Russia is a Mafia State
In the past, we’ve castigated the Moscow Times for carrying the propaganda spewed out by the Renaissance Capital brokerage house in Russia, which routinely publishes its advertising material in the guise of “op-ed” pieces and may be giving undisclosed financial support to the paper. It’s surely the MT’s worst feature that it doesn’t warn readers about the inherent conflict of interest Renaissance staff have in “analyzing” the Russian market when they earn their living by convincing foreigners to invest in it.
So it hardly came as much suprise to us to read in the New York Times last week that William Browder of Hermitage Capital, a leading Russian investor booted out of the country for daring to demand transparancy (Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sent to Siberia for the same reason), had filed a lawsuit in New York City alleging that there are “the ties between those who took over the Hermitage companies after Mr. Browder was forced out in 2005; officers of the Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the K.G.B. known as the F.S.B.; and executives at a Renaissance group company, Renaissance Capital.”
That’s right: Browder claims that Renaissance is in bed not just with the Russian government, but with Vladimir Putin’s KGB, and has been helping high-ranking figures in the Russian government steal billions from the Russian treasury (such charges have already been made directly against Vladimir Putin himself).
When Browder tried to file a similar action some time ago in Russia itself, the Kremlin’s response was swift and sure: It jailed his lawyers. Now, Browder aims to prove that a vast conspiracy among corrupt pro-Kremlin businesses and even more corrupt Kremlin insiders has been bilking the Russian state and foreign investors out of untold billions of dollars. How inconvenient for the Kremlin that Browder is no longer in the country and can’t be sent to Siberia like Mikhail Khodorkovksy. Then again,there’s always the Litvinenko solution, isn’t there?
It’s time for the MT to cut its ties with Renaissance and for all those outside Russia to realize that stock brokers and investment bankers in Russia simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the Russian market. Their self interest, to say nothing of their fear of the Kremlin, preculdes it. People look to the MT for unbiased insights about Russian, not pro-Kremlin propaganda that’s been bought and paid for with blood money.