• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
  • HSE University
  • Research projects
  • Informal economic activities of the police in transformation countries and security problems (cases of Russia, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Latvia)

Informal economic activities of the police in transformation countries and security problems (cases of Russia, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Latvia)

Priority areas of development: sociology
Department: Laboratory for Sociological Analysis
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: research of the relation between involvement of the police officers in the informal economic activities with the estimates of public safety in the base of the cross-country survey in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia.

Methodology: Questionnaire survey, interview, experimental methods, data of the budget statistics of the Ministry of Interior

Empirical base of research: Sociological survey of 1850 police officers in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia; Data of laboratory experiments in Moscow and Almaty (Kazakhstan), 160 of police officers; Data of the budget statistics of the Ministry of Interior, 2004-2014

Results of research:

The analysis of the budget expenditures of the Russian Ministry of Interior (MVD) suggests a very low priority to the police financing in the total budget of the MVD. It was revealed that the share of spending on Internal Troops remained stable throughout the analyzed period, while the share of spending on the MVD has consistently declined in 2005-2008, during 2009-2011 it was slightly grown, and increased dramatically in 2011-2012, coming in 2013-2014 a new stable level.

Apparently, the financing of the Internal Troops is not influenced by a political situation, while the financing of the Ministry of Interior is, because there are no significant changes in the level of the common crime in this period.

We found there was a change of priorities of the political leadership in 2012-2014. This change was shown up in the strengthening of that part of the MVD, which is functionally close to the Internal troops, so called Armed Forces of the MVD (like OMON). The relative importance of the part of MVD responsible for the fighting against common crime was relatively decreased during this period.

The daily activities of the Russian police, including informal and economic activities, is functioning at the intersection of the three institutional logics: the state, the "clan" and the professional. Market institutional logic in this case, as shown in numerous empirical studies of organization, where this logic is leading, is not simply a profit-seeking as the dominant motive of the participants.

The study showed that there is some informal code that defines what can be bought for money, and what is not. Access to the most of these services is limited to certain social networks, and you need to find the entrance through an intermediary.

Professional logic, embedded into a professional community beyond any organizational borders, rather weakly expressed in the current Russia. Police are working under the pressure of the clan logic, along with the state and professional. The real reasons for the existence of informal economic practices in the Russian police should be sought in the clan logic.

Russian police since its inception and to date has directed by the state logic. This logic is still dominant and the market cannot threaten it. The weakest logic of the Russian police is the professional one.

Analyzing the commercialization of post-Soviet police, we have identified its two main types: 1) internal and 2) external commercialization.

Internal commercialization is the development of the informal financial (business) relationships within the law enforcement system between individual police officers and police units on the performance of official functions: opening and closing of the investigation of criminal cases, promotions, etc. External commercialization covers commercial relationships with law enforcement people and businesses.

To study the internal and external commercialization, we constructed two typologies. Analysis showed that most of the surveyed police in 4 countries are not covered by the internal commercialization, and only about 1/5 are included in such a relationship, when they have to pay for many things, to buy supplies for the office, to pay for the promotion, achievement of a good performance reporting and etc.

External commercialization is more widespread; and about half of the respondents are included. Moreover, it includes both perfectly legal and permitted activities (teaching, research and creative activities) and illegal, such as raiding, sale of a classified information etc.

The analysis showed that the internal and external commercialization is closely related to each other. For example, if the respondent belongs to a type of externally non-commercialized, then the probability of being in the type of internally non-commercialized is more than 80%. For highly commercialized such a probability is much lower, but still over 50%.

The level of external commercialization was significantly associated with estimates of the level of crime: there is a statistically significant difference between the type of safety assessments non-commercialized respondents and all others, these estimates for the non-commercialized are significantly higher.

The similar relations between internal commercialization and some estimates of the quality of police work, namely those related to police relations with the public and respect for the law by the police: the lower the level of commercialization, the better is the relationship.

Commercialization varies significantly across countries. The highest level of internal commercialization is in Kazakhstan, where a group of highly-commercialized respondents bigger than the other two, while in Latvia this level is very small and the overwhelming proportion of the respondents belongs to the group of non-commercialized. Bulgaria and Russia are in the middle with a slightly higher level in Russia.

As for the external commercialization, there is far ahead Russia and three other countries are not very much different from each other.

The distinction between countries in the level and nature of commercialization due to the differences in the pace and characteristics of transformation in post-Soviet period, as the reforms in the police and the general political and general economic transformations.

Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The members of the research team were involved into approbation of the new assessment techniques for precinct police taking into account public opinion. This technique was developed by the Academy of the Governance at the Interior Ministry with the participation of the team members of this research project.

Data collected during the project were used in the teaching in the Higher School of Economics and University of Toronto, and for the preparation of Ph.D. dissertations.


Aymaliev I., Kosals L. Applying Australia’s Experience to Russia’s Anti-Corruption Policies in the Police: An Event Structure Analysis of an Australian Corrupt Network // Мир России: Социология, этнология. 2016. Vol. 25. No. 2. P. 98-122.
Belianin A. V., Kosals L. Collusion and Corruption: an Experimental Study of Russian Police / NRU Higher School of Economics. Series WP9 "Исследования по экономике и финансам". 2015.