New elites and their influence on entrepreneurial activity in Russia
When Russia transitioned to a democratic institutional system in 1991, some of its regions remained under control of old Communist Party elites, while some fell into the hands of political newcomers (“new elites”). Using a new panel dataset spanning 71 of the Russian regions over the years 1994–2006, I show that regions with new-elite governors whose rise to power was influenced by Putin ended up with significantly fewer small and medium enterprises (SMEs) than otherwise similar regions governed by old elites. One interpretation of this result is that Putin, in alliance with the oligarchs, sought to extend his power to the distant resource-abundant regions by promoting relatively inexperienced new elites to govern those regions. As the oligarchs of big business were allowed to monopolize the resources of the new-elite regions, entrepreneurial activity remained at depressed levels. The newcomers’ lack of leadership experience may have also contributed to this result.
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