Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Ruta Aidis, Julia Korosteleva and Tomasz Mickiewicz 1. Introduction to Russia Russia is the world’s largest country, a nuclear superpower with unsurpassed energy resources. It is also a country which finds itself at the crossroads of possible development paths. Market-oriented mechanisms have been introduced but Soviet era laws remain on the books. Corruption has become a way of life and freedom of the press has been gradually eliminated in the early 2000s. Within this backdrop, private entrepreneurship has emerged, albeit in a distorted way. As the heart of the Soviet empire, Russia had tremendous control of enormous amounts of natural resources and human capital. Yet, 20 years ago, in the late 1980s, it was a country where entrepreneurship was marginal, the economy was stagnant and the ruling communist hierarchy had no clear formula for solving the deepening crisis. Unfortunately the reforms characterizing Russia’s attempts at rebuilding statehood after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, first under Mikhail Gorbachev and then Boris Y’eltsin, were inconsistent and did not foster macroeconomic stabilization. However, since 2000, under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, macroeconomic stabilization as well as institutional stability has been achieved. In addition, an unprecedented increase in the price and demand for oil and gas resources has resulted in a rapid growth of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP). Russia now has a large private sector, though not without its limitations. At first glance, ‘de jure’ regulations often seem reasonable, yet it is the selective and arbitrary manner by which they are...
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