Public Reaction on Trade Sanctions in a Democratic Context: Evidence from Moldovan Wine Embargo

Denis Ivanov (HSE University)

Abstract : Economic, and in particular trade sanctions are frequently used to punish non-compliant behavior in international politics. However, not enough is known on how these sanctions affect public opinion and popular preferences. Do people blame their government for the suffering inflicted by sanctions, or they rally ‘round the flag in defiance of foreign attempts to influence actions of their governments? In addition, worsening economic opportunities at home are likely to cause labor migration abroad, thus exposing migrants to foreign institutions, which might affect their positions on domestic political issues. Research of this problem is additionally challenged by the fact that sanctions are typically imposed on autocracies, which might manipulate public opinion. In this paper, I study a case of Russian-imposed trade sanctions on a democratic post-Soviet country. In 2006, Russia banned import of wines from Moldova, which has been widely perceived as an attempt to punish the Moldovan government for its increasingly pro-European course. Russia was the single largest consumer of Moldovan wines, amounting to 75 percent of export in 2005. Combining data from 2004 and 2014 population censuses, 1998-2010 elections results across 848 communes, and the pre-2006 spatial distribution of vineyards across Moldova, I show that, after the embargo, the prevalence of vineyards in a district is associated with the increase in share of residents choosing Romanian rather than Moldovan ethnic identity, a sign of pro-Western political and cultural orientation, and with the decrease in the vote share of the Party of Communists, the major pro-Russian political force in Moldova at the moment. The effect likely operated through the increased labor and educational migration to the Western countries. Therefore, the theories of “rally ‘round the flag” and the diffusion of democracy through international migration seem to explain the reaction of Moldovans to the Russian embargo.

Patriotism and Entrepreneurship: is There a Crimean Consensus Among Russian Enterprises?

Andrei Yakovlev (NRU Higher School of Economics)
Alexander Libman (LMU Munich)

Abstract : Why does private business support the authoritarian rule? Most of the discussion in the literature concentrates upon the economic benefits entrepreneurs can extract from alliance with the nondemocratic states, including preferential access to rents and protection from competition. Yet it is possible that owners and managers of private companies - similarly to the general population - embrace the policies of authoritarian states because they share the main premises of the dominant ideology. "Patriotic" business can back the authoritarian government even if it does not extract direct benefits from it; at the same time, it is also possible that ideological loyalty and access to rents mutually reinforce each other as factors increasing the support of the regime. This paper uses the results of a list experiment conducted as part of a large survey of about 1,800 Russian manufacturing companies carried out in autumn 2018 in about 60 regions to single out the characteristics of this possible group of "ideologically loyal" companies. The list experiment intended to estimate the extent to which individual companies share the belief that the accession of Crimea into the Russian Federation was a major positive factor in the recent Russian development. Overall, we find a consistent pattern of features of the companies embracing the "Crimean consensus" in terms of the industry, location and ownership structure.

Political Cycles in Media Harassment

Nikita Zakharov (Freiburg University)
Günther Schulze (Freiburg University)

Abstract : This paper explores the political economy of media harassment in Russia. We use a unique monthly dataset on the incidents of media harassment in Russian cities between 2004 and 2017 to establish real political cycles driven by local elections. We find that harassment incidents are 54% more likely to occur during the two months before a local election - a period that coincides with the official period of the electoral campaign. The effect differs with respect to the type of local election: more important elections produce bigger cycles.