Private and Public Property in Russia

During the communist era, all property in Russia was proclaimed to be public. In Soviet lingo, everything belonged to the people. Private property was restricted to a very limited list of necessities, such as one's clothes, furniture, and other very personal necessities. Apartments and houses were leased from the state and were officially under municipal ownership.

All of this changed dramatically after the fall of the Soviet Union, making it possible for people to exercise their rights of ownership unrestrained by the government. A “quick and dirty” and often rigged system of privatization resulted in the concentration of financial and political power in the hands of very few, often referred to in Russian media as (the power of the oligarchs) has been greatly diminished by the Putin government. The Russian government's technique of digging into the oligarchs’ shady past and prosecuting them for illegal activities has been effective in suppressing the oligarchy.

The following is a vocabulary list that will help you discuss private and public property in Russia in Russian.

Table 15-1Vocabulary Dealing with Property

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