Politics Under the Influence. Vodka and Public Policy in Putin’s Russia
Bio: Dr Anna L. Bailey completed an MRes in East European Studies at SSEES-UCL in 2009, before continuing to doctoral study at SSEES-UCL, where she was supervised by Professor Alena Ledeneva. She was awarded a PhD in Political Science in 2015. Her doctoral research findings form the basis of her book Politics Under the Influence. Vodka and Public Policy in Putin’s Russia, newly-released by Cornell University Press. Her research explores the realities of federal policy formation in the Russian Federation, including the effects of competition between policy stakeholders, and the interaction between formal institutions and informal networks and their practices. She currently works freelance.
Abstract: “You know just how serious a problem alcoholism has become for our country. Frankly speaking, it has taken on the proportions of a national disaster.” So spoke Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009 as the government launched a major anti-alcohol initiative. Digging beneath the façades of public interest and government hegemony, I challenge the standard narrative of subsequent alcohol policy as top–down implementation imposed in the interests of public health. Rather, policy is the ad hoc result of battles between policy actors with vested interests. These policy outcomes have sometimes been contrary to the government’s stated aims. In particular, a powerful vodka interest located within the state itself has grown in influence since 2009, and has used the ‘anti-alcohol campaign’ as a front to push policies that reduce the competitiveness of its main rival – the multinational beer industry.