One of the first Russia-related posts I wrote on SWP was titled “The New Oprichnina“?* This article, written more than 6 years later, argues that the analogy holds in Year XIII of the Age of Putin.
The article discusses the travails that Russian businesses suffer at the hands of the new Oprichniki.
I was talking with a forensic specialist who conducts investigations for companies who suspect violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This regularly takes him to what he calls “seven shot [inoculation] countries,” hardly the world’s garden spots, or the paragons of economic and legal institutions. I asked him if he did work in Russia. “Not if I can possibly avoid it.” I asked why: “It’s not a country. It’s a criminal enterprise. The only places that compare are the worst places in west Africa.” He described the host of official parasites that descend on everyone who attempts to set up a business-and the fearsome intimidation visited on anyone who pushes back. Once upon a time it was mouth breathers in track suits. Now it is “officials”.
So no. Calling it the New Oprichnina is not too far fetched.
*Apologies. The SWP archives got corrupted somewhere along the line, and the Russian/Cyrillic version of the title appears as gibberish. Hopefully that’s not true of the rest of the post 😛