Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Corruption is ‘Not a Russian Word,’ Orekh Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 27 – Russians may look like Europeans or even Americans, but they are quite different inside, and nothing has highlighted that difference more clearly than the way Europeans and Americans reacted to reports about Vladimir Putin’s corruptly gained wealth and the way Russians did, according to Anton Orekh.

            In a commentary in “Yezhednevny zhurnal” yesterday, the Moscow commentator says that what the BBC documented and American officials confirmed “from an American-European point of view” certainly looks like corruption. But from a Russian one, this situation looks quite different (

            For Russians, what was shown is “not corruption” but rather a manifestation of friendship and a kindly responsiveness to the needs of those around him.  “Corruption is some kind of imported word,” Orekh says; and that may be why Russians can’t really fight against it because they do not understand this phenomenon the way the West does.

            “In the West,” Orekh continues, “money gives power, but among [Russians] it is just the reverse: power gives money and also takes money away as well.”

            Putin doesn’t need billions in cash or stocks, “if he owns the entire country!” the commentator continues. “The extent of his wealth is in fact equal to the size of the budget of the country, or even more to the size of all its national wealth. At any moment,he can get absolutely everything he needs and practically in any quantity.”

            No one knows exactly how many residences Putin has, but Orekh says that he knows one thing for sure: he didn’t pay anything for any of them.  They were all a gift from those around him. And Putin doesn’t need property abroad because he can travel there in luxury provided by the Russian state.

            “The last time Putin really purchased something on his own was in the last century,” certainly well before he became president, the commentator continues. His friends need money to buy things but he makes sure of their loyalty by providing them with state resources to do so, via one or another channel.

            Moreover, Orekh says, Putin doesn’t need foreign accounts.  He might if he planned to retire but he has no such plans. “The meaning of his rule is that it is conceived as being for life. And even if there will be somewhere in his old age assigned yet another Dmitry Anatolyevich [Medvedev], Vladimir Vladimirovich will be in it our Russian Deng Xiaoping.”

            “Therefore,” the commentator concludes, Putin “will never need anything … He will live – indeed he already does so – under communism for a single individual, having organized for his friends developed socialism with elements of feudalism.”

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