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No. 54 Abstract

Mark Harrison, "How Mr Nikolaenko Beat the Soviet Mafia."

The paper narrates the story of a pensioner’s fight against a local mafia of Soviet party officials and farm managers in a remote rural locality in the mid-1950s. This struggle eventually came to the attention of officials in Moscow, who vindicated our protagonist at the expense of the local politicians. The story provides a vivid illustration of historical and political issues that arose as a centralized dictatorship that relied on mass mobilization over a vast territory with sometimes poor communications tried to contain local rent seeking without recourse to mass terror.