Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
While watching the Bank of Moscow scandal unfold, two questions come to mind. First, the Bank of Moscow held the accounts of Moscow’s city budget, and the deficit of the bank is now $14 billion. In essence this means that the city’s funds have been stolen from the bank. How did this happen?
The second question is whether VTB will file a lawsuit in London courts against former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin. It appears that the goal is not to extradite him back to Russia but to put him behind bars in Britain.
Borodin somehow received 20 percent of the shares of the bank, but it is difficult to say whether he was an actual or nominal shareholder.
Artur Kositsyn, Paragon of Russia
Policeman and Serial Rapist Artur Kositsyn
It’s hard to know which fact about Russian criminal Artur Kositsyn is more outrageous, his resume or his sentence.
While serving as a lieutenant for the Podolsk traffic police force in the Moscow region, Kositsyn raped at least 27 women at knifepoint, perhaps as many as 39. The sentence he received upon conviction amounted to six months per rape. In utterly bizarre fashion, sentence was then reduced by one year under a deal with Kositsyn in which he agreed to be incarcerated in a maximum-security prison.
Mr. Kositsyn is, in other words, a paragon of his country. Which reminds us of “president” Dima Medvedev.
Russia and its “Wealth”
According to the Wealth-X website, Russia has one-quarter the ultra high net worth (UHNW) citizens that Brazil has and close to one-tenth the number held by India and China. But Russia goes toe-to-toe with the other BRIC nations when it comes to billionaires, and those billionaires control a shocking 85% of all the wealth held by Russia’s ultra-rich. In Brazil and India (and for that matter the United States), billionaires do not even control a third of the ultra-rich asset base. Russia’s billionaires control a third of Russia’s GDP, whereas in the USA billionaires control just a tenth.
What this data shows beyond any question is that Russia is a disastrous failure when it comes to spreading the wealth. Russia is an oligarchy even within its oligarchy, as billionaires greedily refuse to allow millionaires to have a fair share of the investment pot. And Russia’s ultra-rich control an unspeakably vast segment of Russia’s total wealth, meaning that only a very narrow group of decision-makers controls the lion’s share of all important financial decisions. With such limited information and viewpoints, it’s inevitable that Russian innovation and entrepreneurship will suffer.
Putin pulls a Clinton
What do you think, dear reader, when you gaze upon the image above (click to see it full size, if you have the stomach for it). Do you think: “Who in God’s name would be so warped as to arrange a scene like that, much less want to photograph if for posterity?”
That’s what we thought, too! Would you then be surprised to learn that the person who composed and photographed this image has just been hired as one of the official photographers for Vladimir Putin, so-called “prime minister” of Russia?
So were we!
Victor Davidoff, writing in the Moscow Times, explains the shamelessly fraudulent and likely illegal means by which Vladimir Putin is generating support for his “People’s Front” initiative:
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin first floated the idea of creating the All-Russia People’s Front on May 6. A week later, the front’s founding document was published. Since then — a little over a month — Putin has arguably become the most popular politician in history. Today his front has several million supporters and about 500 organizations as members. According to information from the local branch of United Russia in the Khabarovsk region, half a million people support the front out of a total population of 1.34 million. In one day, 39,000 employees of the holding company Siberian Business Union joined the front; that is, four divisions in military terms, an apt comparison when talking about the people’s front. Putin, it would seem, has outdone Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong — and he has done it without resorting to terror.
John Helmer reports:
In European folklore, will-o’-the-wisps are lambent flames seen flickering over bogs and fens, and known by many different names and stories. Usually explicable as methane igniting, in some Baltic mythologies the will-o’-the-wisp is believed to signal buried treasure. In others, the ignition is believed to be the trick of a mendacious imp intent on leading unwary travellers to misfortune.
In the history of the Russian steel business since 1990, just two men have gone bankrupt while trying to create steelmill empires, and including them, four groups have collapsed. Considering how small their indebtedness was compared to the likes of the steel majors – Evraz, Severstal, Mechel – they might think of themselves as plucky, but unlucky.
As of the last tax year, that was the sum in Russian “president” Dima Medvedev’s bank account. It had doubled compared to the year just before he became “president” of the country, although his salary in the intervening three years remained constant and was far lower than he received as the top executive at Gazprom, Russia’s largest business entity. Medvedev’s income remained, laughably, far less than that of Russia’s “prime minister” Vladimir Putin. Two years ago Medvedev’s wife had 50% more than that in her own bank account. Now, she has nothing. When asked what happened to the money by a Russian financial newspaper, the Kremlin refused to say. In a recent survey, over 75% of Russian respondents said that Medvedev, like all Russian officials, was lying when he reported his income last year.