Modern Russian Political Elite - Some Facets
David Darchiashvili | Academic Essay | 2021
We can look at this topic from many facets. Especially since it has been repeatedly discussed both, within the social sciences and by journalists. And yet, the topic does not lose its urgency: the Russian elite is a complex phenomenon, and its current analysis requires clarifications or thorough interpretations. The present essay is also a hasty attempt to do so.
I feel that what I have heard or read about the political elite of modern Russia needs a conceptual framework. The latter can be built on the theories of elites, the approaches of historical institutionalism, and, on the edge of the various social sciences, the theory of civil-military relations that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. This essay will also begin with an interpretation of the ideas taken from these conceptual blocks. Later I will try to attach this framework or skeleton to the "flesh" - in other words, the examples - of relevant Russian reality.
In elite theories, of which academic origins date back to the late 19th century Italian historians and sociologists, the terms political elite and ruling / political class are used interchangeably. So for example, Mosca spoke of the ruling class, Pareto spoke of the ruling elite, while Michels spoke of the term oligarchy as having a universal meaning. Later, this variety of terms, which had caused some ambiguity in the matter, continued, much to the disapproval of Alan Zuckerman in the 1970s. He perceived these terms more or less synonymously and saw the political class or elite as a union of people who compete for control of authoritative decisions. It is not the purpose of the essay to enter into this argument and to claim to clarify the terms. I can only say that due to several circumstances, the peculiarities of the modern Russian governing model make it more convenient to focus not so much on the class, but on the elite. This term more broadly expresses the narrow, patron-client principle of governance, where "camarilla" or "clique" carry a special meaning, which we encounter in Russia and many post-Soviet systems. On the other hand, the middle circle of administrators of the Russian Federation should not be overlooked either. The only reason for this is not that one of the scholars of the Russian political elite, Oksana Gaman-Golutvina, sees not only the important role of personalist clans in Putin's government, but also that of the bureaucratic apparatus.I think that, when discussing the Russian ruling class/elite, the need to show the profile of its second echelon, which the classicist of elite theory, Gaetano Mosca compared to army officers, is due to the following circumstances:
Mosca believed that the army could lose generals and nothing would happen but the loss of officers was a disaster. For him, the second stratum of the "ruling class" had the same function - the leadership of the whole country, on whose stability, solidarity, intellect, and role depends. He considered the core members of the big parties of the liberal state, which were an impartial judge of the upper echelon of the elite, a good analog of the corps of officers.Russia is neither a liberal state nor does it have strong, stable parties focused on the interests of specific social groups. But its elite also needs a foothold and a source of replenishment. Consequently, where the second echelon/strata are considered, how influential it is, whether its social-institutional framework is state bureaucracy or something else is a pressing subject.
As for the definition of elite and the types of its configuration, for that, I rely on the interpretation of John Higley and his colleagues. I also think the post-Soviet specifications of the Russian researcher Vladimir Gelman are relevant. As early as 1990, Higley, Field, and Burton created an interesting framework for interpreting the old theories of the elites, according to which elites are defined as persons who are able, by virtue of their strategic positions in powerful organizations, to affect national political outcomes regularly and substantially.As for typology, these authors further elaborated Putnam’s assumptions and spoke of three types of elites (Consensually Unified, Ideologically Unified, and Disunified). Later and, to some extent, by observing the post-communist world, Higley personally divides the third category into two and speaks of a) fragmented and b) divided elites.I think both Russian and, by the way, Georgian post-Soviet cases have been fluctuating between these two subcategories for the last 30 years. But we will speak more about this below.
