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Regular version of the site

Article

The Pavlenko Construction Enterprise. Large-scale Private Entrepreneurialism in Stalin’s USSR

Europe-Asia Studies. 2019. Vol. 71. No. 6. P. 892-906.

This essay reviews the characteristic features of the Soviet ‘shadow economy’ by examining the activities of a
major construction enterprise headed by N. M. Pavlenko from 1948 to 1952. This was the largest currently
known private illegal enterprise of the Stalinist period. Pavlenko’s organisation built dozens of roads and
railways under contract to state entities. Based on newly accessible archival documents, the methods of
Pavlenko’s organisational activity and the reasons for its lengthy existence are considered. The author
argues that, regardless of its extraordinary scale, Pavlenko’s enterprise was in fact typical of the Stalinist
‘shadow economy’, and that future archival research would probably reveal that this shadow economy was
far more significant than has been understood to date.