Staunton, September 20 – When Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956, stories circulated that someone in the audience of the 20th CPSU Congress shouted “where were you when all this was going on?” and that many were asking themselves whether the charges against Stalin did not raise questions about the entire Soviet leadership.
Something similar appears to be going on now with the findings that Vyachesav Gayzer, now former head of the Komi Republic, not only was guilty of extortion and other crimes but headed a veritable criminal conspiracy and had been doing so for the last nine years. If that is so, who else may be getting away with such crimes? And what does that say about the Putin system?
That such questions are beginning to arise in Russia is suggested by the comments today of Anatoly Baranov, the editor of the communist Forum-MSK.org internet portal (forum-msk.org/material/news/10997228.html).
This latest scandal, he says, only serves as confirmation of what he for the last 15 years has been deeply convinced is the case: “that the very same thing is going on in any oblast or republic administration and at all lower levels as well.” Finally, one of those involved has been arrested, but what’s next?
Having said “A,” Baranov continues, “it is necessary to say ‘B’” and investigate “all the administrations of the subjects of the federation and of the federal government as well.” But if that happens, “who will Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] have left?”
Obviously, many senior officials are worried because they know that there is an enormous amount of compromising materials about them out there, some of it published, some of it not. And now they have to worry that this could lead to the kind of criminal charges which would take not only their positions but all their ill-gotten gains away from them.
Baranov says he just saw a French play in which French tax inspectors were investigating the incomes of wealthy citizens, something “absolutely unthinkable” in Russia. Were such investigations to start, how would officials explain their villas and the other attributes of their wealth?