Barsukova S.Yu., Denisova-Schmidt E.V. Political “Investments” by Businesses in Russia, or Why Does Business Finance Election Campaigns?. – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No. 3. P. 110-125. (In Russ.).
This paper discusses the influence business has had on election campaigns in Russia. Based on expert interviews with political strategists, representatives of legislative and executive authorities, and entrepreneurs, the study identifies several types of political ‘investments’ made by businesses in modern Russia. They might be either passive (forced) or active (voluntary). Passive ‘political investments’ are treated by businesses as a form of informal taxation or a political tribute. In this case, the business can act as an official sponsor, transferring funds to the election fund account, and finance the shadow part of the election budget. Businesses might pay for bogus services from firms that play an active role as the shadow ‘wallet’ of election campaigns. Moreover, businesses might provide transportation, volunteers, or premises for election events; this can be forced upon them lest their relations with the government be negatively affected. Active ‘political investments’ might take the form of supporting a particular person without any formal or obvious obligations and associations with interested businesses. Businesspeople themselves might even stand as a candidate for elected posts. The first strategy, however, might be risky, as once elected, a candidate might terminate any informal agreements later on; hence, many businesspeople go into politics themselves to establish security, useful contacts, and options for their business development. The study outcomes suggest that it is almost impossible to do business in Russia without participating in these types of ‘investments.’ Moreover, the electoral process is ambivalent for businesses: it might be a heavy burden and a window of opportunity at the same time.