The Governor-General of the Ryazan Province, who is introduced to readers in Chapter IV of The Estate of Wormwood and Honey, is a deeply corrupt man. His first instinct is not simply to look down on the people beneath him, but to use them in any way he can, and to abuse his power as thoughtlessly as possible. But how unusual is that? Not at all. In fact, most Russian Imperial officials were thoroughly corrupt.
Corruption in Russia is so pervasive that the whole society accepts the unacceptable as normal, as the only way of survival, as the way things “just are.”
The whole article is worth a read.