David R. Henderson  

Is Russia a "Thug State?"

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Although the KGB was abolished in 1991 after its chairman, Vladimir Kryuchhov, participated in the failed coup d'etat against USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, the KGB mentality still thrives. Russian is run by former KGB officials and Kremlin-friendly oligarchs. They control industry, commerce, media, and banking, conduct covert operations at home and abroad, and operate their own prisons. They order telephone justice (tell judges their verdicts) and gather compromising material to intimidate opponents. If they do not directly order assassinations, they make sure that those who do are not caught. Outsiders do not know how the KGB state works. Insiders may be confused as well.
This is from Paul Gregory, "Russia's Economy: Putin and the KGB State," this month's Econlib Feature Article, released earlier today. I highly recommend it.


COMMENTS (3 to date)
Curt Doolittle writes:

The Russian people seem to overwhelmingly support their government.

Russians are a weak minority trying to protect a vast territory from Sinification in the west, islamification from the south, and what they see (possibly correctly) as imperialism from the west. Their experiment with democracy was horrific, and they quite like the iron hand of their leaders. If Putin could manage to create the opportunity, he could be made Tzar. Consumer Democracy is just another form of creeping communism - and the Russians are done with that ideology as well.

I'm not agreeing with them. I'm just explaining the common person's philosophy about their government.

Alex J. writes:

"Consumer Democracy is just another form of creeping communism"

?

Alexander writes:

"Their experiment with democracy was horrific, and they quite like the iron hand of their leaders."

This statement contains some truth. I would agree that Russians, on average, are not worried about their institutions appearing 'democratic.'

"If Putin could manage to create the opportunity, he could be made Tzar."

This statement, however, is the de facto perception in the west, but I do not believe love of Putin runs as deep as Americans/Europeans tend to believe. Russians want a strong leader who will lead them to economic prosperity (or at least appear to do so) and not take any BS from foreign powers. This statement could be said of most nations right now, especially the US.

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