Management of Violence: Effect of Regional Authorities on Corporate Raiding in Russia

Anton Kazun (Higher School of Economics (Russia))

Abstract : Undeveloped institutions of the rule of law in modern Russia have placed violent pressure on businesses via unscrupulous law enforcers. Since 2011, the Russian federal government has made several attempts to address this problem, but all of them have failed. In a situation in which it is not possible to centralize corruption, the second best mechanism could involve "manual control" at the regional level through the replacement of governors. From data on 550 court cases against entrepreneurs taken from the Center of Public Procedures "Business against corruption" (CPP BAC) database for 2011 to 2016, we analyze the effect of political competition and the tenure, ties and replacements of governors on levels of violent corporate raiding in Russian regions. We show that after 2011, regional elites in Russia lost the preexisting opportunity to extract rents from businesses in return for strong voting results for Vladimir Putin and United Russia.

Bureaucratic Discrimination in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes: Experimental Evidence from Russia

Michael Rochlitz (University of Bremen)
Evgeniya Mitrokhina (Higher School of Economics )
Irina Nizovkina (Higher School of Economics )

Abstract : Are investors in electoral authoritarian regimes discriminated against for political activism? In this study, we implement a simple experiment to test whether affiliation with the ruling party or the political opposition affects the probability that potential investors receive advice from investment promotion agencies in Russian regions. Between December 2016 and June 2017, we sent 1504 emails with a short question and a number of randomized treatments to 188 investment promotion agencies in 70 Russian regions. Although investment promotion agencies are nominally depoliticized in Russia, we find that switching the political affiliation of a potential investor from the opposition party “Yabloko” to the government party “United Russia” on average increases the chances to receive a reply by 30%. The effect strongly depends on regional levels of political competition, with higher levels of discrimination in regions that are less politically competitive.

Troll Factories: Manufacturing Specialized Disinformation on Twitter

Patrick L. Warren (Clemson University)
Darren Linvill (Clemson University)

Abstract : We document methods employed by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to influence the political agenda of the United States from September 9, 2009 to June 21, 2018. We qualitatively and quantitatively analyze Twitter accounts with known IRA affiliation to better understand the form and function of Russian efforts. We identified five handle categories: right troll, left troll, news feed, hashtag gamer, and fearmonger. Within each type, accounts were used consistently, but the behavior across types was different, both in terms of “normal” daily behavior and in how they responded to external events. In this sense, the Internet Research Agency’s agenda-building effort was “industrial”-- mass produced from a system of interchangeable parts, where each class of part fulfilled a specialized function.