Cooperatives in Russia
International Handbook of Cooperative Law, Cracogna, Fici & Henry eds., Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2013
19 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2013 Last revised: 27 Dec 2016
Date Written: August 11, 2013
Although the Russian cooperative movement today is represented by a substantial number of cooperatives of various types, it is difficult to determine their precise number, since they are not embraced by the state system of statistical survey. The Federal Statistic Agency (Rosstat) neither conducts surveys on the dynamics of cooperative development, nor distinguishes them from the total number of enterprises of a relevant sector.
However, the International Labor Organization reckons that: a) About 12,000 agricultural cooperatives are spread over 60 regions of the Russian Federation; in addition, there are over 1,000 credit cooperatives; over 15,000 producer cooperatives; consumer cooperatives are over 7,000 hair dressing salons, about 11,000 clothes and footwear repair shops, about 2,000 enterprises engaged in housing construction and renovation, about 4,000 household appliances repair shops, and over 1,000 of pharmacies; b) The number of members of various types of cooperatives is about 60 million; with the assumption that the population of Russia is about 150 million, the degree of involvement can be determined to be about 40% or almost one third of the country.
Such an extraordinary involvement of citizens is most probably a direct consequence of both the dissolution of the soviet economic system, not encouraging medium and large-scale private business initiatives, and of the dependency from the cultural heritage of the tsarist times. Not surprisingly, memories of the ancient tsarist and soviet models still influence modern cooperative law in Russia: on the one hand, the commune (obščina); on the other, the “kolkhoz”. Both were intended to be organizational models for agriculture, where indeed cooperatives first emerged.
Considering the above, the paper gives an insight of the history of cooperatives in Russian, particularly focusing on the the transitions from tsarist to the soviet era, and from the soviet times to the perestroika. A second part of the paper provides the reader with information on modern Russian cooperative law.
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