Russia’s Rent-a-Mob Racket
by Dave Essel
We all know that neo-nazi Russia does not permit genuine popular demonstrations. I can never quite get it through my mind how one can have a constitution permitting the freedom to demonstrate and the fact on the ground that authorisation to demonstrate has to be sought and obtained. Unauthorised demonstrations lead to broken heads and arrests – to a greater or lesser extent depending on whether it is neo-nazi youth getting a bit too turbulent without having been invited to do so (in which case expect some nominal arrests and quick releases with a warning, as was the case last November 4, or people genuinely moved to demonstrate about a genuine evil, in which case it’s 14 days in the cells as it takes that long for semi-literate cops to compose a case).
So it was with particular interest that I read this report in Novaya Gazeta about how actual demonstrations are organised.
Just as capitalism in Russia bears only a slight resemblance to the real thing – more 19th century factory screwing workers by paying in factory notes that can only be used for purchases in the company store than voluntary and mutually beneficial exchange of goods/service for money) so Russian demonstrations are not spontaneous manifestations – of course, but rent-a-mob with the added element of manages to screw the rented mob and make money for the stewards!
Sweet land of блат, pork (in very small portions for all but the select), and exploitation of the disenfranchised….
We’ve published a lot of sad, pathetic stories about fundamental failure in Vladimir Putin’s Russia over the years, but to date we feel this is the saddest and most pathetic of them all. It truly sums up the abject horror that has been brought to Russia by the governance of a proud KGB spy, a relic of a failed passed who simply knows no better. The Moscow Times reports:
Punctuality in making payments had always been Dmitry’s pride, but in April he was forced to delay employee salaries by more than a month.
The sanitary inspector, who he usually bribed, had demanded an extra $15,000 to buy a new car for his wife. Dmitry had little choice but to hand over the money or see his shop closed for “sanitary reasons.” But the bribe left no funds to pay the wages of his 15 employees.
“I had to ask the employees to wait, and I paid them back bit by bit,” Dmitry said.
But Dmitry and other small business owners hope that times will change — and not because the Kremlin has promised to crack down on corruption. They said the financial crisis could actually help their companies by lowering the cost of bribes.
“I hope that this crisis that is hitting every sector of our economy brings some order. I hope that it makes our bureaucrats understand the real value of money,” said Artyom, who like Dmitry asked that his last name be withheld in order to speak candidly.
Writing in the Moscow Times Georgy Saratov, president of Indem, a Moscow-based think tank, exposes that fraud that is “president” Dima Medvedev’s “anti-corruption” campaign:
At the first meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council on Sept. 30, President Dmitry Medvedev unveiled what he believes to be the key weapons in the battle against corruption. His “National Plan Against Corruption,” which consists of a main anti-corruption bill and amendments to 25 laws, has been submitted to the State Duma for review and approval.
The Moscow Times reports:
Lawyer Inna Yermoshkina gave little thought to the two dozen police officers waiting near the entrance of her apartment building when she returned home one evening in May. After all, she thought, she hadn’t done anything wrong. But when the plainclothes officers surrounded Yermoshkina and her husband and a uniformed officer ordered their arrest, she understood that there was no going back. Yermoshkina, 41, was handcuffed and placed in a police car, where she said she was assaulted by officers. Police escorted her husband up to their apartment, where she claims that they confiscated documents she had gathered about relatives of senior city and government official. The man in uniform said the couple was being investigated for fraud.
“This will teach you not to step on the toes of important people,” Yermoshkina recalled the police officer saying.
A Spanish judge is probing whether the Russian soccer team that won the UEFA cup earlier this year did so using mafia-fueled bribes. The sad thing about this is not the possiblity that the rumor is true, but how instantly credible it is that Russia could be involved in such activity. In fact, it’s not even a little bit surprising. ESPN reports:
Zenit St Petersburg manager Dick Advocaat has joined his club in expressing his dismay at allegations that the Russian club won the UEFA Cup by virtue of match-fixing.
Spanish newspaper El Pais claimed a judge had forwarded information to German prosecutors which claimed a gang with links to the Russian mafia had given money to Bayern Munich before their semi-final earlier this year.
Radio Free Europe reports:
Corruption in Russia is at its worst for eight years, watchdog Transparency International has said, stoking investor fears just a week after Russian markets suffered their biggest losses in a decade.
The annual survey by the Berlin-based watchdog put Russia in joint 147th position with Bangladesh, Kenya, and Syria, raising the challenge for President Dmitry Medvedev, who has made fighting graft a priority. “All this data taken together demonstrates that the situation in Russia has reached a threatening scale,” the watchdog said in a commentary attached to the survey. “The phenomenon of corruption…seriously undermines the very statehood of Russia.”
Corruption has penetrated every sphere of life from politics, the police, and judiciary to business, health, and education, the report said.