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Kremlinology is the study and analysis of the politics and policies of Communist states, and especially of the Soviet Union. The term has some overlap with Sovietology, which refers to study of Soviet society as a whole. The term is named after the Kremlin, the seat of today's Russian and then-Soviet government. Kremlinologist refers to academic, media, and commentary experts who specialize in the study of Kremlinology. The term is sometimes sweepingly used to describe Western scholars who researched issues of, or specialized in, Russian/Soviet law, although the correct term is simply Russian law scholar. Sovietologists or Kremlinologists should also be distinguished from transitologists, scholars who study legal, economic and social transitions from communism to capitalism.


During the Cold War, lack of reliable information about the country forced Western analysts to "read between the lines" and to use the tiniest tidbits, such as the removal of portraits, the rearranging of chairs, positions at the reviewing stand for parades in Red Square, the choice of capital or small initial letters in phrases such as "First Secretary", the arrangement of articles on the pages of the party newspaper "Pravda" and other indirect signs to try to understand what was happening in internal Soviet politics.

To study the relations between Communist fraternal states, Kremlinologists compare the statements issued by the respective national Communist parties, looking for omissions and discrepancies in the ordering of objectives. The description of state visits in the Communist press are also scrutinized, as well as the degree of hospitality leant to dignitaries. Kremlinology also emphasizes ritual, in that it notices and ascribes meaning to the unusual absence of a policy statement on a certain anniversary or holiday.[1]

In the German language, such attempts acquired the somewhat derisive name "Kreml-Astrologie" (Kremlin Astrology), hinting at the fact that its results were often vague and inconclusive, if not outright wrong.

After the Cold War[edit]

The term "Kremlinology" is still in use in application to the study of decision-making processes in the politics of the Russian Federation.[2] In popular culture, the term is sometimes used to mean any attempt to understand a secretive organization or process, such as plans for upcoming products or events, by interpreting indirect clues.

Notable Kremlinologists and Sovietologists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lawson, Eugene K. (1984). The Sino-Vietnamese Conflict. Praeger. pp. 8–9. 
  2. ^ Poland is in the Eurasian Union: the mythology of Russian-Polish relations. Eurasian Club East - West, October 2012