Gelman draws on this latter scheme and, as a post-Soviet scholar, inevitably pays homage to historical institutionalism, that is, to the effects of the Soviet legacy on the present. In his view, the Soviet system gave rise to two main institutions: the governing structure and ethnofederalism, meaning the extraterritorial ministries that controlled the sectors of the economy, and the ethno-territorial divisions of the Communist Party. In the post-Soviet era, this laid the groundwork for a new duality of elites - the dichotomy of financial-industrial groups and local clans. I believe that such a picture is quite schematic, though noteworthy. Also noteworthy is Gelman's argument that a fragmented elite was formed directly in the Russian Federation under Yeltsin, while Putin restored a monolithic elite. Higley and Burton place such a "monolith" in the category of "ideologically united" elites, which suits both totalitarian and ethnocratic or sultanist regimes.However, separate sections of modern Russian history do not rule out the type of Hegelian "divided elite."
Lev Gudkov, director of the Levada Center, believes that Putin's system of government is secondary totalitarianism. He does not need large-scale repression (although Alexei Navalny's poisoning, imprisonment, and also the crackdown on demonstrations in his support also shows a relapse of repressions. D.D.). Though the language of the government continues to appeal to the concepts of solidarity, national security, everything foreign is bad and unacceptable. Russia has been declared a millennial organic entity on which the state cares paternally. In this situation, people understand what can be expected from the state and a similar to Homo-Sovieticus adaptation to the reality takes place.
Totalitarianism demands a dominant ideology, and Lev Gudkov sees its existence in modern Russia as well. It is much more eclectic than communism. At the same time, one of the creators, Vladislav Surkov’s concepts of "sovereign democracy" or "deep people" have quite active opponents with certain media platforms. Consequently, talking about totalitarianism can be controversial - at least until the last wave of repression. One way or another, if we talk about the nature of the political regime of Putin's time and the correlation of the elite type, Henry E. Hale's model of "patron policy" is interesting. He also believes that not much has changed in the post-communist world as the state's repressive apparatus and almost monopolistic control over the distribution of resources has been maintained.This leads to the reemergence of patron-client networks. The most important legacy of "communism" throughout the Eurasian space is patronage, Hale concludes.
When talking about the elite of modern Russia, one of the main questions is from whom and how these patron-client networks are formed, or in what form the circulation of elites in Russia took place after the collapse of the USSR. I think that both, the literature and the variety of materials disseminated in the electronic media, speak only about partial circulation.
Currently, it is not disputed that in the Soviet era, the so-called political class or ruling class was created out of the so called nomenclature. According to several calculations, several thousand men were counted in its upper echelon. In total, about 160,000 people were employed in various leadership positions in the party, the Soviet, and executive institutions. Because the system was patron-client, where sometimes patron is dependent on a trusted client, people with informal influence must also be added to these numbers. They were usually a part of the shadow economy, the benefits of which fed the corrupt part of the nomenclature. This situation formed the basis for the formation of joint networks of the ruling elite and representatives of organized crime. A notable example in this regard is the friendship of the wife of the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR, Vasil Mzhavanadze (1953-1972) with a shadow entrepreneur, Otar Lazishvili, which allowed the latter to influence nomenclature appointments.
Naturally, Georgia, distinguished by its shadow economy and scale of corruption, was, in fact, no exception. Mzhavanadze, like other Republican leaders, had clientelistic ties with Moscow. When the Soviet Union began to disintegrate due to economic, interethnic, and ideological factors, circulation in both echelons of the political class accelerated and signs of transformation also appeared. I can not speak about all the important details here. I will once again quote Lev Gudkov and say that, in the ruling vertical of Yeltsin's Russia, a prominent place was occupied by the adventurous characters serving the old nomenclature. But gradually they were sidelined by officials of the second echelon of the nomenclature, especially Communist and KGB functionaries. Gudkov writes that they were characterized by the corporatism of the old nomenclature elite, but were free from any ideological stereotypes.
Studies of post-communist transformation in Eastern Europe have coined the term the Revolution of the Deputy Heads.It serves to explain that these transformations inevitably led to the replacement of the famous and odious leaders of the old regime, but the middle link of the same ruling class proved to be adaptable. Its representatives easily gave up their ideological coloration and transformed into liberals, democrats, nationalists. Their advantage was information, connections, management experience. Of course, there were also sincere revolutionaries with some anti-communist experience in the renewed elite. But the Russian case shows that these people were mostly still from the communist party nomenclature (Boris Yeltsin himself), or the relatively successful Soviet intelligentsia (Popov, Sobchak, Starovoitova, Gaidar, etc.).
