Kremlinology is the study and analysis of the politics and policies of Russia, while the term Sovietology means the study of politics and policies of the Soviet Union and former communist states more general. These two terms were synonymous until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 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.
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.
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
The term "Kremlinology" is still in use in application to the study of decision-making processes in the politics of the Russian Federation. 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
- Anders Åslund
- John Barron, author of The KGB Today
- Mark R. Beissinger
- Zbigniew Brzezinski
- Hélène Carrère d'Encausse
- Olavo de Carvalho
- Walter Clemens, Jr.
- Stephen F. Cohen
- Marshall Goldman
- Donald E. Graves
- Jonathan Haslam
- William G. Hyland
- George F. Kennan
- Khurshid Kasuri
- Michael Kort
- William Mandel
- Jack F. Matlock, Jr.
- Mark Palmer
- Richard Pipes
- Condoleezza Rice
- Mark Saroyan
- Stephen Sestanovich
- Dimitri K. Simes
- Marshall D. Shulman
- Llewellyn Thompson – Robert Kennedy's Kremlinologist
- Robert C. Tucker – biographer of Joseph Stalin and former head of Princeton's Russian Studies program
- Adam Ulam – brother of Stanisław Ulam and head of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University
- Donald Zagoria
- Trinity Bowen
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- Soviet–United States relations
- Russo–United States relations
- Team B
- Predictions of Soviet collapse
- China watcher
- Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies
- Russian studies
- List of Russian legal historians
- Russian legal history
- Soviet and Communist studies
- Smolensk Archive
- ""Kremlinology" definition". merriam-webster.com. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
Definition of KREMLINOLOGY: the study of the policies and practices of the former Soviet government
- ""Sovietology" definition". thefreedictionary.com. The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- Lawson, Eugene K. (1984). The Sino-Vietnamese Conflict. Praeger. pp. 8–9.
- Poland is in the Eurasian Union: the mythology of Russian-Polish relations. Eurasian Club East - West, October 2012