robertr
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Economic Gulag In Russia

A business owner in Russia has a better chance of ending up in the penal colony system than a burglar does. Now, in an attempt to stimulate the stagnant economy, officials are offering amnesty to some 'economic criminals.' Most of the im­pris­oned are not there for any po­lit­i­cal rea­son. Their in­car­cer­a­tion has to do with the na­ture of Russ­ian cor­rup­tion. Run-of-the-mill bribery schemes, prac­ticed from Chi­na to Mex­i­co, usu­ally in­volve the po­lice, fire in­spec­tors or oth­er reg­u­la­tors ask­ing for pay­ments on the side to al­low a busi­ness to op­er­ate. In these in­stances, the in­ter­ests of the busi­ness own­ers and cor­rupt of­fi­cials are aligned — both ul­ti­mate­ly want the en­ter­prise to suc­ceed. But in Rus­sia, the po­lice ben­e­fit from ar­rests. They profit by so­lic­it­ing a bribe from a ri­val to re­move com­pe­ti­tion, by tak­ing mon­ey from the fam­ily for re­lease, or by sell­ing seized goods. Pro­mo­tion de­pends on an in­for­mal quo­ta of ar­rests. Po­lice of­fi­cers who seize busi­ness­es be­came com­mon enough to have earned the nick­name “were­wolves in epaulets.”
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