As mentioned above, random people of adventurous nature were inevitably promoted during revolutionary periods. Lev Gudkov cites Boris Berezovsky as an example. I am reminded of the Georgian example of Murman Omanidze, who belonged to neither the nomenclature nor the dissident or national movement, but reached the post of Foreign Minister in the first post-communist government. I am not talking about such notorious figures in the leadership of the new Georgian state as Jaba Ioseliani and Tengiz Kitovani who had criminal pasts. Criminal skills and networks turned out to be a serious springboard in post-Soviet Russia as well. It seems that criminal structures were ready for the fundamental economic-political transformation that began in 1992 even from the late Soviet period. The St. Petersburg representative of investigative journalism, a previous employee of the unit against organized crime, Evgeny Vyshenkov, who has personally been close to the criminal network and has been convicted, provides interesting information in this regard:
He said both the KGB and the military leadership in St. Petersburg were confused during the August 1991 coup. If anyone organized, these were criminal circles, intending to protect the economic liberalization associated with, Perestroika", and even more their growing influence. Authority was lying in the streets. It could be taken by those who were prepared, Vyshenkov concludes.
Russia is too big to talk about the details of the formation and reform of the political elite across the country. Also, the format of the essay does not encompass this task. But to show the general tendencies and to see the true nature of the Kremlin and the leadership of influential businesses, political or law enforcement agencies close to it, the St. Petersburg case is of particular importance: Putin's mentality and social capital were formed here and then continued in the capital.
I find Vyshenkov's memoirs, as a source, particularly relevant in two directions. First, he makes interesting illustrations of the socio-cultural environment in which Putin grew up, the world of criminalized athletes, the City Hall, of KGB friends, and of the growing business-criminal gangs: all of which took place largely in St. Petersburg. However, there are many other sources on these topics - starting with the materials of the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation and ending with the films of Badanin, the editor-in-chief of the TV channel Dozhd. Of course, the information is plentiful in the print media as well. But Vyshenkov emphasizes another circumstance that is interesting for understanding the influence of certain segments of the Russian elite, their sort of legitimacy. I think this circumstance highlighted by Vyshenkov shows the relevance of the elite theory of classics, Mosca and Pareto.
Recently, Western scholars have been explaining post-Soviet politics through rationalist alliances, deal models. That is, the processes are reduced to the pragmatic calculations of paramilitary leaders, other, more institutionalized characters, or politicians who lack any ideological underpinnings, which are followed by alliances and conflicts interchangeably. This model is not devoid of explanatory power. An example of this is the above-mentioned work of Henry E. Hale. Another example of such an approach, which focuses on other post-Soviet countries, is Jesse Driscoll's Warlords and Coalition Politics in the Post-Soviet States. The author believes that the policy outcomes are based on strategic calculations. He does not deny the beliefs and emotions of the participants in this process. But these factors are still considered secondary in comparison with material interest.
Mosca and Pareto, on the other hand, focused on irrationalism in politics, ideas, and derivations of psychotypes — stereotypical thinking. The Pareto division of the elite into "foxes and lions", or Moscas's emphasis on the mobilizing ideologies of society, is an illustration of what has been said. Vyshenkov says that the gangs formed at the turn of the 80s and 90s, which first began to gain economic leverage and then gained political influence, enjoyed a kind of sympathy among ordinary, vulnerable people. According to him, the power of sportsmen groups depended on network connections (in some cases they started making money being restaurant "doormen" and then proceeded to have a share from the manager's income), as well as the "red" (communist d.d.) mentality of the society. If a fighter, a medal-winning athlete for the homeland robs a "cooperator", is there anything wrong with this?! - This is how Vyshenkov conveyed the logic of the then Leningrad pensioners or the working class.
