This book analyzes a crucial aspect of one of the great dramas of modern times -- the reconstitution of the Russian polity and economy after more than 70 years of communist rule. This is the first book to look comprehensively and systematically at Russia's democratic transition at the local level. Its goal is to explain why some of the new political institutions in the Russian provinces weathered the monumental changes of the early 1990s better than others. Using newly available econmoic, political and sociological data to test various theories of democratization and institutional performance, Stoner-Weiss finds that traditional theories are unable to explain variations in regional govenment performance in Russia. This provocative work, solidly grounded in research and theory, will interest anyone concerned with issues of economic and political transition.