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A Lucrative System Does not Disappear Overnight

Ed Lucas has a new piece in the Daily Mail today, which he says is “subtle, nuanced (but heartfelt).” At least he hasn’t lost his sense of irony:

Make no mistake: Mr Medvedev’s job is to put a presentable face on the sinister regime that runs Russia. He may criticise, rightly, Russia’s colossal corruption, shambolic public services, crumbling infrastructure, soaring inflation, grotesque abuses of power, sprawling bureaucracy, and overweening state intervention in the economy. But that does not mean he can or will do much about them. A system that has proved so hugely lucrative to the hard men in the Kremlin is not going to disappear over night, if at all. Mr Medvedev’s “hurrah chorus” say that the ruthless tycoon-bureaucrats of the Putin regime will be pensioned off. They will either accept their “severance packages” of a few billion dollars or they can join Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil baron who was once Russia’s richest man, in his prison cell near the Chinese border.