Cotton business: how the Uzbeks built the biggest corruption scheme in the Soviet Union


Bribery in the Soviet Union has always been positioned as a phenomenon inherent only in capitalist society. However, in many spheres of life, corruption was hushed up and emerged only in the form of particularly high-profile events. One of these is Cotton Business.

The Cotton Case is a series of high-profile criminal cases that exposed more than 4 thousand corrupt officials in the Uzbek SSR at various levels of power.

The crimes revealed in the 1980s were committed with the approval of the Brezhnev leadership. The investigation was initiated by the new General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Yu.V. Andropov to discipline the administrative apparatus.

The cause of the scandal was

It’s all about overstated government plans. In the best times Uzbekistan

In order not to upset the Moscow leadership and report on the fulfilled plan,

However, money for non-existent cotton was regularly transferred to the budget of the republic. They were distributed among the leaderships of factories and collective farms, as well as among members of regional authorities. Also, part of the money went back as gifts to members of the state apparatus.

Inspection bodies also bribed. Later, the missing finished cotton product was explained by its losses during transportation, processing and production of goods.

This model has worked for at least 15 years

The cotton frauds were known to the Allied leadership since the 1970s, but under the influence of Brezhnev they were hushed up. After his death, a commission under the USSR Prosecutor’s Office undertook to investigate the corruption case.

The results were terrible. The Minister of the Cotton Ginning Industry V. Usmanov and the head of the fight against embezzlement in Uzbekistan A. Muzafarov were sentenced to death.

Other participants in the crimes — secretaries of the local Communist Party, various chiefs, directors and chairmen, as well as generals and colonels of power structures, who covered the participants in the scheme — did not avoid long terms of imprisonment.

During the searches they

The accused in the Khlopkov case surrendered many members of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee. As it turned out, these events affected almost the entire top of the government. However, in 1990, the Commission of Inquiry into Corruption

As for the bribe-takers, in 1991 the newly-made President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov pardoned all the defendants in the high-profile case and released the Uzbek prisoners.

It is not known how many such corruption schemes existed in the USSR. But the Cotton Business has definitely become the largest in the history of the country.