Paul Goble reports on the shocking level of criminality in Vladimir Putin’s Russia (Robert Amsterdam has translated the entire article Goble discusses). Vladimir Putin told Time magazine it’s wrong to think of Russians as being “a little bit savage.” This data shows he’s clearly right. They’re a lot savage. Note that this information comes from the Kremlin itself, which means two things. First, it’s likely an understatement (after all, even if the Kremlin isn’t lying, think of all those who simply don’t get caught, or bribe their way out of trouble using Russia’s equally corrupt “justice” system). Second, it’s probably a sign that the Kremlin intends a new round of neo-Soviet crackdowns on civil society under the guise of law and order, the same thing Stalin did. And, after all, crime was non-existent in Stalin’s Russia, wasn’t it?
Nearly 25 percent of Russian men have passed through their country’s prison system at some point in their lives, an enormous share of the total and a group whose experiences are shaping Russian society, politics, and even the country’s image in foreign capitals, according to a retired Supreme Court justice. In a recent edition of “Rossiiskaya gazeta,” Vladimir Radchenko provided extensive data to support his argument that the percentage of Russians who are in or who have passed through what he calls “our ‘prison population’” has reached a critical level in terms of its impact on the broader society. The impact of those who returned from the GULAG in the 1950s has received a great deal of attention, but that of those who were convicted or jailed at the end of the Soviet period or since 1991 has received less, Radchenko notes. But he points out that the numbers in each case are large and current judicial arrangements suggest the numbers and impact are on thel increase.