Nikolai Rozov. Strategy for a New Principle

The paradox of Russian corruption is the attitude of broad tolerance towards it despite regular campaigns for “combating” corruption. Since it is built into the foundationsof the country’s political and economic order, corruption in Russia is regarded as a practicallynormal phenomenon. This “normality” is viewed through the prism of the classical principal- agent model, the concept of the efficiency ofcorruption as a tool of control in authoritarian states (Christopher Darden), the “soft legal restraints” model (Kirill Rogov) with systemsof broken formal rules and unbroken corporatecorruption rules, and also the idea of new fiefdom related to hypertrophy of redistributionand rent relations. The resulting picture of the inner nature of present-day Russian corruptionmakes it possible to develop several stages of astrategy for overcoming it that can only be a part of broader political, institutional and mental transformations.

Alexei Muraviev, Alexander Nemirovsky. A Sin before God or People

In the societies of the ancient Near East, corruption was present due to the level of their social and economic development. At the same time, two distinct forms of the attitude towards the very phenomenon of corruption in these societies can be singled out. The former, “horizontal” one is examined in the article through the example of the society of ancient Egypt, where the preservation of the social balance, upset by officials’ acts of corruption, was the most essential. “Vertical” social models are those in which corruption is part of ontological evil, the imperfection of the world, and the struggle against it is a struggle against “depravation.” This viewpoint is examined through the example of the Old Testament texts, which took shape against the background of the ancient Egypt civilization but which reflect a different attitude towards corruption. The Old Testament texts reflect cases of “depravation” both with respect to God and with respect to man as “mischief.” The prophets’ denouncements also rank corruption with “iniquity.” The New Testament tradition, on the whole, follows the general biblical idea. European and Russian culture and social practice have inherited the biblical model and conceptualized corruption as a particular case of ontological “depravation” of the world and manand his sinfulness and unworthiness.

Dmitry Rogozin. Bibliographical Overview of Publications on Corruption

Thanks to access to the ISI Web of Science international abstract database, provided by the National Research University Higher School of Economics to its staff, the author has carried out a systematic analysis of publications on corruption in the magazines abstracted from early last century tothe present year. The overview focuses on the mainthematic trends in elaborating subjects related tocorruption, identifies academic opinion leaders andpoints out national distinctions in corruption-relatedpublication activity. Based on a comparison of publications on corruption brought out in Russia and about Russia, an national corruption accountabilityindex of the subject is proposed. The bibliographicaloverview shows that, in the outside view, Russia has become a super-corrupted country over the last decade. Regardless of the actual state of affairs, such strong discursive stigmatization of the country leadsto additional negative consequences both for privatebusiness and for the state as a whole.

Alexander Auzan. Hostages to Mistrust: An Interview

In countries with a so-called regime of limited access to economic and political resources (underwhich 175 states including Russia are living), whererelations are personalized, corruption is one of the backbones of the society. In such countries, a proposal to combat corruption is equivalent to a proposal to quarrel with one’s bread and butter. Imprudent attempts at combating corruption may subsequently lead to a complication of the disease.  To achieve a transition to an open access system, Russian citizens will have to go through a shift in value attitudes and find a national modernization formula, that is, a way of combining their informal institutions with known effective development patterns.

Simon Kordonsky. Kickback Norm: An Interview

The phenomenon of corruption is regarded as a quality of the resource-based organization of the state and of the estate social system of present-day Russia. An analogy is drawn between the price of money (bank interest rate) in a market economy and the kickback norm, that is, the share of resources which the recipient of the resources has to give (“kick back”) to the person who distributes there sources. It is stated that it is precisely the kickback that is the motive force of the economic and social development of a resource-based state. The kickback norm is regulated by punitive measures. A mild punitive policy leads to an increase in the kickback norm and stagnation of the resource distribution system. In the final analysis, the contemporary forms of struggle against corruption boil down to a repartition of the market of kickbacks, that is, the replacement of some resource distributing officials with others.

Ella Paneyakh. Lubricating Oil

In its present form, the Russian state as a system of interrelated organizations is aimed at deriving administrative rent. All the rest are side effects. When introducing new rules aimed at combating the improper use of budget funds within an organization that exists for the sake of improper use of budget funds, you thus make illegal any use of funds at all. And it is only as a side effect of this over-regulation that the simple cash “corruption” which everyone is so keen on combating emerges. It is not the cause of the disease, but rather its symptom — a symptom of excessive bureaucratic power, unreasonable severity of punishment and the inflexibility and rigidity of regulations. Applying this antidote is no less dangerous than administering any self-medication, yet it looks more like lubricating oil than corrosion.

