OIL AND RUSSIAS POLITICAL REGIME AT STAGES IN POST-COMMUNIST DEVELOPMENT:
CONTINUITY OF RENT SEEKING WITHIN THE RAW-MATERIAL PARADIGM

Arbakhan MAGOMEDOV


Arbakhan Magomedov, D.Sc. (Political Science), Professor, Head of the Public Relations Chair, Ulyanovsk State University (Ulyanovsk, Russian Federation)


Introduction

On 28 April, 2010, during a business trip to Astrakhan on the Caspian, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally pushed the button to start the regions first drilling unit on the Korchagin platform. This moved Russia offshore in its sector of the Caspian and confirmed that the Kremlin was as determined as ever to remain within the raw-material paradigm; the nature of the political stimuli in the corridors of power became much clearer.

It should be said that the rent-seeking angle throws the most typical features of Russias political regime into bolder relief.

Here I have examined the rent-seeking phenomenon of Russian power at various stages of post-communist development in the oil sphere, the countrys key resource, and the correlation between the raw-material opportunities and the principles of political organization in Putins Russia.

Preamble: Oil and Russia

In the last fifteen years, the oil and gas factor has been responsible for impressive economic and political changes in Russia. Put in a nutshell, they can be described as follows:

1. Russias economy has become geared toward raw materials, the oil and gas sphere in particular, which has developed into the most successful branch of the post-Soviet economy.

Whereas in 2000, the share of oil and gas in Russias export was 30%, by 2008 it had increased to 54%. Prominent economist Sergey Glaziev has pointed out that in recent years Russias economy has been demonstrating a raw-material bias unacceptable for any developed country: trade in mineral resources is responsible for over three quarters of the federal budget revenues.

In the post-Soviet period, oil in Russia has become the most coveted natural resource with the largest income potential and


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