This chapter treats the specific features of political leadership and political elites in historic and contemporary Russia, as well as the basic factors determining the nature of Russian political leadership. The conditions of the formation of the Russian state led to the need for ‘rigid’ forms of political organization during the last five centuries. Integral elements of these systems were the corresponding models of elite recruitment (based on the predominance of the bureaucracy affiliated with the state) and political leadership (rigid, authoritarian and violent). The considerable changes in the format of leadership in post-Soviet Russia were due not only to the abandonment of a rigid political system but also to the rapidly growing importance of communications in the political process (the virtualization and mediatization of politics). The post-Soviet period is marked by a certain evolution of leadership types from gorbachev to yeltsin to Putin to Medvedev. The expansion of the relative share of career bureaucrats under Putin and the reappearance of visible rigidity of leadership practices are not anomalies in the context of global trends in the evolution of political leadership.