Igor Averkiev. Bribe as a Tool of Social Struggle

The author expounds on corruption, modeling the viewpoint of the man in the street, to whom it is not abstract democratic rights (“to elect and be elected”) but the possibility of influencing the authorities in his own interests that is of value. In present-day Russia, it is easier for the man in the street to influence the authorities by buying their services.

Vasily Zharkov, Dmitry Rogozin. Russian Corruption As Represented in Eyewitnesses’ Accounts

The article presents the findings of an ethnographic survey of corruption interactions. The authors abandoned the traditional methods involving expert interviews, opinion polls or focus groups, having given preference to informal meetings and conversations. Eight protracted conversations with major businessmen and top managers were held at cafes and restaurants. Having begun with the task of drawing “corruption trees,” the authors soon saw the simple and linear character of the being of corruption. As it turned out, there was nothing to describe, since corruption relies on obvious and simple actions. Much more productive, from the surveyors’ point of view, is the question of why this obviousness is accepted by all the participants in a corrupt transaction and on what principles it is constructed. A detailed discursive division of the aggregate text of transcripts made it possible to re-create the overall picture of the notions, often mixed and confused, of the total character of corruption relations which are very hard to avoid in present-day Russia.


Vladimir Rimsky. The Judiciary and Bribes

The article presents estimates of bribery in the Russian judiciary as a social phenomenon, based on the INDEM Foundation’s 2001-2010 survey findings. Bribery in courts of law by ordinary individuals and business people and by business people is considered separately. The conclusion is that bribery in courts by ordinary individuals remained roughly on the same level throughout this period. However, the size of bribes and individuals’ risks involved in giving bribes in courts were among the highest compared with the other branches of government. During the same period, bribery in courts by business people grew substantially. In fact, the judiciary, acting quite in a market way, increased their informal income from bribes received from business people, who are much better off financially than the other citizens whose bribes in courts could not grow any more. In this situation, a continuation of the judicial reform will lead neither to a decrease in the level of corruption in courts of law nor to real independence of the judiciary.

Sergei Golunov. Corruption on the Borders of the Russian Federation: Preconditions, Practices and Ways of Counteracting It

Corruption in the border, customs and other services controlling the state border of the Russian Federation is one of the main problems of Russian border policy. The article examines the evolutionof corruption relations on the country’s borderin the post-Soviet period and typical corruption practices and analyzes the measures undertaken by the Russian authorities to solve this problem. Skeptically evaluating the probability of victory overcorruption on the Russian border in the foreseeable future, the author believes that the key to success lies, above all, in simplifying the procedures and norms governing such control, and also in stepping up the authorities’ dialogue with various categories of people crossing the border and providing them with opportunities to effectively defend their interests in the face of the mighty power structures.

Leonid Kosals, Anastasia Dubova. Police and the Market

The article centers on the shadow economic activities of the Russian police. Despite its primary function of statutory regulation, the police have become, in many countries undergoing transformation, rather a means of destabilizing the situation. The police are actively involved in economic activities, which are largely rooted into the business and political environment. The authors describe the complex intertwining of the legal and illegal aspects of these activities. The article reveals the fundamental causes of commercialization of police officers and the social, economic and political consequences of this phenomenon. The description is based on the findings of surveys conducted by key Russian research groups working in this area.

Kirill Titaev. Academic Collusion

In his article, the author tells about the situation that has developed in Russian higher education. Used as the main theoretical tool is the concept of “tacit collusion.” This term describes a situation where all the participants in a transaction begin to break rules and turn a blind eye to the breach of rules by the other party so that the damage is shifted to third parties. Based on the findings of qualitative surveys (20022011), the article shows how the transformations of Russian higher education institutions are defined by the concept of “tacit collusion.” At this stage, institutional incentives at university and college departments are such that they make it advantageous for university teachers to reduce both the quality of their work and their demands on students. Whereas students, in turn, find themselves at more advantage when they place no demands on teachers and slack in their studies.

