Bliakher L. E.

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  • 1, 2024

    • Other Migrants in the Far East of Russia, or Search for the Soviet People during the Period of Nation Building in the Post-Soviet Space

      The article examines a new, not very important from the statistical viewpoint, but extremely unusual flow of migrants from the former republics of the USSR, primarily Central Asian and, to a lesser extent, Transcaucasian. In the recent past a typical migrant in the Far East, as well as in Russia as a whole, can be described as a resident of a small city or village, who is focused on a short-term or cyclical stay in the region for the purpose of earning money and minimally interacting with the host community. However, the new flow of migrants includes residents of large cities who travel to Russia with an intention to integrate. For these types of migrants the usual economic push/pull factors do not play a significant role. The representatives of this group possess sufficiently high qualifications and did not experience any serious economic problems in the country of origin. The motives for their move are rather political in nature, and this is not persecution for dissent or participation in opposition activities, but rather what the authors refer to as the search for the Soviet people.

      According to the authors’ conclusion, the emergence of this migration flow is associated with the growing process of ethnicization (as a form of nation-building) in the states of the post-Soviet space, which is increasingly becoming less post-Soviet. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the authorities of the newly independent states pursued an extremely cautious national policy, which was largely explained by the artificial nature of the contemporary borders of these states and their ethnic foundation. The former imperial cities, the previous centers of power, whose population most closely corresponded to the image of the Soviet people, preserved their high status. However, in the recent years the situation has changed. As ethnicization intensifies, accompanied by the ousting of the Soviet, which was equated with the Russian, the “debris” of the Soviet people lose not only their social status, but also the foundation for self-identification. They move to Russia in search of such foundation, with the hope to find confirmation of their own professional and socio-political identity.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2024-112-1-114-135

      Pages: 114-135

  • 3, 2023

    • Baron Is Dead Long Live Baronet (Political Mediation on the Border of Empty and Filled Space)

      Based on a series of expeditions to the northern area of the Irkutsk region, the article examines the process of the formation of a special kind of quasi-political actors, denoted in the text by the term “taiga baronet”. These actors emerge under the conditions when, as a result of the “optimization” of the structures responsible for collecting information about social space, the latter, from the point of view of authorities, becomes “empty”. Along with the array of interpretable markers of the filled space, a number of operators capable of interpreting them decreases and at the end disappears. As a result, the government turns out to be blind, physically deprived of the ability to perform managerial functions. At the same time, having become invisible to the eye of the authorities, this space retains itself as an administratively and politically structured territory, in which representatives of local authorities are forced to carry out the activities prescribed to them and legally assigned to them. Due to the “blindness” of the authorities, this activity inevitably turns into an imitation. The problem, however, is that the space that the authorities perceive as “empty” still have residents, for whom this space remains both social and “filled,” and who continue to expect from government institutions that they provide a certain amount of public goods. Thus, a conflict arises, manifested in complaints, appeals to law enforcement agencies and higher authorities, which poses a threat to the favorable picture drawn in the reports. It is the need to somehow neutralize this threat that gives rise to the need for an agent who is not bound by the restrictions associated with the authorities’ view and is able to focus on the “here and now” situation, without universal standards. This agent not only assumes a number of functions of the local government, but also acts as a universal mediator between the “empty” and “filled” space, between the local community and the state structure.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-110-3-23-46

      Pages: 23-46

  • 3, 2021

    • Russia, the 1990s: Metamorphoses of the Emerging Polity

      The article attempts to examine the era of the 1990s through the prism of communication in the system “center — regions”. The author interprets the epoch itself as a special, chaotic state of affairs. The political structures and instruments inherited by the new Russia from the Soviet times did not disappear, but lost their foundation (which corresponded to the model of Russian power described by Yuri Pivovarov), transformed into the mode of an autonomous drift along unauthorized trajectories. The new foundation (“the path of civilized countries”) came into conflict with the structures and instruments themselves. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the rejection of that foundation deprived the political center of its legitimacy, since it was perceived and legitimized as a driver of the transition from socialism into the world of “civilized countries”. The article shows that it was the space of dialogue (bargaining) between the center and the regions that combined the principles of the Russian power and a new legitimizing foundation stemming from the “civilized countries”

      The author identifies three stages of such a dialogue. During the first stage, there was no adaptation, and the dialogue ended with a violent confrontation. As a result, two parallel realities emerged — the reality of legal norms and declarations and the reality of survival. The second stage, labeled by the author as “taming Europe”, witnessed democratic procedures uniting with the practices of the Russian power and recreation of the distributive economy at the regional level. At the same time, the dual legitimacy of the regional rulers — from the regional community and from the federal center — bound the country’s territory much stronger than enforcement agencies or future “spiritual staples”. The last stage, which is usually considered to take place after the 1990s, is associated with the transfer of practices that have developed in the regions to the center. However, according to the author’s conclusion, this is not the end of the constituent era and the formation of the polity, but a continuation of the quest.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-102-3-72-98

      Pages: 72-98

  • 2, 2021

    • Forced Enforcement, or The State in Search of Enforcer

      The article examines a specific situation that is emerging in Russia and is associated with the erosion of the state monopoly of the legitimate use of violence. With the example of a seemingly routine private event that looks like a single failure in the system, the authors show that it represents one of the most significant practices of power holders, the essence of which they define as “forced enforcement” and analyze its origins and possible implications.

      In a gigantic country, the regions of which vary significantly in the level of their socio-economic development, enforcement of rules is associated with costs that exceed the amount of the resulting benefits. Therefore, the state limits its function as an enforcer to the control only over the key industries and does not encroach on the rest. However, under the contemporary conditions this tactic stops working. Since key industries are no longer able to meet the needs of the enlarged state, it begins to extend its control to the new social and economic spheres. The dramatic expansion of the area of application of the enforcement tools and complicated procedures associated with the need to control these tools themselves make them more and more costly. Thus, the task is to make them less costly, while maintaining, or even increasing, the volume of work. The very fact of intentionally setting such an insurmountable task makes the corresponding organs look for non-trivial solutions that are outside the state-imposed rules. Created as “enforcement machines”, they acquire their own mind and interests, and thus their own subjectivity. They no longer enforce the rules, but begin to form them, trying to shift the fulfillment of their functions to citizens and thereby pushing them to search for new enforcers that are not at all connected with the state.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-47-67

      Pages: 47-67