Russia’s crony capitalism: from market economy to kleptocracy?


Russia’s main problem isn’t populism, but elitism in two basic forms, says analyst Emil Pain, the paternalist one in the state based on tradition and the “snobbish” version held many among the liberal intelligentsia [HT: Paul Goble].

The Russian state operates on the base of “paternalistic elitism,” a view that those in power should make the decisions and that those in the population should accept them, says the specialist on ethnic conflicts at the Higher School of Economics.  What is striking, Pain says, is that many liberals also are deeply suspicious of the ability of the people to rule. They want only to change the rulers, not the system of elite rule.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky (Open Russia) and Mark Galeotti (European University Institute, author of The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia) exchanged views [above] on the crime and corruption that have become hallmarks of Russia’s transformation symbolically set in train by the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, in a discussion moderated by British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) President Judith Pallot (University of Oxford / University of Helsinki).

Khodorkovsky “categorically disagrees” with Galleotti’s argument that the Russian state is not a criminal regime. “Criminality is defined by a certain model of behavior, such as how conflict is resolved not by the number of tattoos,” he told a recent forum at The American Interest. “A win-win outcome is totally alien to Putin.”

Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy.”

Panelists: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Karen Greenaway, former supervisory special agent,  FBI International Corruption Unit; Susan Glasser, staff writer, The New Yorker; Anders Aslund, senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center; Michael Carpenter, senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center

4 p.m.  May 7, 2019

Venue: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

RSVP: Travis Horne, 202-778-4993,

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