There are three conundrums as for the relation between the Russian economy and the Sub-Prime financial crisis. Firstly, it is not clear why Russia’s GDP has been damaged so severely after the crisis comparing with other leading countries including China. Secondly, we have not yet found out a main process through which the American crisis reached Russia. Because Russian financial institutions did not have Sub-Prime-related securities so much, it does not stand to reason that they suffered the same kind of turbulence as British or German banks had. Thirdly, why such a basically financial affair as the Sub-Prime crisis has had a serious effect on economic real sectors of Russia is not easy to understand. In the case of the financial crisis in 1998 the real sectors of Russia did not have close connections with its financial sectors and therefore they did not receive serious damages from the financial sectors. Have the connections between the real sectors and financial sectors in Russia strengthened considerably in the last ten years? Among these three conundrums this article tries to answer to the last two and give a hint to the first one. As for the second conundrum the author insists that foreign financial institutions, which had held much Sub-Prime-related assets, withdrew their capital from Russia to compensate their losses in the crisis, which in turn brought Russian financial institutions into a difficult situation. As for the third one it is emphasized that the real and financial sectors in Russia have not yet achieved modern close relationship and that we must find another factor that led to economic difficulties of the real sectors of Russia. For example, the so-called financial deepening cannot be considered to have proceeded sufficiently in Russia if compared to Japan, England, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. As for the first one the author suggests that decrease of “terms of trade effect” after the crisis, which occurred because of oil price decline, might have been one of the important factors for GDP setback. By explaining about these three conundrums the author clarifies a special economic structure of Russia: vulnerability to foreign shocks.
This article examines how the global financial and economic crisis and the accompanying change in international oil prices have affected Russia’s internal and external affairs, especially the tandem system of governance and its foreign policy towards East Asia. Because this crisis was not foreseen when the tandem administration was introduced, at present, political stability is suffering from poor crisis management. While it cannot be said that the tandem system has been fundamentally damaged, judging from the fact that Prime Minister Putin is increasingly adopting a hands-on approach, the probability that he will be back as President in the coming presidential election is growing. Though not proved, Russia’s assertive foreign policy largely depended on the high international oil prices before the Georgian conflict. Whether Russia likes it or not, after the global financial and economic crisis, Russia has to tap East Asia to recover its economic growth by exporting more energy products to the emerging new markets there. However, we should not overestimate this trend as East Asia is not Russia’s top-most foreign policy priority, and Russia does not accord that much strategic importance to East Asia. Because Russia’s national goal for 2020, as stated in “National Security Strategy through to 2020 of Russian Federation,” is continued economic growth so as to become the fifth-largest economy in the world, it is much more important—after this crisis—to pay attention to the correlation between economic and political factors using the interdisciplinary method.
The purpose of this paper is to examine why Latvia was affected deeply by the financial crisis among EU and other countries. In order to shed light on the situation before and after the financial crisis in 2008, we should at first point out the background factors. The wide-scale demonstration against the economic policy of the last Government in January, 2009 is still fresh in our minds. As a result of the demonstration, Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis was forced to resign and in last March, a young politician, Valdis Dombrovskis from Jaunas Laiks came on stage as the Prime Minister. As the cause of steep economic rise, Minister of Finance Einars Repše explained the 18% sharp decrease of GDP in 2009 resulting from the end of the bubble economy in Latvia. According to the survey by the European Commission, conducted in autumn, 2009, 97% responded that it was very bad or rather bad on the economic situation. The survey also shows that 88% of respondents distrust the Government. The author analyzes the background factors from the following three. First, there are still all kinds of legacy from past Soviet times. It is true that wide-scale social transformations had occurred since 1991, but we have to take into consideration Latvia’s historical background with Soviet times. Second, she had to make efforts to speed up to convert to a market economy and to develop it. It was because Latvia wanted to keep up with the current tendencies in Eastern Europe so as to enter EU membership. She was afraid of being left behind from the neighboring countries, like other Baltic countries or the Central European countries. Third, the Government gave priority to her external policy over her domestic policy after Latvia’s re-independence from Soviet Union in 1991. As a result, she could not sufficiently respond to a variety of demands and expectations of the people. She had to fulfill criteria for entering EU at first and at the same time the Government did not have the leeway to focus on internal issues. In particular, we must never forget the influence on the domestic issues at the time of becoming a member of EU and NATO are involved. To be sure, Latvia tended to depart from the economic tie away from her dependence on Russia, although they still have to rely heavily on Russia for energy. On the other hand, she accepted foreign investments from Scandinavian and other countries in a positive manner. After Latvia became a member of EU in 2004, foreign investment increased rapidly more than ever, although Latvia needed to develop the ability to achieve sustained economic growth on her own. Parex Bank’s rapid growth during the 1990s’ and the nationalization of Parex Bank in November 2008 after its bankruptcy shows us heavy Russian influence on Latvian economy. We have to continue paying attention to the invisible economic tie of Latvia with its influential neighboring country, Russia.
