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Oligarchs, Political Ties and Nomenklatura Capitalism in the Former Soviet Union: Introducing a New Dataset

06.02.2024 15:30 CET Online Seminar Series of the Economics Dept.

Talk by Ion Marandici (Rutgers University, Camden) as part of the Research Seminar Series of the IOS Economics Department.

This paper examines the relationship between nomenklatura membership, wealth accumulation and political ties across the post-Soviet region from the 1990s up to the mid-2010s. It introduces the Post-Soviet Oligarchs (PSO) dataset, containing the sociodemographic characteristics of the super-rich across the former Soviet republics. While the article finds partial support in favour of the nomenklatura capitalism hypothesis, statistical analysis also points to distinct regional patterns of wealth and political inequality. Thus, the most extensive overlap of wealth and power is observed in the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia and the South Caucasus, where ties to the Soviet regime facilitated the exertion of political influence after 1991, enabling in turn wealth accumulation. By contrast, in democratising contexts, the connections between politicians and super-rich point to a mutually dependent relationship between the economic and political realms, with wealth featuring as a major power resource.

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