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.
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
1. Why Are Informal Practices Still Prevalent in Russia?
2. Chernyi Piar: Manipulative Campaigning and the Workings of Russian Democracy
3. Kompromat: The Use of Compromising Information in Informal Politics
4. Krugovaia Poruka: Sustaining the Ties of Joint Responsibility
5. Tenevoi Barter: Shadow Barter, Barter Chains, and Nonmonetary Markets
6. Dvoinaia Bukhgalteriia: Double Accountancy and Financial Scheming
7. Post-Soviet Tolkachi: Alternative Enforcement and the Use of Law
Appendix 1. Pravda versus Istina
Appendix 2. Profile of the Leading National Media Outlets in the 1990s
Appendix 3. "Bound by One Chain" by Nautilus Pompilus
Appendix 4. List of Legal Documents Related to Barter Transactions in the Russian Federation, 1990-1997
Appendix 5. List of Respondents
Appendix 6. List of Questions