In contrast to
trade unions, associations of
entrepreneurs are an example of entirely new formations in the
structure of Russian civil society. They had not existed before the
The active consolidation of Russia’s business class, both at the
territorial and industry branch levels, began from 1980s.
The most influential organization of this type is the Russian Union of
Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Initially it united only the directors
of major state enterprises. Gradually its influence expanded. In 2000
its ranks were augmented by the representatives the country’s most
powerful financial and industrial groups. This made it the most
important mouthpiece of the interests of the economic establishment.
Alongside the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs,
other associations of big, middle and small business have sprung up.
Some have been set up according to the type of business or branch of
the economy they operate in (e.g., the Association of Russian
Bankers, the Congress of Stock-exchanges, the National Advertising
Association, etc.), and others are regional associations of
entrepreneurs (e.g., the Volga Union of Business Circles, the Moscow
Association of Entrepreneurs, etc.).
economic interests are defended also by such organizations as
associations of pensioners, the disabled, consumers, war veterans,
and deceived shareholders. (In the early
1990s, when the annual inflation rate surged to hundreds of percent,
the banks had few incentives to invest in the real sector of the
economy. Using loopholes in the legislation many banking structures
set up lucrative pyramid schemes attracting the population’s savings
by promising unheard-of annual interest rates of 2,000 and even
3,000 percent. Having collected large sums of money, such banks and
their owners had a tendency to vanish in thin air.) These
organizations are not particularly powerful but their influence is
semi-illegal mafia type structures are also involved in economic
activity. These structures serve not just purely criminal business,
such as drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, etc. They also
take on some of the functions that in stable societies are performed
by state law-enforcement agencies, such as protecting businesses
from criminal racket, “sorting out” defaulters who refuse to pay,
etc. A good example of such structures is powerful security arms of
big private companies. These shadow structures are not properly part
of civil society but are a side effect of its development in the
conditions of social and economic crisis.