I think this type of view was an important factor both for the formation of the attitudes of a part of the society and for the athletes' self-esteem and attachment. Self-esteem and self-justification have a great influence on people's struggles. Athletes in Georgia did not play such a political-economic role as in Leningrad or other parts of Russia. In the 90s the background here was created more by paramilitary formations. But the logic was the same - they considered the civilian population, especially bureaucrats or start-ups, to be in debt to them.
One more passage from Vyshenkov's narrative, which, at the microhistorical level, illustrates the adequacy of the large-scale social theory. Samuel Huntington's theory of civil-military relations, among other provisions, preaches the dangers of involving officers in economic activity. Business and military affairs are incompatible, as it threatens professionalism and subordination in the latter. This can also easily be said about police officers, special services officers, in short, uniformed people. Vyshenkov recounts how he, the Captain of the Leningrad Criminal Investigation, was summoned by a senior colonel and told him that he was to attack members of the Leningrad illegal business/racketeer. Vyshenkov, who had a long-standing relationship with the latter, wondered if it was an official operation. "Not really," he replied. "Then it will not work," replied the captain to the colonel, if you plan to reach your goal through, “ponjat’sia" rather than law. The narrative shows how the relationship with business and crime (which was difficult to distinguish in Leningrad at the time) was shaking for the state law enforcement system, its hierarchy, how the privatization of law enforcement institutions took place.
The topic of de facto privatization of law enforcement institutions in modern Russia is also found in academic texts. Mikhail Maslovsky quotes Lev Gudkov as saying that Putinism is a system of decentralized use of institutional resources for violence. Structures of violence are appropriated by those in power for personal or group interests.Returning to our topic, this situation indicates not only the authoritarian and criminal nature of the regime but also the social-institutional framework or structure of the ruling elite itself. If the regime is authoritarian and criminal, it is natural that a special place in its ruling class is occupied by law-breakers and abusers, armed individuals, or groups. I think the picture outlined in various sources allows for such a conclusion.
In the immediate aftermath after the collapse of the USSR, civil, democratic individuals also emerged in powerful national-level organizations whose leadership equated to membership of a political elite. The foremost, in this respect, was probably President Yeltsin himself, although he also embodied the living legacy of the Soviet nomenclature. There were sincere human rights defenders in the Duma, the influence of several liberal public figures, journalists, was unseen. The political process was marked by ideological confrontations between liberal, communist, and nationalist ideologues. Their total "elitism" is questionable, but many of them enjoyed either parliamentary status or the support of major media outlets, were recognizable, and influenced public opinion.
There were autonomous dynamics in a number of regions, which was reflected in Yeltsin's famous sentence: Берите столько суверенитета, сколько сможете проглотить (take as much of a sovereignty as you can swallow). This was the time when the Autonomous Republics and Districts of the Russian Federation were holding a "parade of sovereignty". Old clans, new democratic figures, or populist / Ethno-nationalist generals (such as Chechen Jokhar Dudayev, Ingush Ruslan Aushev) emerged in this dynamic. They, together with local business-criminal gangs,formed regional elites that, if we borrow the terminology of Higley, Gelman, Pikulski, were disunified or, at least, fragmented.
As mentioned, Gelman called the Russian political class during Yeltsin's time "fragmented." According to Higley and Pikulski, this term is appropriate for an unconsolidated democracy or a regime of short-lived authoritarianism. However, based on the initial version of his theory, Higley and his colleagues would probably have talked about the abundance of signs of adisunified elite in the Yeltsin era. This type implies the disagreement of the elite factions regarding the rules of the game, on the legitimacy of the institutions. In the conditions of a divided elite, politics is perceived as war. This was the situation in the autumn of 1993 when the fire was opened from tanks to the "White House", the residence of the parliament in opposition with President Yeltsin. The situation then seemed to calm down, but the attacks on his communist opponent by the pro-Yeltsin media during the 1996 parliamentary elections also had the character of war, but an information war.
