Associate Professor of Government Sharon Werning Rivera recently published an article titled “Is Russia Too Unique to Learn from Abroad? Elite Attitudes on Foreign Borrowing and the West, 1993-2012” in Sravnitel’naya politika (Comparative Politics). Sravnitel’naya politika is edited by Alexei D. Voskresenskii, a professor at MGIMO University, one of the most prestigious universities in the Russian Federation.
In the article, Rivera noted that Russian elites have debated their country’s historical-cultural relationship to the West for centuries, arguing over whether Russia should emulate Europe or follow a distinctive path of development and explored attitudes on this issue held by a broad cross-section of individuals occupying high-ranking positions in Russia between 1993 and 2012.
She found that despite Russia’s long tradition of underscoring its uniqueness, close to three-quarters of Russian bureaucrats and Duma deputies in the mid-1990s were nonetheless willing to borrow from foreign experience, particularly from models of European welfare capitalism.
She said that despite the sharp rise in anti-Western sentiments emanating from the Kremlin over the past decade, as well as Vladimir Putin’s ever-growing emphasis on Russia’s uniqueness, Russian elites are still surprisingly willing to adopt political and economic models from the West.