Supply, Demand, Connections, Legitimacy: Understanding the Waxing and Waning of the Protection Industry in Russia

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The literature on organized crime, while increasingly rich, has yet to create a paradigm to predict and explain the waxing and waning of the private protection industry. In the work that follows, I create a general model and identify factors that help predict and explain fluctuations of protection services within organized crime groups. I derive the four points below from analysis of the Russian case, emphasizing the years after the fall of communism and around and after the rise of Putin. I argue that if the following premises are true in a given country, they predict growth, or at least the existence, of illicit private protection:

1. Within a given state, there is demand for private protection (resulting from neglect or inability of the state to provide protection)

2. Organized crime groups have the ability to provide private protection (i.e. supply to match demand)

3. Within the given state, there is continuity of regime or of people in power (which allows the racket to continue operating smoothly)

4. The state will maintain internal legitimacy even with the existence of private protection rackets OR the state has no internal legitimacy and doesn't have the power to combat groups (weak or failed state)

In the first chapter, I introduce the puzzle of organized crime and the private protection industry. My second chapter highlights scholarly approaches to organized crime and explains the approach and definition I employ in my work. In the third chapter, I explore the history of organized crime in a broad sense throughout the Imperial and the Soviet periods. The fourth chapter focuses on the emergence of the protection industry in the early and mid-1990s, and the fifth chapter is a study of the late 1990s and the disappearance of the private protection industry. The sixth chapter concludes and offers possible topics for further research.





Mohrig, Katherine (2013). Supply, Demand, Connections, Legitimacy: Understanding the Waxing and Waning of the Protection Industry in Russia. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


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