Virtual Event: Legitimized State Repression in Authoritarian Regimes: Russia 2010-2017

Jan. 25, 2021, 12:00pm

Join Columbia University's Harriman Institute for an online book talk with Seonhee Kim, a postdoctoral research scholar at the Harriman Institute, on Russia's tactics in managing activities of civil society.

Authoritarian states deploy diverse tactics to contain dissent and to gain popular support for their rules. Especially in the face of popular anti-regime movements, authoritarian regimes tend to opt for softer control over outright coercion deterring the backlash of resorting to physical violence. Likewise, the Russian state has responded to rising anti-regime social movements since the Bolotnaya protest with relatively moderate levels of repression, primarily via preventive restrictions on collective action and freedom of press and expression. Kim unpacks Russia's tactics in managing activities of civil society. The application of repressive laws specifically targeting a wide range of dissent movements has been concentrated to mostly the middle or low levels of severity while the overall volume of cases under the repressive laws has been on the rise. Kim argues that the Russian state's concern for the legitimacy of rule shaped such a distinct form of state repression. Legitimizing state repression involved diverse actors whose interests do not necessarily align with those of the central elites. In this regard, state repression is less the result of the central elites’ original design than the consequential effect of having different actors involved in the processes of lawmaking and applying the laws on the ground. Kim will discuss how the legitimated process inevitably reflects the properties of authoritarian legal institutions resulting in the moderate levels of state repression.


Seonhee Kim, postdoctoral research scholar, Harriman Institute