INSOR Russia: Institute of Contemporary Development
Updated June 28, 2019

Report on Modernization of Political System in North Caucasus Presented at INSOR

September 8, 2011

A press conference was held at the Institute of Contemporary Development dedicated to the results of research carried out by the Center for Political Technology on the theme ‘Modern Evolution of the Political System in the North Caucasus and Prospects for Modernization Processes’. The research, which was supported by a grant from Institute of Public Planning, entails a comprehensive analysis of social and political processes in the North Caucasus republics of Russia and prospects for the transformation of entrenched patterns and practices.

The analysis of the political system of the republics of the North Caucasus takes into consideration various aspects of the situation, including the degree of autonomy of the regions from the federal center, division of executive and legislative branches, the level of development of local self governance, consolidation of the ruling elite, party-system structure and the effectiveness of government. The ultimate goal of the research was to identify promising areas for modernization despite widespread skepticism in this regard. 

The author of the research, Vice President of the Center of Political Technology Rostislav Turovksy, noted that none of the regions in the area could boast high social, cultural and economic potential for modernization. In particular, he noted the “obvious differences between the regions in terms of the various components of their potential. For example, in this regard we can negatively characterize Ingushetia, which is only in a slightly better position than Chechnya. North Ossetia can be seen as relatively well positioned for modernization. Of the ‘Muslim’ regions, Kabardino-Balkaria demonstrates the greatest potential for modernization.”

The research identified peculiarities in the social environment and political regime in the North Caucasus which are characteristic of authoritarianism, low quality management and professional preparation among the governing elite, heightened influence of interethnic and clan relations, the prominent place of Islam and subsequently this religion’s internal contradictions.

The author believes that the republics of the North Caucasus cannot be considered societies in the classical and traditional sense, as for example in many Asian countries. The political processes in the North Caucasus are very extreme and neglected versions of what is present in other regions of Russia. A domineering elite, rigid control of the political environment, manipulations with political parties, nepotism in government and business, low levels of public activism and a depoliticized society, corruption, a declining quality of education and professional training – all of these are present in but not unique to the North Caucasus. For this reason it would be a mistake to deny the possibility of including the North Caucasus in the Russia-wide modernization process. In particular, it would be wrong to encourage the form of traditionalism there as an illusionary basis for social stability.

However, even given all the limitations stemming from elements of a traditional agrarian society in the North Caucasus and the area’s re-Islamization, the opportunity and footholds for modernization exist. The pivotal issue here is the fact that only the federal center can act as the initiator of modernization processes, and this will require political will and constituency in policy.