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Working paper

Routine Corruption in Russia During the Reigns of Catherine II and Alexander I

This articles uses the account records books from a variety of Golitsyn estates in the late eighteenth- early ninetieth century to assess the level of "routine corruption" in Imperial Russia. The data from these books allows us to identify individual cases of unofficial payments made by the estates and by peasant commune to the district-level officials; to delimit key types of payment situations; and to calculate the overall volumes of payments. The resulting numbers are compared to the overall volume of obligations carried by the serfs to the state and toothier landlords. Our conclusion is that while the routine unofficial payments were ubiquitous and accompanied any interaction with the state, by the time of Catherine II's reign their volume l was quite low and did not put significant burden on the population. Rather, officials made fortunes by extracting unofficial payments in more targeted ways. gift-giving