Informal PractIces of BIg BusIness In the PostsovIet PerIod: from olIgarchs to “KIngs of state orders”
Informal practices in relations between the government and big business in Russia have been transformed during the post-Soviet period. Changes did not only occur at the turn of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin’s epochs. The long period of Putin’s rule was also not static. The article shows the transformation of informal relations between the government and big business upon changing the financial and administrative capabilities of the state. It compares the situation of the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
The oligarchic capitalism of the 1990s arose during drastic reforms when a weak state was forced to seek the help of financial capital in exchange for the assignment of political rights. The economy development in the 2000s, the budget surplus, and Vladimir Putin’s politics have changed the situation. During the so-called “fat” 2000s, “milking” the country’s budget and “arranging payoffs” for fulfilling government contracts were the main forms of informal cooperation between the government and business. However, the economic difficulties of the 2010s sharply aggravated competition for access to budget resources. Compromising and repression became the most effective tools of such a struggle. The “kings of government Contracts” began to play a key role in public-private partnership because they were assigned to implement projects, which were both profitable and unprofitable for business but always important for the government. Participation in such projects was a marker of loyalty to the President’s administration and a compulsory condition for any successful business activities to go on. Under the slogan of legalizing the economy and strengthening the fight against corruption, the administration created some new informal ways of managing and controlling big business.