Oleg Leibovich, Natalia Shushkova. Cultural Basis of Corruption at Higher Education Institutions

The article analyzes the cultural component of corruption at higher education institutions. Based on an analysis of empirical sources, the mental and statutory sources of grassroots corruption behavior among university teachers are revealed. Ahypothesis is advanced according to which a cultural shock extending over Russia’s entire post-Soviet history is found at the heart of corruption behavior. The cultural shock was provoked by two consecutive drops in the social status of university teachers. Corruption-type behavioral responses are possible in a special statutory and axiological field making it possible to interpret illegal profit-making activity as an adequate economic practice.


Dmitry Serov. “I Took No Bribes and Only Received Tokens of Goodwill.” Bribery in Russia from Czar Alexei Mikhailovich to Czar Peter Alexeyevich

The article focuses on the evolution of the Russian legislation on bribery from the second half of the 17th century through the first quarter of the 18th century, and also on the practice of extorting charges from the population during that period. The author describes the distinction between the concepts of vzyatka (bribe) and posul (an outright monetary bribe to an official) and shows partial social validity of charging posul bribes. Special attention in the article is given to the set of measures to suppress bribery undertaken by Peter the Great and an overview of episodes of criminal prosecution of bribe takers in the 1710s and early 1720s.

Alexander Filippov. The Police State and General Welfare

The article examines certain aspects of the ideology of the police state in France and Germany. The concept of police, which underlies that ideology, presumed good order, general welfare and the government’s care for the subjects, their security, well-being and health. However, as evidenced by the history of German cameralism, which greatly influenced the formation of the idea of the police in Russia, the setup of social life and of the economy in a police state was far from ideal. The administrative distribution of resources did not lead to general welfare and largely promoted corruption.

Boris Sokolov. They Say, There Was Order…

Touches to the Portrait of Corruption in the Stalin Period

The idea that “there was no stealing under Stalin” has become quite commonplace in the Russian public consciousness. The author states that corruption was quite substantial in the 1930s1950s; however, this aspect of the existence of “real socialism” was overshadowed by a more topical subject, the mechanics of the functioning of a totalitarian regime, and has to this day remained little studied by historians. By way of an example, the author cites the history of a brief anti-corruption campaign conducted by Lev Mekhlis, the newly appointed Minister of Government Control of the USSR, in 1946-1948, whose central episode was the case of Bagirov, the head of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. As a result of the campaign, the ministry’s inspectors were deprived of the right to conduct investigations in respect of high-placed members of the nomenklatura.

Giulietto Chiesa. Demand for Clean Hands: An Interview

Journalist, political scientist and politician Giulietto Chiesa, Member of the European Parliament, answers questions put to him by Otechestvenniye Zapiski. In his view, the specific features of Italian corruption are related to the longtime existence of powerful criminal organizations which became influential economic and political actors after World War II, when the Italian establishment used their services in order to prevent the Communists from getting into the government. After the downfall of the socialist system, the Communists ceased to be perceived as a systemicdanger, which made it possible to conduct a “cleanhands” campaign, relying on an independent court, to combat corruption.

Pyotr Mamradze. Thorns of the Revolution of the Roses

Successful market reforms in Georgiain 1994-1998 were not accompanied by adequate institutional development. This resulted in massive corruption, degradation of that post-Soviet country into a failed state and the outbreak of the Revolution of the Roses in November 2003. In the subsequent years, substantial institutional development and strengthening of the power vertical were carried out alongside economic reforms. Massive corruption was rooted out. However, the lack of checks and balances led to the emergence of an authoritarian regime, elite corruption and economic stagnation in that country.


Vladimir Malakhov. Imagining a “People”

The author singles out four main ways of cognitive construction of a “people” in the present-day period: based on common citizenship, based on common origin, based on common values, and based on participation in common welfare state institutions. For all the differences in the optics, all the four approaches share one feature in common, which is that a people is imagined as something complete in itself. From this follows a negative attitude to the phenomenon of immigration, including forgetting the role which migration has played in the history of formation of one people or another. The article concludes with reflections on the possibility of imagining a people transcending national stateborders.

Artemy Pozanenko. Mechanisms of Alienation of the Authorities from the People in Municipal Districts

Analyzing the latest trends in administrative territorial division and the introduction of the institution of city managers in Russia, the author arrives at the conclusion that, at the level of local self-government, the course has been taken toward sousting the people not only from the process of decision-making, that is, self-government as such, but also from the process of forming local self-government bodies.

