Honesty is the Best Policy in Russia

CAMBRIDGE: If opinion polls are right, Russia's people are poised to deliver Russia's government a stinging rebuke in December's Duma elections. Russians are reacting not merely to the strains of economic crisis and social change, but to staggering government corruption. Because the real progress of economic reform was compromised by mass corruption, it is no surprise that public support for it is tenuous.

Price liberalization, stabilization, and privatization were pursued since 1992 with varying degrees of commitment. These policies, even if implemented incoherently, reshaped the economy. Value-subtracting heavy industries shrunk, services expanded to over 50% of GDP, and the private sector produces almost 60% of Russian output.

Although transition was bound to be painful, Russia's epidemic of corruption caused more political damage than the economic side effects of reform. Government tolerance of bribery and racketeering enabled opponents to say the "mafia" was grabbing the gains of economic change. The government, and thus economic reform, will pay for this neglect at the polls.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in


Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.