Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Unleash the criminals… er, entrepreneurs

The transition from Soviet communism to a more market oriented economy has been difficult in Russia. Some things that were economic crimes are appropriate capitalistic behavior. During the transition, it has been easier to avoid detection. Corruption and cronyism continue to obscure real motives.

But release economic criminals to jump start the economy? Now that's really a novel idea.

Economic stimulus, Russian style: Putin plans to kick start moribund Russian economy by releasing jailed entrepreneurs
More than 110,000 people are serving time for what Russia calls “economic crimes,” out of a population of about 3 million self-employed people and owners of small and medium-size businesses. An additional 2,500 are in jails awaiting trial for this class of crimes that includes fraud but that can also include embezzlement, counterfeiting and tax evasion.

But with the Russian economy languishing, President Vladimir V. Putin has devised a plan for turning things around: offer amnesty to some of the imprisoned business people.

Not you, Khodorkovsky
“This can be understood in the Russian context,” Boris Titov, Putin’s ombudsman for entrepreneurs’ rights, said of what is… a highly unusual stimulus effort.

The amnesty is needed, he said, because the government had “overreacted” to the threat of organized crime and the inequities of privatization and over-prosecuted entrepreneurs during Putin’s first 12 years in power as president and prime minister…

Putin told an audience of chief executives at an economic forum… that releasing some businessmen would help revive the economy with “the values of economic freedom and the work and success of entrepreneurs.”…

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