Crime and Post-Communist Transition

KIEV: Throughout the post-communist world, crime emerges as the greatest public concern, after inflation has been brought under control. Many believe that the transition to capitalism brings continuously rising crime, leading to a new criminal society.

It is true that crime rises sharply in connection with the transition to capitalism. In Russia, Poland, and Hungary, which have the most comparable statistics, crime roughly doubled from 1988 to 1993. However, in Russia's case two thirds of the rise in crime came before 1992 during the collapse of communism, and crime has stagnated after 1992. For Poland and Hungary, the first year of capitalism - 1990 - was the year of sharply rising crime, after which crime has fallen slightly.

The explosion of crime originates both from decaying communism and emerging capitalism. Remember that communism was often linked with cleptocracy: everybody stole his or her share. An old joke ran:

- Which is the richest country in the world?