Lonely Power: Defining the National Identity of a Dictatorship


The authoritarian regime in Moscow has never been able to define its national identity because it has never had one. Its leaders have been ruled by a clique of close-knit professionals who often have backgrounds in the secret police. In his new book, Lonely Power, Lilia Shevtsova examines the confluence of factors that set the course for Russian politics and outlines the challenges that face democratizing a dictatorship. In addition, she discusses the role of the West in bringing change.

In the twentieth century, the Russian Empire was the third largest empire in history, stretching from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth east to Alaska. Peter the Great ruled Russia from 1689 until 1725. During his reign, the capital was moved from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. The government introduced new laws to make Russian society more modern. It also began building ships for its navy. In 1904, Russia fought the Russo-Japanese War. This war, which lasted until 1905, ended with Japan winning. This defeat was one of the reasons for the subsequent revolutions.

After the Cold War ended in 1991, fourteen former Soviet republics declared independence. Because the Soviet state was weak, it was unable to prevent the change. Apart from the USSR, many external republics were disbanded as a result of the breakup of the USSR. The economic system of Russia subsequently changed. The country’s population decreased and the economy is suffering. While the core region contains major cities, rivers, and lakes, the Eastern Frontier has the economic base and the largest freshwater lake in the world.

The northern and southern parts of Russia are bordered by mountain ranges. The Ural Mountains, which are higher than the European Alps, stretch from the Arctic Ocean to Kazakhstan. These mountains contain mineral deposits such as coal and precious stones. These mountains act as a boundary between Europe and Asia. The Caucasus Mountains, on the other hand, span the gap between Asia and Europe. These mountains also provide the country with the raw materials it needs for manufacturing and export.

The Russian Federation occupies 17.098,242 square kilometers, which is 11% of Earth’s landmass. As such, it is the largest country in the world and twice as large as the contiguous United States. Its geography reveals both monotony and diversity, with climates, vegetation, and soils covering vast areas. With a population of over one hundred million, Russia is considered a diverse melting pot of cultures. Its population is diverse, and each ethnic group has its own language and cultural traditions.

The election of Vladimir Putin as President of Russia is a remarkable achievement for democracy in the country, but the resulting unlevel electoral playing field will make consolidation of authoritarianism difficult. The interplay of business and state power may determine the fate of post-Soviet Russia. If this happens, it will make Putin’s efforts in strengthening the state to be more democratic more challenging. Nonetheless, the election will be a test of Putin’s resolve.