoyed is Russia’s recent economic growth and is economic growth the primary reason for Putin’s continued legitimacy? In order to answer these questions, Hilary Appel will examine Putin’s popularity in the context of Russia’s broader political and economic transformation since the fall of the Soviet Communist regime.