December 23rd, 2010

Corruption Reaches Putin and Top Officials

Russian President’s chief economic advisor Arkady Dvorkovich acknowledged in a BBC interview that his country is having a perception issue. He also suggested that 1,000 years of corruption is a hard habit to kick but the authorities are looking into violations of the rule of law. Acceptance is the first step to change and Russia is in need of much change. In the latest Transparency International  survey, Russia declined in ranking again this year to 154 out of 178 countries.

Perception is based on reality and a whistleblower came out today to implicate Prime Minister Putin at the top of an elaborate multiyear scheme to extract contributions from Russian businessmen. Sergei Kolesnikov, a business associate of Putin, has offered the most detailed description of how Putin has engaged in a combination of corruption, bribery and theft to amass his own personal wealth. Read the letter here.

In the open letter to President Medvedev, Kolesnikov reveals Putin’s secret funding network. This letter was delivered Tuesday to the Russian U.N. mission in New York. Two or three times a year Kolesnikov regularly briefed Putin on his personal wealth accumulated through contributions by businessmen. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote today that “it’s one of the most detailed allegations I’ve seen of the links between Putin and Russia’s “crony capitalism.”

Additional reporting by Ellen Barry at the New York Times show how corruption and politics prevent uncovering the truth about the death of Sergei Magnitsky. Contradictory official statements and lack of oversight have prevented the truth to be known. President Medvedev established the Public Oversight Commission to look into the case but after an initial thoughtful review was hijacked by security forces.

These same Federal Security Service (FSB) forces also known as the siloviki are the subject of an article in the New York Review of Books which refers to them as the New Nobility in Russia. In the assessment the FSB runs the country with Putin at the top.

…the FSB focuses its efforts on protecting the Kremlin’s vast economic interests, suppressing legitimate political opposition, and ensuring the Kremlin’s control over the press and television through intimidation and violence.

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