How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices That Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business

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Cornell University Press, Oct 26, 2006 - Business & Economics - 270 pages

During the Soviet era, blat—the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures—was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V. Ledeneva explores practices in politics, business, media, and the legal sphere in Russia in the 1990s—from the hiring of firms to create negative publicity about one's competitors, to inventing novel schemes of tax evasion and engaging in "alternative" techniques of contract and law enforcement.

Ledeneva discovers ingenuity, wit, and vigor in these activities and argues that they simultaneously support and subvert formal institutions. They enable corporations, the media, politicians, and businessmen to operate in the post-Soviet labyrinth of legal and practical constraints but consistently undermine the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. The "know-how" Ledeneva describes in this book continues to operate today and is crucial to understanding contemporary Russia.

 

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Contents

Manipulative Campaigning and the Workings
28
The Use of Compromising Information
58
Sustaining the Ties of Joint Responsibility
91
Shadow Barter Barter Chains
115
Double Accountancy
142
Alternative Enforcement
164
Conclusion
189
Appendixes Appendix 1 Pravda versus Istina
197
Bound by One Chain by Nautilus Pompilus Appendix 4 List of Legal Documents Related to Barter Transactions in the Russian Federation 19901997
204
List of Respondents
206
List of Questions
208
Notes
213
Glossary
237
Bibliography
241
Index
263
Copyright

in the 1990s
199

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About the author (2006)

Alena V. Ledeneva is a Reader in Russian Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. She is the author of Russia's Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking, and Informal Exchange and the coeditor of Economic Crime in Russia and Bribery and Blat in Russia.

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