Le Bourgeois gentilhomme: political corruption of Russian doctorates
This paper addresses the issue of doctorates for sale in the Russian Federation. It focuses specifically on the practice of conferring fake or unearned doctoral degrees to elected politicians and other public officials. It assembles and analyzes a database of doctoral degrees, academic ranks, memberships in the academies, awards, decorations, and titles held by the members of the Russian government, the Federation Council and the State Duma. In theory, doctorates are needed to pursue scholarship and research. In practice, however, doctorates offer to their holders some indirect or intangible benefits, among which are public recognition and respect. These can then be transformed into direct and tangible benefits through different means, including the electoral process. Accordingly, it may be the case that Russian political elites abuse the existing system of conferring doctorates in order to improve their image, and use the degrees as status-symbols in the highly ceremonial society of modern Russia.