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POLITICAL CORRUPTION IN THE USSR (UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS)

NCJ Number
63695
Journal
Western Political Quarterly Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: (JUNE 1977) Pages: 213-224
Author(s)
J M KRAMER
Date Published
1977
Length
12 pages
Annotation
THIS ANALYSIS EXAMINES THE SCOPE, INCENTIVES, AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLITICAL CORRUPTION IN THE SOVIET UNION AS WELL AS EFFORTS TO COMBAT ILLEGAL ACTS.
Abstract
MOST CORRUPTION IN THE SOVIET UNION FALLS WITHIN TWO BROAD CATEGORIES: (1) CORRUPTION FOR BUREAUCRATIC GAIN AND (2) CORRUPTION FOR PRIVATE GAIN. THE MOST COMMON FORMS OF CORRUPTION FOR PRIVATE GAIN--BRIBERY, EMBEZZLEMENT, AND SPECULATION--ARE WIDESPREAD ACCORDING TO SOVIET MEDIA REPORTS. IN 1970, A SOVIET CRIMINOLOGIST REPORTED THAT ECONOMIC CRIMES ACCOUNTED FOR ALMOST ONE-QUARTER OF ALL CRIME IN THE COUNTRY, WITH THESE SCANDALS PARTICULARLY PREVALENT IN THE GEORGIAN REPUBLIC. EXAMPLES OF CORRUPTION IN THE HOUSING SECTOR ILLUSTRATE THE TENDENCY OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO USE ILLEGAL MEANS TO ACQUIRE HOUSING IN A NATION WITH A SERIOUS SHORTAGE. WIDESPREAD SHORTAGES OF CONSUMER GOODS AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS ALSO CONTRIBUTE TO CORRUPTION FOR PRIVATE GAIN, AS WELL AS THE FIERCELY COMPETITIVE ADMISSION STANDARDS AT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION. CORRUPTION FOR BUREAUCRATIC GAIN USUALLY MANIFESTS ITSELF IN SOVIET PRODUCTION UNITS AS THE USE OF ILLEGAL INFLUENCE AND THE FALSE REPORTING OF ENTERPRISE DATA. BECAUSE SOVIET INDUSTRY IS PLAGUED BY THE FREQUENTLY ERRATIC FLOW OF SUPPLIES TO ENTERPRISES, PRODUCTION PERSONNEL OFTEN EMPLOY ILLEGAL MEANS TO FULFILL THE PLAN FOR THEIR ENTERPRISE, SUCH AS 'BLAT' (THE USE OF PERSONAL INFLUENCE TO OBTAIN CERTAIN FAVORS TO WHICH PRODUCTION UNITS ARE NOT LEGALLY ENTITLED). THE PREMIER PRACTITIONER OF BLAT IS THE 'TOLKACH,' THE PLANT'S REPRESENTATIVE WHO OFTEN RESORTS TO ILLEGAL INDUCEMENTS TO OBTAIN NEEDED SUPPLIES. ALTHOUGH THE SOVIETS' ANTICORRUPTION CAMPAIGN REFLECTS THE REGIME'S CONCERN ABOUT THE PREVALENCE OF CORRUPTION, IT HAS BEEN LARGELY UNSUCCESSFUL BECAUSE THE SYSTEM OF BLAT AND THE SERVICES OF THE TOLKACHI APPEAR TO BE FIRMLY IMBEDDED IN SOVIET LIFE. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (WJR)