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Public seminar: Russia between Modernization and Stability

Venue: Litteraturhuset in Oslo

Event date: 2 December 2021, 0900-1400

Please register here

Important: Panel 2 and 3 will be streamed. Panel 1 will not be streamed.

Russia’s political stability depends on predictable and agreed-upon, but unwritten rules on how resources are distributed between the elites. This distribution system is the glue holding the ruling coalition together, preventing destructive 1990s-style infighting between the ‘clans’. However, it also prevents substantial modernization and stifles economic growth.

There is widespread agreement that something must be done, but the elites cannot agree on what and how. Not only is there no unifying vision of the future – powerful actors cannot even reach consensus on seeming technicalities, such as the distribution of radio frequencies.

At this conference, we bring together the RUSECOPOL team of researchers to discuss the implications of this power struggle as well as the conditions to reform the system. This event sums up the RUSECOPOL project.



Coffee and registration



Opening remarks by Kjell Inge Bjerga, Director/Professor, Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies



Panel 1: Elites, Institutions, and the Response to Challenges


Chair: Helge Blakkisrud (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs)


Andrei Yakovlev (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) (via Zoom)

Composition of the Ruling Elite, Incentives for Productive Usage of Rents, and Prospects for Russia’s Limited Access Order (TBC)


Ekaterina Schulmann (Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow) (via Zoom) and

Mark Galeotti (Institute for International Relations Prague)

A Tale of Two Councils: The Changing Roles of the Security and State Councils during the Transformation Period of Modern Russian Politics


Geir Flikke (University of Oslo)

Protest in Limited Access Orders — the Case of Russia’s Rubbish Protests



Coffee break



Panel 2: New Technologies and the Prospects for Reform and Development


Chair: Karen-Anna Eggen (Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Oslo)


Jardar Østbø (Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Oslo)

Hybrid Surveillance Capitalism: Sber(bank)’s Model for Russia’s Modernization


Janis Kluge (German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin)

The Future Has to Wait: 5G in Russia and the Lack of Elite Consensus



Lunch break



Panel 3: Politicized Business and the Monetization of Politics


Chair: Håvard Bækken (Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Oslo)

Ingerid Opdahl (Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Oslo)

Multipolarity as Practice. Economic Relations and Perceptions of World order in Russia’s Second Return to Africa

Richard Connolly (University of Birmingham)

Rosatom and the Russian Rent Distribution System


Mark Galeotti (Institute for International Relations Prague)

Entrepreneurs in Epaulettes: How Russian Security Services Monetize Themselves




Closing remarks







Public seminar: Power and Economy under Putin and Beyond

Venue: Wergeland, Litteraturhuset in Oslo

Event date: 21 January 2020, 0900-1430

Please sign up here

Russia is faced with a dual, «creeping» crisis: economic decline and the succession problem. At this open seminar, the RUSECOPOL project has gathered leading international experts to address the ensuing fundamental questions: 


  • How does the intra-elite battle for power and resources shape Russian politics? 

  • And how do current policies influence power relations within the elite?


Under the surface of a stable regime, a multitude of actors within the power elite are struggling for power, resources, and, above all – the future of Russia. At the one extreme, wealthy businesspeople push for market reform and rapprochement with the West. At the other, ‘warriors’ see the West as an existential threat and favour a mobilizational economy under tight state control. This continuous power struggle shapes Russian policies on a daily basis and is key to understanding where Russia is heading when the Putin era is approaching its end. 




Registration and coffee



Opening remarks by IFS Director Kjell Inge Bjerga



Panel 1: The Russian Ruling Elite and its Challenges


Chair: Helge Blakkisrud (Norwegian Institute for International Affairs)


Andrey Yakovlev (Higher School of Economics, Moscow): “The Ruling Elite in the Face of External Pressure and Lost Vision for the Future”


Ekaterina Schulmann (Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow): “Russia’s Ruling Class: the Bureaucrats, the Commissars and the Agents”


Geir Flikke (University of Oslo): “The Role of Political and Professional Organizations in the Struggle for Reform”



Coffee break



Panel 2: State-Business Relations in Russia


Chair: Arild Moe (Fridtjof Nansen Institute)


Ingvill Moe Elgsaas (Institute for Defence Studies, Norwegian Defence University College, Oslo): “State-Business Relations in the Murmansk Region”


Ingerid Opdahl (Institute for Defence Studies): “A Strong State in the Russian Arctic? Tasking Oil and Gas Companies for Regional Development”


Janis Kluge (German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin): “The Role of Business Elites in Russia’s Turn to the East”







Panel 3: Informal Actors in Russian Politics


Chair: Håvard Bækken (Institute for Defence Studies)


Jardar Østbø (Institute for Defence Studies): “Outsourcing Great Powerhood? The Non-State Element in Russia’s African Strategy”


Mark Galeotti (Institute for International Relations Prague): “Problems, Proxies, Partners: Organised Crime and Kremlin Policy at Home and Abroad”





Closing remarks 

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