This paper provides a detailed analysis of Putin’s radical overhaul of the Russian federal system and its impact on federalism and democratisation. Whilst not all of Putin’s reforms have been implemented fully, the reorganisation of the Federation Council, his usurpation of unilateral powers to dismiss regional assemblies and chief executives, combined with his creation of seven federal districts, make a mockery of federalism. There are real worries that Putin’s quest for a ‘dictatorship of law’ will be bought at the cost of civil liberties and the consolidation of democracy. At present it would appear that Putin is willing to sacrifice democracy in order to win unity. However, his attack on the sovereignty claims of the ethnic republics are surely just as likely to stir up nationist sentiments as to quell them.

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