The discourse of corruption has featured heavily in Russia-related news these past few weeks thanks to the large-scale theft that was allegedly uncovered in the Glonass navigation-satellite program, new investigations into Rostelecom executives, and the rumours earlier this month that Iraq had cancelled a $4.2 billion arms deal with Russia due to concerns about corruption. Whether or not the public nature of these cases is connected to a Putin-led scheme to steal the fire from Alexei Navalny‘s own anti-corruption efforts, it is common knowledge that, in Navalny’s own words, any cleansing of the Kremlin’s upper echelons
“[…] cannot become an overall ideology, because Putin’s system is dependent on corruption — on corruption as a form of management and a guarantee of loyalty from officials. They will not kick out from under themselves the stool that they are standing on.”
Adding to the furore, two further figures this week have spoken up about endemic corruption, adjusting the focus to show that it is very much a problem on local, as well as national, levels. Russia’s candidate for the Miss Earth beauty queen competition, Natalia Pereverzeva, broke with the usual pageant protocol to speak passionately of her country at the competition this week as ‘a great artery, from which the “chosen” few are draining away its wealth‘. And the Washington Post has a special feature on Eduard Mochalov, a farmer from the region of Chuvashia, who has started his own drive to raise awareness about local corruption.
Mochalov’s monthly newspaper, Vzyatka (“The Bribe“), which struggles to meet demand with its print run of 20,000, exposes the corrupt practices of local officials in what is apparently one of Russia’s most corrupt regions.
If they brought charges based on my investigations, they’d have to arrest the entire provincial government,” said Mochalov, as what remained of his abandoned hog barn’s roof crumbled around him.
The full piece is a fascinating case study into the particularities and rigors of local, endemic corruption (“Several officials mentioned in the newspaper have sued him for damaging their reputation. In court, Mochalov, who says he cannot afford a lawyer, defends himself by insisting proceedings be carried out in his native Chuvash language and storming out”), and can be read in full here.
Image source: The Other Russia