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Working paper

Discovering the Miracle of Large Numbers of Investigations in Russia: the Role of Competition Authority Incentives

Many antitrust investigations in Russia continue to present a challenge for the assessment of competition policy and international enforcement ratings. On the one hand, many infringement decisions may be interpreted as an indicator of high enforcement efforts in the context of rigid competition restrictions and the significant related harm to social welfare. On the other hand, many investigations proceed under poor legal and economic standards; therefore, the impact of decisions and remedies on competition is questionable. In fact, large number of investigations may indicate the ineffectiveness of antitrust enforcement. The article explains the possible effects of antitrust enforcement in Russia. Using a unique dataset of the appeals of infringement decisions from 2008-2012, we classify the investigated cases according to their potential impact on competition. A case-level analysis reveals that the majority of cases would never be investigated under an appropriate understanding of the goals of antitrust enforcement, restrictions on competition and basic cost-benefit assessments of agency activity. There are diverse explanations for the distorted structure of enforcement, including the incompleteness and imperfection of sector-specific regulations, rules concerning citizen complaints against the executive authorities and the incentives of competition authorities. Our analysis shows that competition agencies tend to pay more attention to the investigation of cases, which requires less input and, at the same time, results in infringement decisions with a lower probability of being annulled.