In such a division of the elite, which was especially acute in the capital, the ideological factor played an important role. The remnants of communism opposed market liberalism. What would have happened if the Communists had won can only be speculated about. But the fact that market liberalism was found to be amalgamated with crime and authoritarianism, showed through experience. The Leningrad / St. Petersburg case provides ample examples to illustrate this point, although nationwide decisions and reshuffles of power took place in Moscow.
There was a lot of eclecticism in the ruling elite, that is, in the part surrounding Yeltsin, which was gaining more and more characteristics of the Mosca "clique". This situation promoted freedom of speech and did not hinder market reforms. But, at the same time, there was war in Chechnya, banditry throughout the country, and corruption in the economy. Media tycoons and oligarchs (e.g. Berezovsky and Gusinsky) fought each other after the communist threat was removed. In their business empires, as private security organizers, the old KGB officers roamed, though there wasn't a lack of them in the corridors of government and parliament. Separately noteworthy are the corps of former Soviet industry captains (e.g., Viktor Chernomyrdin, Oleg Soskovets) and the Democratic Reformers, of whom Anatoly Chubais was probably the longest-serving member of the clique.
Chubais was established as a scholar-reformer in Leningrad. Before joining the government in Moscow, he had relations with the local government and the first Democrat mayor, Anatoly Sobchak. Around the same time, in 1991, Vladimir Putin appeared next to Sobchak, and "Night St. Petersburg" was gradually taken over by the people with whom Putin had been in contact since his youth - the Brotherhood of Athletes.
The sports mafia,was officially persecuted by the militia in the 90s. Unofficially, their gangs were slowly flooding the business world of the entire city. Legends are told about Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin today. One thing is clear: this former bartender, who created the organized crime group of Tambovites, in which sportsmen were the center players, was nicknamed the Night Governor of St. Petersburg. Among many others, he controlled the fuel supply to St. Petersburg in the late 1990s. Back in 2006, literally with a drumbeat, deputies, and stars of all kinds celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kumarin. Under the command of coumarin was the so-called "Misha Khakhol", a convicted boxer and trainer, later a racketeer, and before his arrest a member of parliament from the Liberal Democratic Party.
Kumarin lost his hand in a mafia brawl and eventually ended up in jail on serious charges. Many athletes, who considered themselves as Praetorians in the 90s, being afraid of only each-other, have been killed. As Vyshenkov says, in an empire, only the emperor should rule.Putin managed to get rid of overly disobedient athletes, as well as other players from other elite social clusters. Thus, for example, the neutralization of Kumarin was preceded by the neutralization of Berezovsky and then Khodorkovsky. Compared to the business and political ambitions of these two, the ambitions of Kumarin were still more modest-regional.
Athletes' "societies" did not take charge of only St. Petersburg. Traces of their groups are everywhere. Otar Kvantrishvili tried to make a political career in Moscow through them. For some time they were not and could not be harassed by the special services, the democrat reformers were either afraid of them or sacrificed their lives to fight them (the murder of one of the democratic leaders, Galina Starovoitova, was blamed on Kumarin. It is not clear whether the accusation was true but it is clear that these two groups of the Russian leadership segment would not be able to harmoniously coexist). The athletes were also not spared by professional criminals of an older tradition, the so-called thieves in law. These are all additional signs not only of the significant criminalization of the Russian elite but also of its fragmentation or disunification in the 1990s. But, as Gelman writes, Putin turned the political class into a monolith. At first glance, "Monolith" was associated with the new ruling party, United Russia ("Edinaya Rossiya").
In reality, the 2000s do not allow us to talk about any fundamental transformation of the elite. The bandits, their friend law enforcement officers and businessmen, have not been replaced by any bureaucratic party structure. This structure was more of a window-dressing and, at the same time, a tool for coordinating/disciplining elite segments. The racketeering or business raiding of the 90s has not been abolished, as the international resonance "Magnitsky case" shows. Simply because of Putin's principle, law enforcement came to the leading line again, and the part of the athletes that survived had to behave like respectable businessmen.
Among people, who had an athletic background and came from St. Petersburg, the ones who turned out to be friends from Putin's youth turned out to be especially lucky.
