Friday, February 1, 2019

‘Selective’ Acts Against Corrupt Officials Only Increase Russians’ Hatred of Officials, Solovey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 31 – The Kremlin is clearly operating on the assumption that its arrest of some high-profile officials and politicians for corruption will win it favor with the population, but that assumption is not justified, Valery Solovey says. Instead, the selectiveness is obvious to all; and the arrests are only adding “fuel to the fire” of popular hatred of officialdom.

            While Solovey does not address what the Kremlin might do with respect to such charges in order to achieve the desired effect in his blog post (, there are two obvious possibilities, one that would be desirable but seems unlikely and a second that seems more likely but potentially dangerous.

            On the one hand, the Kremlin could decide to make a turn to a genuine rule of law in which prosecutors are allowed to bring charges on the basis of the evidence rather than telephone calls from the Presidential Administration. But that would be entirely out of character for Putin and would risk bringing charges against some of his most important supporters.

            And on the other hand, Putin could decide to move in the opposite direction, to bring more charges – there are plenty of officials against whom they could be brought – although that would simultaneously highlight for the public just how corrupt his kleptocracy is and generate new fears and possible opposition by elites.

            Consequently, Putin appears most likely to continue to use the same tactic even though it is bringing ever fewer political rewards, acting less because this is his preference than because the other choices either violate his values or carry risks to his position that the Kremlin leader will do anything to avoid. 

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