Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia

Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia

Timothy M. Frye

Marshall D. Schulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy

Harriman Institute

Columbia University

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Join us for a provocative look at contemporary Russian politics that will challenge your pre-conceived notions of Russia and Vladimir Putin’s power. Timothy Frye offers an extremely informative and unique assessment of current Russian politics. Based on over three decades of on-the-ground experience, and current trends in social science, Prof. Frye’s new book, Weak Strongman, examines Russia’s similarities to other autocracies and assesses the challenges that the Kremlin faces today with regard to foreign policy, propaganda, repression, economic interests, varying levels of corruption, and election fraud. 

Frye offers startling new revelations of Russia’s delicate balancing of powers and discusses how popular is Putin, the inherent limits to his power, is Russian propaganda really effective, why relations with the West are so tense, and if Russian cyber warriors can actually influence a foreign election. Frye also offers commentary on the invasion of the Ukraine.

Looking past Russia’s unique history and culture and Putin’s seemingly absolute power,, Frye highlights the challenges of governing Russia and the nature of a modern personalist autocracy. Rich in personal anecdotes, his reassessment of Russian politics offers the best evidence available about how Russia really works.  

Professor Frye received a BA in Russian Language & Literature from Middlebury College, an MA, from the Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs as well as a PhD in political science from Columbia. He specializes in comparative politics and political economy focusing on the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and writes and teaches about the politics of corruption, autocracy, and economic development usually with a focus on Russia and Eurasia.
Timothy Frye is the author of Brokers and Bureaucrats: Building Markets in Russia which received the 2001 Hewett Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, and Building States and Markets after Communism: The Perils of Polarized Democracy, winner of a Best Book Prize from the APSA Comparative Democratization section in 2010, and Property Rights and Property Wrongs: How Power, Institutions, and Norms Shape Economic Conflict in Russia published in 2017. He is also the author of numerous academic articles. Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia is his most recent book.