Authoritarian state capitalism: Spatial planning and the megaproject in Russia

EEGA’s Research Area Coordinator Nadir Kinossian together with K. Morgan published the article “Authoritarian state capitalism: Spatial planning and the megaproject in Russia“. It was published within the journal Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 0(0). For the online version and the full text as PDF, please follow the link.


The phenomenon of state capitalism is attracting growing attention in economic geography and political economy. We contribute to the debate by exploring the authoritarian state capitalism variant whereby the state moves beyond a predominantly regulatory role and appears as the dominant actor. We take Russia to be a prominent example of authoritarian state capitalism because the central state has subjugated economy, created organisational structures and designed development strategies to serve the interests of the kleptocrat, inverting the conventional meaning of ‘state capture’. The paper illustrates the centrality of the state by exploring two state-sponsored megaprojects: (i) the upgrade of the Northern Sea Route and (ii) the construction of innovation clusters (Skolkovo). In the first case, the state directs resources to the Northern Sea Route to secure Russia’s control of the Arctic. In the second case, the state attempts to replicate the perceived developmental success stories of the West by fostering technology clusters. Each illustrative case offers an instructive insight into Russia’s authoritarian state capitalism characterised by tensions between its own political and economic repertoires and a contentious relationship with the Western-dominated liberal capitalist world order.