By and large, Putin was as much a member of the KGB, as a part of the Leningrad / St. Petersburg sports fraternities. The only difference was that instead of the field of sports and street life he chose the path of law school and special services. But when he began to form his own, presidential clique, many Leningraders found themselves in or near it - some from the sports fraternity (such as Arkady Rothenberg, who was particularly fascinated by their mentor-trainer with a criminal past, Leonid Usviatsov, who died in 1994. Rotenberg's had his trainer's tomb inscribed, “мафиа бессмертна” (mafia is immortal. Under Putin's presidency, Rothenberg acquires the bank, obtains construction contracts, and is represented in several other businesses. Petrov, a former partner of Kumarin, is now a business partner of Shestakov, a close associate of Putin and a Leningrad trainer and member of parliament).
The second group of people close to Putin in Leningrad is the cooperative "Ozero"(Озеро), which, while his working in the City Hall, was created in the isthmus of Karelia. Yuri Kovalchuk, later co-owner of Bank Rossiya and owner of the National Media Group, worked with Putin on this project. Finally, we must mention those with a KGB past, which stood by Putin in the City Hall. One of the most distinguished today is Rosneft magnate Sechin and “Rosguard” Commander Zolotov. Gazprom chief Miller and President Medvedev are also from Putin's past at the city hall. . .
Putin's work at the St. Petersburg City Hall, his possible connections to the activities of Kumarin-like criminal businessmen, go beyond the subject matter of this essay. Answering such questions requires the methodology of investigative journalism, and, such investigations are numerous. In conclusion, I would like to say that, if there was a very eclectic composition in the Kremlin's Camerilla under Yeltsin, which was also backed by various social clusters, Putin's "monolith" was mainly headed by his personal clientele. It includes old athletes, representatives of the special services, and the so-called systemic liberals, whose influence is declining amid rising repression and in favor of law enforcement. Another difference from the Yeltsin period is that Putin has almost completely marginalized the democratic wing of different political tastes, ideologically opposed, but also within the political class. In Putin's Russia, the opposition is no longer in the elite. This was not the case in Yeltsin's time. However, the rise of Alexei Navalny's authority and the capabilities of 21st-century networking technology could change the situation. Not only Navalny, but even a YouTube channel owner Dudz has the chance to uninvitedly play a part in the political class if there is a will. However, the risks to both Navalny and any opponent are increasing, because in the "patronal" system they do not welcome strangers.
And one more thing: politics and business are related in democracies, but are still different areas. Consequently, a political class or elite may include the head of a ministry, party, or head of a think tank, who enjoys riding a bike as transport but not a multimillionaire who owns yachts. This is not the case in Russia, where the logic of politics is brotherhood. Consequently, talking about political and economic elites separately makes no sense. Moreover, we can not even talk about the criminal elite separately.
If there is one metaphor that can be applied to today's Russian elite, it is the term from the popular TV series Bandit Petersburg: ,,Thugged Businessmen” (Прибандиченные Бизнесмены).
