ГЕРБ РОССИИ                   Political Science 366

POLS 366: Politics of Russia and Eurasia
Spring 2004


E-Mail Address

Course Description


Written Assignments

Department Page

Assignments & Dates



Professor:                                 Daniel R. Kempton
Meeting time and place:            459 Dusable Hall, M, W 2:00-3:15 PM
Office address/phone:               753-7040
Office hours:                             M 10:30-12, W 10:30-12:00, Th 1:00-2:30, and by appointment.
E-Mail:                                     dkempton@niu.edu*

*The professor normally checks his e-mail about 4 times per week. If you a need a more rapid response please call me, or stop by during my office hours.

Course description/objectives: The first objective of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the politics of the newly emerging states of Eurasia. While the main focus of this course will be Russian politics, there also will be some discussion of the other fourteen former Soviet republics and relations among these states. The course is divided into four units. The first unit discusses the geography and climate of the region. The second focuses on the political and economic history of the region. Special attention is given to the legacies of the Tsarist and Soviet periods. The third and largest unit focuses on the politics of contemporary Russia. The final unit will survey of recent political developments and problems in some of the other Eurasian States. As most of you are aware, Russia and the other Eurasian states are now undergoing a period of rapid and profound change. The course will address these ongoing changes. During each Wednesday class session, the first 15 minutes of class will be set aside to discuss these developments. Student participation is highly encouraged during this time (and in the class as a whole). This will provide an opportunity to discuss political developments in Eurasia, and to voice competing opinions. To provide material for these discussions, students will be required to read Gazeta, currently Russia’s most read on line newspaper. An English language version of Gazeta may be accessed at: http://www.gazeta.ru/english/. The second course objective is to help students develop their abilities to think and argue logically both orally and in writing. The course thus presents numerous opportunities for class participation. In addition to the weekly discussions, students are expected to read and discuss in class the six cases assigned below. As much as the professor would like each of you to dedicate your lives to the study and analysis of Russian politics, this is not likely. Realistically, therefore, the opportunities the class offers you to develop your analytical and communication skills may be its greatest benefit to you. The professor recognizes that students come to this course with extremely varied backgrounds and majors. Some will undoubtedly bring to the course extensive background in political science, while others will have extensive knowledge of Russian area studies. Thus the professor will not presume any specialized background knowledge. However, the professor will gladly assist any students who wish to pursue additional reading or research.

Required/recommended texts: It should soon become apparent that the lectures are not a mere reiteration of the readings. The readings and lectures are presented as complementary (and only sometimes overlapping) sources of information. You will be responsible for the material presented in both. Thus, some of the test questions will cover material from the readings that has not been specifically addressed in class.

A. Readings from the following texts have been assigned as specified in the course outline. They are available at both the Village Commons and the Holmes Student Center Bookstores.

  1. Thomas F. Remington, Politics in Russia, 3d ed., New York, NY: Pearson Longman, 2004.
  2. Daniel R. Kempton & Terry D. Clark, eds., Unity or Separation: Center-Periphery Relations in the Former Soviet Union, New York, Praeger Publishers, 2002.  (recommended)

B. The following seven cases have been assigned. These are short readings and can also be purchased in either the bookstore. Copies of each case will also be placed on reserve at the library.

  1. Summit or Standoff: Responding to Lithuania's Bid for Independence (KSG C16-91-1092.0)
  2. Northern Territories Controversy (Pew Case #364)
  3. The August Coup: Part A (KSG C16-92-1147-0)
  4. Elena Kotova and the Moscow Privatization Agency (KSG C16-92-1141)
  5. Up in Arms: Russian Rockets Sales for India (Pew 99-N)
  6. From Russia to Kaliningrad: The Case of Russian Transit Rights through Lithuania. (Pew 370-96N)
  7. After the Empire: Estonia and Russia Negotiate Borders and Citizenship (Pew 474-99-N)

C. Each Week students are required to read at least two stories about Russian politics in Gazeta, Russia’s leading on-line newspaper.  The online version of the newspaper in English is available at: http://www.gazeta.ru/english/ .  Please read articles that focus on politics in Russia, or the other states of the former Soviet Union.  Most often the story labeled “leading article” will be a good choice.  For those with Russian language skills, your are encouraged to try the Russian language version of the politics section at: http://www.gazeta.ru/politics/ .

