Cover Osteuropa 5-6/2015

In Osteuropa 5-6/2015

Trade versus the State
The Informal Economy in Russia’s Far East

Tobias Holzlehner

Deutsche Fassung


In Russia’s Far East, a thriving shadow retail trade over the Russian-Chinese border has emerged. Poachers, smugglers, small businessmen, and intermediaries operate in networks. Some trade in illegal products such as protected animals and plants. As private dealers or travelers, others bring across the border legal products such as food or consumer goods. Alone in the Primorye region, around 10,000 private border traders were temporarily employed as “shuttles” (chelnoki). The informal border trade and smuggling are in part a response to dysfunctional government regulations and institutional practices. As a result, an economic space has emerged both beyond the reach of the state and in opposition to it.

(Osteuropa 5-6/2015, pp. 137–147)