It took the Russian Empire three centuries to develop a caste of professional bureaucracy by mass import of foreigners into that profession. By the late nineteenth century, Russia had finally replaced most Germans in government service with natives. Still, the provincial bureaucracy was famously corrupt and inefficient. The Bolsheviks killed all the tsarist bureaucrats but failed to create new ones. Communist officials throughout the existence of the USSR were commissars rather than bureaucrats; they relied on arbitrary commands rather than professionalism and cooperation.

In terms of professionalism, Russia has lost the two generations which graduated from mid-1980s until now. The quality of education greatly deteriorated in the last twenty years, with the brightest students and many professors leaving universities for entrepreneurship. Russia’s universities offer very poor education now, and there is no possibility of changing that situation any time soon; there are too few good teachers to educate a new generation of professors. The diversity and complexity of modern knowledge has made it very fragile. There could never be enough good teachers to staff mass education, but Russia has lost the great educational potential it painstakingly developed over the previous century.