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Working paper

Domestic and external factors in the development of Russia’s economic think tanks sector

Freinkman L., Yakovlev A. A., Zolotov A. V.
This paper considers the development and current state of Russia’s think tank sector. As in Eastern Europe, international technical assistance played an important in development of Russian think tanks in 1990s. However unlike Eastern Europe, especially new EU members, demand for economic policy input in Russia at the national level has remained strong. As a result, members of Russian expert community today commonly serve in government posts and act as first movers in the consensusbuilding process for government policy. Russia’s leading economic think tanks have organized professionally to secure a high standard of independent economic analytics and ethical behavior. In this sense, the sector seems more mature than local think tanks in Eastern Europe. While the sector today faces serious challenges from legislative changes that have largely limited the client base to government entities, the economic analysis provided by think tanks remains critical to policy-setting. The findings are based on two surveys of Russia’s leading think tanks. The surveys, conducted in 2012–2013 and 2015, are augmented with in-depth interviews with representatives of Russia’s top think tanks.