2009: Year of Russian Corruption

Vladimir Ryzhkov’s column in the Moscow Times points to a very bad year in terms of human rights and corruption in Russia.  It’s really quite a staggering list.

Throughout the year, Medvedev was incapable of managing the country’s numerous political and economic crises. In March, Moscow’s Khamovichesky District Court started a new criminal case against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev that is even more absurd than the first conviction. There was a trial against several minor accomplices in the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, but the mastermind has yet to be charged.

In April, drunken Moscow police Major Denis Yevsyukov went on a shooting spree in a supermarket, using a gun that had been sought in connection with a previous crime. Not long ago, police Major Alexei Dymovsky made a YouTube appeal to Putin complaining of abuses in the police force. Amazingly, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, a close associate of Putin, has managed to hold onto his job. Nor have there been any shakeups in the secret services, despite a repeat bombing of the Nevsky Express train and a wave of terrorist acts in the North Caucasus.

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4 Comments

  1. Jeremy Putley
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Financial TimesDismissal puts spotlight on Kremlin rivalryBy Charles Clover in MoscowPublished: December 21 2009 23:56 | Last updated: December 21 2009 23:56The firing of a top law enforcement official in Russia was overturned on Monday in what appears to be part of an inter-factional war between rival Kremlin groups, the first time such a dispute has erupted in public under the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev.The dispute over the firing of Anatoly Bagmet, head of the Moscow investigative branch of the prosecutor-general’s office, threatens the delicate ruling tandem of Mr Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, the powerful prime minister and former president. Behind the scenes the two men appear to support figures from opposing political factions.On Friday, Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor-general, dismissed Mr Bagmet for unspecified reasons. However, on Monday he was back at his job. Through an oddity of government procedure he apparently can only be fired by his direct boss, Aleksander Bastrykin, who is Mr Chaika’s deputy. Mr Chaika was forced to cancel the dismissal order.Mr Bastrykin’s influence may owe something to the fact he was Mr Putin’s classmate in the law faculty of Leningrad University.Mr Bagmet has investigated many of Russia’s most political cases since taking up his post in 2008.He headed the inquiry into Sergei Storchak, the deputy finance minister and ally of Aleksei Kudrin, finance minister. In April 2009 Mr Storchak was charged with fraud in what was widely seen as a politically motivated vendetta.Mr Bagmet also played a role in the investigation into a complaint by Hermitage Capital Management, one of Russia’s largest portfolio investors, into what they say was fraudulent use of their companies. Following the complaint, Mr Bagmet’s department initiated criminal proceedings against Hermitage’s lawyers, causing them to flee the country in 2008.“Mr Bagmet has a direct connection to the case in which our lawyers have been persecuted,” said Bill Browder, head of Hermitage Capital.Mr Browder said he did not believe the move against Mr Bagmet had anything to do with his company. Mr Bagmet could not be reached for comment.One political observer who asked to remain anonymous said the move against Mr Bagmet appeared to be part of a campaign by officials close to Mr Medvedev to “clean house” in Russia’s law enforcement community. However, Russian politicians said Mr Medvedev had taken no part in the controversy.“Medvedev is not involved, at least so far,” said Gennady Gudkov, deputy head of the security committee of the state Duma, the lower house of parliament. “I wouldn’t say it is an inter-clan war – more like an internal agency fight right now.”Mr Medvedev has made a pet issue of combating what he calls “legal nihilism” – the misuse of the criminal justice system by powerful individuals for personal ends. Technically, he has the power to fire anyone he wants. But according to Vladimr Pribylovsky, a Moscow political scientist, he is unlikely to do so in this case because of Mr Putin’s connection to Mr Bastrykin: “I think that Medvedev sympathises with Chaika. But Putin controls the country, and Medvedev is not going to get involved openly.”

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