 Zukerman, A. (1977) “The Concept “Political Elite”: Lessons from Mosca and Pareto.“ The Journal of Politics, 39 (2): p. 342
 Gaman-Golutvina thinks that if, for example, clan-feudal tendencies prevail in the Georgian elite, and a bureaucratic in Belarus, there is a mixed model in Russia. (Gaman-Golutvina, O. (2007), “Political Elites in the Commonwealth of Independent States: Recruitment and Rotation Tendencies.” Comparative Sociology, 6: pp. 136–157, Brill,
 Mosca, G. (1939) The Ruling Class. NY and London: McGraw-hul Book Company, Inc., pp. 403-404
 Ibid p. 413
 Field, L. G., Higley, J. and Burton, G. M. (1990) “A New Elite Framework for Political Sociology.” Revue Europeenne Des Sciences Sociales, T 28, # 88: p. 152, http:// jstor.org/stable/40372960
 Higley, J. and Pikulski, J. (1999) “Elite Power Games and Democratic Consolidation in Centran and Eastern Europe.” Reprint, Historical Social Research, 37, N1 (139): pp. 294-296 Published: Leibnniz Institute for the Social Research
 Gel’man, V. (2008) “Out of Flying Pan, into Fire? Post-Soviet Regime Changes in Comparative Perspective.” International Political Review, 29(2): pp. 163-164
 Higley, J. and Michael Burton, M. (2006) Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, p. 18
 Gudkov, L. (2018) “Secondary, or recurrent totalitarianism.” Public Opinion Bulletin 3-4 (127) July-December, pp. 255-257
 Henry E. H. (2015) Patronal Politics, Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 35
 Ibid p. 59
TVC, 2015, Soviet mafia. Father of Georgian corruption [ТВЦ, 2015 Советские мафии. Отец грузинской коррупции], (Accessed 29 January 2021)
 Gudkov, L. (2018) “Secondary, or recurrent totalitarianism.” Public Opinion Bulletin 3-4 (127) July-December, p. 254
 Szelenyi S., Szelenyi I., and Kovakh I., (1995) “The making of the Hungarian post-communist elite: Circulation in politics, reproduction in the economy.” Theory and Society 24: p. 706
 Евгений Вышенков о детстве, учебе, бандитизме и августе 1991 в Ленинграде #memorandum часть 1, Oct 30, 2020 (Accessed 29 January 2021)
 Driscoll, J. (2015) Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States. New York: Cambridge University Press
 Евгений Вышенков о детстве, учебе, бандитизме и августе 1991 в Ленинграде #memorandum часть 1, Oct 30, 2020 (Accessed 29 January 2021)
 The term “ponjat’sia” stands for criminal morale and code of conduct. Евгений Вышенков о РУБОП в 90-е, тюрьме, неонацистах и современном Петербурге #memorandum часть 2, 20.11.2020 (Accessed 30 January 2021)
 Maslovskii, M. (2015) “The Soviet Model of Modernity and Russia’s Post-communist Political Transformation.” Historicka Sociologie2: 52 <
 He first said this in Kazan in August 1990, and then confirmed it in Ufa. At this time, in the wake of efforts to reform the Union system, which was also flavored by the famous Gorbachev-Yeltsin confrontation, autonomous republics and regions (oblast) adopted declarations of sovereignty. Yeltsin Center, 15.08.2015 (Accessed 30 January 2021)
 For example, the biography of Oleg Teziev, a resident of North Ossetia, is interesting: simultaneously he was the Prime Minister of the South Ossetian separatist enclave of Georgia, partner of the Russian military in the illegal arms trade, organizer of Ossetian business in Moscow. Teziev sometimes opposed and sometimes approached undoubtedly criminal gangs of Ossetian origin. See. Alexei Basayev, Has the "work of Tezieva" become a process of corruption, Criminal Russia, November 6, 2007, Source: Gazeta "Russia", № 19 (181), May 18-24, 1994. Alexei Basayev. from 24.05. 1994 (Accessed 9.02.2021)
 Of course, in these groups, whose core consisted of wrestlers and boxers with certain achievements or medals, some did not attend any particular sports school. Some of them even reached considerable heights (e.g. former naval officer, then bartender, and antiquarian Ilya Traber). But as a social phenomenon, I think a significant portion of the post-Soviet mafia might be named so because sports schools were one of the foundations for building networks of mafia gangs.
 Evgeny Vyshenkov, 08/04/2019, Where Sechin and Kumarin were supposed to sign under PTK. Failed, Fontanka.ru, (Accessed 7 February 2021)
 As Roman Badanin, the editor-in-chief at TV Dozhd and author of the documentaries about Putin thinks, the youth of the streets of Leningrad and the KGB officers were not too far apart, 15.12.2017 (Accessed 7 February 2021)
 The series "Petersburg" («Piterskiye») second episode, December 14, 2017, Roman Badanin, Maria Zholobova, Daria Zhuk, Nikolay Kovalkov, (Accessed 7 February 2021)