In countries like Russia, where legal institutions providing political accountability and protection of property rights are weak, some elite actors accept the use of violence as a tool in political and economic competition. The intensity of this violent exposure may vary depending on the position the province had had in the Soviet administrative hierarchy. The higher the province’s position before 1991, the greater the intensity of business violence one is likely to observe there in post-communist times, because the Soviet collapse left a more gaping power vacuum and lack of working informal rules in regions with limited presence of traditional criminal organizations. Post-Soviet entrepreneurs also often find it worthwhile to run for office or financially back certain candidates in order to secure a privileged status and the ability to interpret the law in their favor. Businessmen-candidates themselves and their financial backers behind the scenes may become exposed to competitive pressures resulting in violence during election years, because their competitors may find it hard to secure their position in power through the existing legal or informal non-violent means. To test whether Soviet legacies and Provincial elections indeed cause spikes in commerce-motivated violence, this project relies on an original dataset of more than 6000 attacks involving business interests in 74 regions of Russia, in 1991e2010. The results show that only legislative elections cause increases in violence while there is no firm evidence that executive polls have a similar effect.

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