Sharon Rivera

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. 

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