Writing assignments: To learn more about contemporary developments in the former Soviet Union, each student will be expected to keep a journal that summarizes recent political developments in Eurasia as they are reported in Gazeta.  Each week in their journals students will be expected to write entries for two major articles dealing with Russian politics.  These entries should include a brief summary of the basic development, but should primarily consist of the student’s assessment of the implications of these developments.  For example, what do these developments mean for Russia's future political stability or for democracy in Russia?  Do you agree with the policy being undertaken?  Approximately two entries should be made every week.  Each entry should be approximately a half of page in length double spaced and standard fonts and margins (no jumbo or minute text) and can tie together multiple "related" articles. Journal articles should be cited in text by date, for example (www.gazeta.ru, 6 January 2004).  The name of the month unfortunately only appears in Russian, but you should convert it to English. Direct quotes must be placed in quotes. Journal entries may not be taken verbatim from the text. If there are not a sufficient number of stories, articles from Pravda (http://english.pravda.ru/) may also be included in your journals.  This Pravda is a pro-government publication and is not affiliated with the Communist Party of Russia.  All journals must be typed on a computer or word processor so that they may be revised. The journal will be submitted twice during the semester. On both occasions it will be graded. The first submission is due on February 25th and is worth 15% of the final grade. (It should contain 12 total entries.) The second submission is due on April 21, will also contain 12 new entries, and is also worth 15% of the journal grade.

Journals are due at the beginning of class on the assigned day.  Late journals will be downgraded 1/3 letter grade for each weekday that they are late. (A journal submitted after the beginning of class will be considered one day late).  Thus, an "A" brief becomes and "A-" after one day and a "B+" after two days. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Therefore, students with sick relatives, paper-eating canines, low-life typists, or ill-tempered computers--as well as those students who are routinely taken hostage aboard alien spaceships--are strongly encouraged to compensate for any potential mishaps by preparing their journals in advance of the submission deadlines.

With the first journal submission students should submit a proposed topic for approval. With the second journal submission (in addition to the 12 new entries) students are required to produce a case study of an issue that was previously dealt with in the journal. Thus, summarizing in your journal multiple stories on the same topic would be prudent. The essay should be approximately 5 pages, double spaced with normal margins and type size. As with the assigned cases, the topic chosen for the essay should involve a decision or dilemma for a specific post-Soviet politician, government, or governmental organization. (You are encouraged to discuss your topic with the professor prior to submitting your first journal.) The essay will then look at the dilemma from the perspective of an identified government or individual decision maker. It should identify the objectives or goals of the decision maker and at least two alternative policies to meet the objectives. Then analyze the alternatives in terms of the likelihood that they will each meet the decision maker’s objectives. Then recommend a policy based on the likelihood that a given policy will meet the objectives. Students may elect to write the essay using only RFE/RL Gazeta articles. To add background and depth, however, outside sources may be consulted. There is a listing of some other useful sources at the end of this syllabus. All sources should be properly footnoted using an accepted style. The case study will count for 10% of the semester grade.

Undergraduate Writing Awards: The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 25. All copies should have two cover pages--one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.

Plagiarism Statement: "The attempt of any student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university." Northern Illinois University Undergraduate Catalog.

Grading: There will be two examinations, a mid-term and a final examination. Each will represent 25% of the semester grade. The examinations will cover the material presented in the lectures, the readings and class discussions. The mid-term examination will be administered in class on March 9 and the final will be administered on May 11, 10-11:50 PM. The final will not be cumulative in the traditional sense. An alternative examination date will be offered on May 6, at a time and place to be announced. If you wish to take the examination on the alternative date, for whatever reason, you must submit a hand written request to do so before May 2. Those who do not submit such a request will take the examination at the regular time.

