Saturday, January 05, 2008

Corruption in Kremlin

Britain's biggest-selling broadsheet newspaper runs a story today on how "Putin's men 'lined pockets' from state funds". It include quotes from Andrey Illarionov, Putin's economic advisor until his resignation two years ago.

Illarionov claims the Russian government's £75 billion Stabilisation Fund, created in 2004 to cushion the budget from a fall in oil prices, was being exploited by members of the ruling elite for their personal benefit, and that the state's institutions have become the tools of Putin's circle.

"At the moment for many of the people who are in power, there is almost no other means left to them but to escalate violence and aggression in order to remain in power. They are not stupid people and they understand that the peak of their popularity has passed and that they will have to resort to the kind of violence seen in the past few weeks."

"The country has entered one of the most dangerous phases in its history, when almost all the institutions of a modern state have been destroyed and there is nothing that can be used as a support in a crisis."

He insisted, though, that Russia's present direction was a deviation. "This option is a dead end - and will come to an end. It will end much more quickly that many people think," he said.

He also speaks of alleged "velvet re-privatization" i.e. the forcing down of the value of ex-state assets before putting them into the hands of loyalists.

A couple of days ago a goverment commission was set up to examine the dire financial situation in which the Ukrainian state gas company"Naftohaz Ukrainy" finds itself. Tymoshenko has given the commission until the end of the month to determine why the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Many, including Tymoshenko, and new "Naftohaz" head Oleh Dubyna claim former government officials and their forerunners deliberately engineered it in order to "hand over the pipelines [and associated systems owned by Naftohaz] to settle debts."

Mykola Syvulskiy, a BYuT deputy, claims "This is Putin's plan, to grab Ukraine by the throat, and then - Europe!..[cripes!]

Pipelines passing over Belarus are already under Russian control. Oh, and Ukrainian atomic energy company "Enerhoatom" is similarly tottering on the verge of bankruptcy.

We will see how the new Ukrainian administration tackles these stategic companies' problems. Probably best wait until the new man, who is untainted with any suspicion of 'mokrie dela' at home or [near?] abroad, arrives in the Kremlin in just a couple of months time.

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