Vladimir Putin's Russia is looking more and more like the sclerotic and stagnant Soviet Union of the Leonid Brezhnev era. But in one area, Putin's regime remains an innovator: corruption. Indeed, in this, the 18th year of Putin's rule, a new form of crony capitalism has been taking hold.
Over the last decade, Putin has overseen a major re-nationalization of the Russian economy. The state sector expanded from 35 percent of GDP in 2005 to 70 percent in 2015. It would seem that, in Lenin's words, the state had regained control of the "commanding heights" of the economy.
And yet it would also seem that state-owned firms like the energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft operate like modern businesses. After all, they have corporate governance rules and policies, supervisory and management boards, and annual shareholders meetings. They undergo independent international audits, publish annual reports and maintain boards with independent directors.