The paper tells the story of a pensioner’s fight against a local mafia of Soviet party and government officials and farm managers in a remote rural locality in the 1950s. To Moscow, he was a whistleblower. To the leaders of his local community, he was a troublemaker. Working together, the local people went to extraordinary lengths to suppress his criticisms. Eventually, Moscow intervened to vindicate him. The story illustrates vividly the political and economic issues that arose when a centralized dictatorship that relied on mass mobilization over a vast territory with sometimes poor communications tried to contain local rent seeking while moving away from mass terror as its chief instrument of control
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