21-22 Rudolph Field Research Fellow

Putin’s Prosecutors: How Law Enforcement Helps Build Authoritarian States

Project Abstract

How does reshuffling within the law enforcement contribute to ensuring compliance of Russia’s regional elites to the federal center? More broadly, how does reorientation of loyalties of personnel in legal institutions aid centralization? This project focuses on Russia and specifically on the strategic management of personnel of the law enforcement on the subnational level. The project argues that agent shuffling can help make the law enforcement agents independent from local elites while increasing their orientation towards the federal center. To test this theory, the project relies on an original biographical dataset tracking personnel changes in Russian Procuracy on the subnational level, in-depth interviews with prosecutors and political elites, as well as detailed case-studies of regions of Russia. Using the dataset, I demonstrate that agent shuffling in the Procuracy was strategic and contributed to centralization in Russia in the early 2000s. Subnational case-studies and interviews help verify the incentives of the actors and establish the mechanisms through which these processes unfolded.



Evgenia Olimpieva is a doctoral candidate in Political Science at the University of Chicago specializing in comparative politics and political methodology. Her research interests revolve around the topics of democratic backsliding and authoritarian institutionalization with a focus on the institutions of law enforcement and the judiciary. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College and an MA from Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) at the University of Chicago.