Midterm Exam = 25%
Final Exam = 25%
1st Journal Submission = 15%
2nd Journal Submission = 15%
Journal Essay = 10%
Participation = 10%

Attendance policy: Students who miss more than two case days or more than five class periods in total will have a deduction taken from their participation grade. The participation grade will assess the quality and quantity of each student's participation in class. The participation grade will account for 10 % of the semester grade.

Students with Disabilities: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU us committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.

Web Site: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department event, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://www.niu.edu/acad/polisci/pols/html.

Assignments and Due Dates:



Jan. 12

Introduction and Distribution of Course Syllabi

Jan. 21

CASE #1 Summit or Standoff: Regarding Lithuania's Bid

Jan. 14 & 
Jan. 26

I. The Geography and Climate of Eurasia 
Remington, Preface & Chapter 1


II. The History of Eurasia

Jan. 28

1. The Tsarist Period 
 Remington, Chpt. 2

Feb. 2 & 4

2. The Soviet Economic System 

Remington, Chpt. 3

Feb. 9

CASE #2 Elena Kotova and the Moscow Privatization Agency


3. The Soviet Political System 

Feb. 16

Feb. 18

a. the Soviet State 
Remington, Chpt. 5

Feb. 23 
Feb. 25

b. the Communist Party 
Remington, Chpt. 6

Feb.  25

FIRST JOURNAL SUBMISSION (5 week = 5-10 pages)

Mar. 1

Case #3 The August Coup: Part A (KSC C16-92-1147-0)

Mar. 3


Mar. 15

4. Mikhail Gorbachev & the Collapse of the Soviet Union 

Remington, Chpt. 7


III. Russia

Mar. 17

CASE #4 Northern Territories Controversy (Pew #364)



Mar. 22 
& 24

1. The Politics of Federalism in Russia 
Kempton & Clark, Chpts.1, 2, 4,

Mar. 29

2. The Executive 
Kempton & Clark, Chpts. 8 & 14

Mar. 31

CASE #5 Up in Arms: Russian Rocket Sales for India (Pew Case)

Apr. 5

3. The Legislative Branch 
Remington, Chpt. 8

Apr. 7

4. The Judicial Branch (& the Bureaucracy)

Apr. 12

5. Parties, Participation & Democracy 

Remington, Chpt. 4

Apr. 14

Apr. 19

IV. The Commonwealth & the Near Abroad 
Kempton & Clark, 10, 11 & 12

Apr. 21

JOURNAL IS DUE! (7 weeks = 7-14 pages)

Apr. 21

Case #6 From Russia to Kaliningrad: Transit Rights... (Pew 370-96N)

Apr. 26

Russian Foreign Policy

Remington, Chpt. 9

Apr. 28

CASE #7 After the Empire: Russia Negotiate Borders & Citizenship (Pew)

May 3 

Alternate Final Examination, 8-9:50 PM, DuSable, Rm 459

May 5

FINAL EXAMINATION, 12-1:50 PM, DuSable, Rm 459

LINKS to Relevant Sites:

Gazeta Online (http://www.gazeta.ru/english/)

GazetaSNG, General CIS News (http://eng.gazetasng.ru/)

(Itar Tass, News Agency (http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/)

Moscow News, Weekly Online (http://www.mn.ru/english/)

Moscow Times Online (http://www.themoscowtimes.com/indexes/01.html)

Pravda Online (not affiliated with the Communist Party) (http://english.pravda.ru/)

RIA-Novosti, State Run News Agency (http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm)

Russian Government (http://www.gov.ru/index.html)

Russian Political Weekly, for US Radio Liberty (http://www.rferl.org/rpw/)

BBC World News
Christian Science Monitor
CNN Breaking News
 The Times (London)
New York Times
Washington Post

Electronic Citation Style Manuals

Bartlett's Quotations

Maps of Russia and Eurasia

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