Alexander Rubtsov. Russian Identity and Challenges of Modernization

The author notes that the wholeness of our identity is broken (which is true not only for Russia, which has undergone a global transformation, but also for the affluent West). We are vehemently debating whose successors we are, who our national symbols are, when we were born as a nation, what we can regard as our victories and what as our defeats, and whether we belong to the West or to the East. In the process, nearly every participant in the debates strives at every level to build a wholesome, noncontradictory identity rooted in “history”—in effect, in myths of various sorts. Yet, when a community wants to achieve something new (and without achieving something new, without modernization, Russia risks leaving the historical scene), it needs a new identity critically treating mythology, reflective, recognizing the value of tolerance and synthesis and rejecting any bans on cultural imports.


Andrei Olkhovatov. Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow by Rail

The article presents some interesting facts from the history of the construction of the railroad between St. Petersburg and Moscow in the mid-19th century. Particular attention is given to reminiscences of its builders. The common people’s response to the emergence of the railroad is also examined.

Dmitry Zhuravlev. Life as a Candle: Fragments of Reminiscences

The reminiscences of physicist Dmitry Ivanovich Zhuravlev, written in the 1960s, focus on his early childhood years, which he spent in Ranenburg and Skopin—uyezd (district) towns in Ryazan Gubernia. The author, who was the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, describes with great thoroughness the details of the everyday life of Russian provincial clergy in the late 19th-early 20th centuries.

Anna Kimerling. “Those Who Spoil Ballot Papers Join the Union of the Discontented”: The Protest Behavior of Voters of the Late Stalin Period

The article tells about people who stood out and voted against the so-called “bloc of Communists and non-Party people” at elections in the late Stalin period. Most of the people viewed the hard hungry life and unbearable living conditions of the early postwar years as a transitory phenomenon; the mythological notions of the USSR as the world’s most progressive country, instilled by propaganda, were more important to them. These people went to the polls en masse and demonstrated their loyalty tothe Soviet government. Only a few of them droppedout of the “magic circle” of Stalinist propaganda. They did not believe the government and did not want to live on promises of a bright future: present- day sorrows and joys were more important to them than good words. There were few of them. In the rare inscriptions they left on ballot papers they demonstrated their understanding of the fact that elections were just a sham and that there was no democracy in the country. People were aware of the consequences such actions might have, and yet this happened. The study has been conducted within theframework of the program of fundamental research at the National Research University “Higher School of Economics.”

Alexei Glushaev. “Lenin Was Sent to Earth by God … Krushchev Is a Son of the World”: Provincial Life of Evangelical Believers in the 1950s-1960s

The article examines the phenomenon of “reticence” of religious minorities in Soviet society in the early 1960s. The genre of microhistory used in this work has made it possible to turn to the lives of individual people, who were members of a group of Evangelical believers in the town of Ochyor, Perm Oblast. The tensions and conflicts of social life in that period were peculiarly interpreted by the believers in terms of religious eschatology. However, their attempts to speak in religious language outside of their community at best met with derision and biased appraisals on the part of the broad public. A study of situations typical of the period, in which Soviet believers found themselves, has helped outline the problems of social communication in the everyday life of small groups of people. The religious minority’s linguistic worldview remained incomprehensible for most of their compatriots. In society there existed a conflict of two different discourses—a religious discourse and an anti- sectarian discourse initiated by the antireligious campaign of 1958-1964.

Alexander Kazankov. Story of a Good Man. Parish Priests in the Western Ural Area in the 1930s

The article reconstructs the life journeys of typical representatives of the last generation of the members of the “spiritual corporation” in the Western Ural Area—rural parish priests.


Vitaly Leibin. Logic of the Nomenklatura: A Review of the Book Vzyatka (Bribe) by Oleg Solovyov, Barnaul, 2011

This review of the book Vzyatka (Bribe) by Oleg Solovyov, an entrepreneur from the Altai, examinespossible approaches to a discussion of bribes andcorruption in Russia based on numerous case studies of informal relations between business and bureaucracy, and also the causes of the government’s 20-year-long failure to combat corruption. The “struggle against corruption” in Russia is characterized as a hypocritical practice serving to disguise the actual mechanisms of authority, and the methods of waging this struggle, which largely boil down to the introduction of additional formal norms of control over bureaucracy, only widen the gap between “paper” reports and real life. This “struggle” itself increases bureaucratization in the country, document circulation and the range of opportunities for extorting bribes.