Russian society has been drastically changing for the past ten years, especially because of the terrible financial crisis that has struck the worlds’ economy in 2009. Due to this process of change, it is very difficult to provide a graphic illustration of today’s Russian literature and proffer a treatise on its future. It is nonetheless important and necessary to give a detailed analysis of the current state of Russian literature in order to investigate the direction in which the profound changes occurring in Russia and in Russian art are headed. This paper is aimed at analyzing the novels of the most important Russian writers from the 1990s to the present day and examining how they are perceived by the public of readers in Russia. Many of these novels have yet to be translated into Japanese and are not widely known. In the post-Communist era, a select number of Russian writers began to publish a myriad of works under the banner of “here and now”. These works were written using many expressions taken from everyday slang without any direct reference to classical literature. Rather, the writers aimed at representing what they saw “in front of their eyes” and depicted themselves in the micro-cosmos of their own literature. Readers can access all of these works on the Internet. Literature has greatly changed from what we knew it to be a decade ago. Even the Internet has become a great library that anyone can approarch. For example, until the 1990s, writers would argue what the revolution meant for Russia, and politics were often discussed in their works. Nowadays, issues like these are not considered as important in contemporary literature. It is possible to consider “post-realism” as the most appropriate definition of Russian literature from the 1990s hitherto. This concept has been proposed by N. Lejderman and M. Lipovitsky, who worked to combine realism and post-modernism. In terms of analyzing the style of contemporary Russian writers, we can regard V. Erofeev and O. Slavnikova as the representatives of the 1990s and the 2000s. The text of “Overshoes” and “Encyclopedia of Russian Soul” by V. Erofeev, “2017” and “Love in the seventh Coach” by O. Slavnikova show that the same writers can compose in different styles. “Magic-realism”, observed in their novels, is also a characteristic of Russian literature which derives from the 1990s. In addition to popular B. Akunin, L. Petrushevskaya, L. Ulitskaya and aforementioned authors, the most important Russian writers today must be D. Rubina, A. Gelasimov, V. P’etsukh, Z. Prilepin, and also M. Shishkin, E. Limonov as the writers of “diaspora”. Traditionally, Russian literature has always tried to blaspheme authority, drawing largely on poetry and metaphors to slander establishment. Does today’s Russian literature dare to do this? Does censorship still exist in Russia? These are the questions for us to answer.
With the disintegration of former Yugoslavia, Macedonia became an independent state. Similar to other Republics of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia had to carry out double transitions, i.e. transition to a market economy and transition from a regional economy to a national economy. For a newly independent small country to survive the environment of market economy, it is required to settle domestic conflicts, establish good relationship with neighboring countries and secure economic independence. Western Balkan countries, which have experienced ethnic conflicts and still have domestic ethnic problems, would not be assured of their survival as long as they remain outside the European Union. This paper examines how Macedonia has been tackling the above mentioned problems, proceeding toward EU accession in the context of the EU’s Stabilization and Association Process. This paper stresses the following points: First, domestic conflicts between the Macedonian population and the Albanian population was settled for the time being by the Ohrid Framework Agreement in 2001, but the situation is still precarious. Their peaceful co-existence should be consolidated with support from the international community, especially the EU. Second, at the turn of the 21st century the relationship with its neighboring countries, except Greece, has been significantly improved. As Greece is the nearest member country of the EU, it is urgently necessary for Macedonia to improve its relationship with this country. Regardless of the diplomatic conflict over the name of the country with Greece, the economic relation between both countries is becoming closer. However, as long as Greece opposes, Macedonia will not be able to enter into its accession negotiations with EU. It seems that a compromise between both countries in this regard is not impossible. Third, CEFTA 2006, a multilateral free trade agreement, is very important for Macedonia. Western Balkan countries are required to endeavor to make this agreement effectively function in order to increase intra-regional trade, attract more FDI and prepare for their EU accession. Fourth, Macedonia is facing a problem of structural fragility of its economy. Its external debt and domestic public debt are not at so critical levels. However, the unemployment is very high and its informal sector has reached an abnormally big scale. It is urgently necessary for the country to increase jobs. Also the problem of chronic trade deficit should be overcome.
