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State-led coercive takeovers in Putin’s Russia: explaining the underlying motives and ownership outcomes

Yorke, Andrew (2014) State-led coercive takeovers in Putin’s Russia: explaining the underlying motives and ownership outcomes. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Since Vladimir Putin first became Russia’s President in 2000, the state has played an increasingly active and interventionist role in the economy, including through its involvement in a large number of coercive takeovers of privately-owned businesses. The best known case is the Yukos affair, but there have been many other, less prominent takeovers. These have largely been explained as predatory acts by state officials seeking to enrich themselves or increase their power. This has contributed to the perception that Putin’s Russia is a kleptocracy, with the state given free rein to engage in economically-destructive attacks on property rights. This thesis studies a number of state-led coercive takeovers in Putin’s Russia, including the Yukos affair, and argues that they cannot be explained as predatory acts initiated by rent-seeking state officials. Instead, they were the work of state officials attempting to pursue economic development while countering perceived threats to state sovereignty. The Yukos affair resulted in the company’s de facto nationalisation and heralded a broader trend of expanding state ownership in the economy. But two other coercive takeovers studied here instead resulted in the companies being transferred to new private owners. In other cases where nationalisation was the clear goal, the state-owned companies who emerged as buyers chose indirect forms of ownership over their new assets. The varying ownership outcomes are found to have been determined by institutional factors which constrained the behaviour of the state, contributing to its preference for takeovers that were negotiated rather than entirely coercive, and turning each case into a bargaining game between state and targeted business owner. Thus Russia is some way from kleptocracy, not only because of the developmental aspirations of its political leadership, but also thanks to partial progress towards institutional checks on arbitrary state coercion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Andrew Yorke
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Woodruff, David

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