Corruption in Putin’s Russia
Political competition is a necessary element for properly structuring any economy. We would like to see more ideas and more political competition in the development of these ideas.
— Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, April 21, 2011
They say that a fish rots from the head. Nowhere is that more true than in Russia. The country ranks a genuinely shocking #154 out of 178 world nations when surveyed for corruption, meaning that Russia is the 24th most corrupt country on this planet. Three people can count on their fingers the number of nations more corrupt than Russia, with more than a whole hand going spare.
It did not get that way by accident. As we document in today’s special issue, Russian corruption is so shockingly extensive and deep-rooted because Russia’s very highest leaders are themselves on the take, and the nation is just following their example.
Boris Nemtsov has recently exposed the horrifying personal corruption of Vladimir Putin himself, as well as that of Putin’s entire inner circle. This clan of thieves is looting Russia to the bare walls, to the tune of billions of dollars, and they are free to do so because Russia’s political and media establishments are just as corrupted as they are.
They are brazen about it. Putin and Medvedev have a whole galaxy of castles and palaces being built around them for their personal amusement, and they are guzzling billions of dollars from the Russian treasury to pad Swiss bank accounts.
Putin has always been corrupt, even when he was a student. He shamelessly plagiarized his PhD thesis, and when he was caught red-handed nothing at all was done to punish him. The message sent to Russia’s young people is perfectly clear: Cheating and lying is good, learn how as soon as you can. The better you do it, the better off you’ll be. Become a real master, and you might get to be president one day.
Stories about appalling corruption and its dire effects flow out of Russia like a river of blood. Just days ago, it was reported the the KGB was forcing Russia’s leading online search engine, Yandex, to turn over lists of persons using “Yandex Money” to make donations to political groups despised by the Kremlin, like Alexei Navalny’s Rospil. Yandex provided the information, and then the donors where harassed and intimidated. This is rank political corruption of the first magnitude, the Kremlin using direct control over the Internet to crush dissent in the same manner it was done in Soviet times.
It’s not hard to understand how things like this can happen when you know that the Kremlin controls all broadcast television, doesn’t allow any true opposition parties in parliament, and directly appoints the governors of Russia’s states. There simply is no center of power that can monitor and reveal corruption to Russian citizens, so they have no idea of its extent.
But even if they did know, they likely would do nothing. Russia’s population is itself corrupt, and gutless. Russians won’t stand up and fight for their rights, so the Kremlin takes them all away with the greatest of ease. Russians did nothing to rein in the dictator Josef Stalin, and they will do nothing to stop Putin either.
The result can only be the same. Russia will collapse just as the USSR did not so very long ago.