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Alena Ledeneva

Alena Ledeneva (PhD, Sociology, Cambridge) is Professor at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College, London, United Kingdom. She is an internationally renowned expert on sociological and anthropological analysis of informality and informal governance in Russia and beyond, and published a number of scholarly books and articles on the subject.

Russia’s Practical Norms and Informal Governance: Modernisation v. Corruption

Corruption in Russia is of endemic nature. It can be traced back to traditional practices that also form a foundation of the present-day system of governance, often referred to as ‘sistema’. The logic of ‘feeding,’ ‘joint responsibility’ and ‘Potemkin villages’ is reproduced in the reliance of Putin’s network-based governance system on such instruments as undeclared incentives, informal affiliations, hidden agendas and warning signals. Putin’s sistema gives dynamism to government’s economic and political projects by engaging personalized influence, but at the same time its informal and non-transparent nature creates a fertile ground for corruption and makes its mitigation difficult. I argue that corruption in Russia could not be effectively managed unless its leaders reflect upon the system of informal governance they operate in and articulate its consequences, of which endemic corruption is one of the most devastating for the country. 

Selected publications