In order to understand concretely how the Russian Imperial government used the nobility in state service in the 18th century, it is necessary to investigate the actual conditions in the army, because many noblemen were firstly recruited into the army and trained there as state servants. Once temporarily established under the reign of Peter I only for the coronation ceremony of his Empress Catherine on 8 May, 1724, the Cavalry Guards (Kavalergardy) were reformed as a permanent military unit by Catherine I at the end of 1725. This corps has two noteworthy features. Firstly, unlike the other two existing guard regiments that included soldiers and officers who were recruited from the common people, it was composed exclusively of both Russian and foreign noblemen, most of whom started state service as common soldiers or dragoons and attained the status of company officers on the basis of their continuous work and abilities. Being appointed to the Cavalry Guards was rather beneficial for these military functionaries, because they were frequently and quickly promoted to a higher rank either while in office or at the transfer to different posts despite not being expected to actually fight on the battlefield. After leaving the Cavalry Guards, some of the members became core commanders of the two guard regiments newly founded under Anna Ioannovna in 1730, and others reached the top four ranks in the Russian army or the administrative system. Along with these high-ranking officials, many of the ex-cavalrymen were promoted to offices leading regiments, battalions, or local governments, acquiring grades equal to field officers. Judging from such social origins and career patterns of the staff, the Cavalry Guards can be seen one of the important resources for the Imperial government to gather and organize the talented and experienced noblemen distributed across the vast Empire, thereby utilizing their abilities not only in military but also in civil organs. Furthermore, this unit played a social role in absorbing and posting serviceable foreign families into Russia. The second important point is that the Cavalry Guards were mainly used in the Westernized court and state ceremonies, which were employed by the Russian rulers, especially after the Petrine reform, to propagate their unrivalled authority both in- and outside Russia. For example, at the coronation of Empress Catherine in the Moscow Kremlin, the cavalrymen in white wigs, hats with gold lace and white ribbons, green woollen coats, and red woollen vests guarded both the front and the rear end of the procession of the Empress and her husband when they paraded from the court to the ceremonial cathedral. Contributing greatly to the glorification of the rituals and monarchical power, such colourful costumes attracted considerable attention from contemporaries, above all, the foreign diplomats, one of whom noted their resemblance to the uniforms of the French musketeers (mousquetaire). Additionally, soon after Anna’s arrival at the outskirts of Moscow and at a relatively early stage of her coronation, the Cavalry Guards were granted a special audience with her, which symbolically suggested the respectful treatment of the rulers. Such favour could also have strengthened the connections between the imperial power and the elite, thereby supporting the rapid development of the 18th-century Russian Empire.
This article presents quantitative aspects of the party system in Lithuania and argues that Lithuania’s electoral institutions (mixed-member majoritarian system) define the quantitative features of its party system. There has been an ambivalent view of Lithuanian party politics in the literature. Some scholars argue that it is a highly fragile and volatile system, while others assert that it is stable. Several scholars have argued that its complexity could be explained as a result of intertemporal change. Adding to this debate, I argue that the differing evaluations of the Lithuanian party system is the result of analyses based on different measurement scores. The view that the system is unstable is supported by the multitude of political parties that seats in the parliament and the view that it is volatile is evidenced by the fact that newcomer parties easily win seats. On the other hand, effective party number index (known as the Laakso-Taagepera index) and the bipolar cabinet forming support the view that the system is stable. This article organizes and clears up various quantitative features of the party system of Lithuania and argues that its two main aspects—its instability (multitude of political parties) and its volatility (newcomer parties)—are prominent features of the political systems in other Central and East European countries. In order to explore the origins of these two prominent aspects of the Lithuanian party system, this article focuses on Lithuania’s electoral institutions. Socioeconomic and historical factors cannot account for the quantitative aspects of Lithuanian party politics. Lithuania has adopted the mixed-member majoritarian system as their electoral system, an institution that is very exceptional in the context of the Central and East European democracies. Referring to theoretical research in electoral studies, I argue that Lithuania’s adaptation of the mixed-member system is an explanatory variable in the determination of the quantitative aspects of Lithuania’s party system. This is because Lithuania’s adaptation of the mixed-member system, including single member district, do not promotes two party systems, rather fragmentizes the party system and foments personal voting. These effects are bolstered by contamination effects which occur in the mixed-member majoritarian system, seats distribution rule and the transitional fledgling Lithuanian party system. Observation clearly shows that single-member districts are responsible for the multitude of political parties, which are seated in the Lithuanian parliament. Representatives from about four to six parties are elected in proportional representation districts, but representatives from ten parties are elected in single member districts in Lithuania. Moreover, profiles of political elites who organize new political parties show that those who have been elected in single member districts are significantly involved in splitting from existing parties and forming new political parties. In addition, in single member districts it is easier for a member of the local elite possessing a political or economic power base to win an election than in another type of district. Lithuania’s party politics exhibit aspects of both stability and instability. However, the quantitative character and prominent features of the party system have been considerably defined by its mixed-member majoritarian electoral system.