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Mary Dejevsky on the Corfu Yacht Saga

deripaska102308.jpgIt seems this Oleg Deripaska-Lord Mandelson problem just won’t seem to go away:

The only one of Mr Deripaska’s non-attributable disclaimers I find hard to get to grips with is his supposed failure to understand why the Conservatives put it about that the idea of a donation came from him. Really? On reflection, though, this could be true; a characteristic of Russian oligarchs is their collective lack of party-political nous. There is a reason for this, of course. If you get too interested in politics in your home country, you might acquire a taste for actually doing it and end up on the wrong side of some rather flexible Russian laws. This is, after all, what took the oil billionaire, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, from his private plane, via a Moscow courtroom, to a prison camp in Siberia. Which is not to say that oligarchs are not political animals. It is the finer points of Western party politics that tend to elude them. But they also have an acute sense of which way the political wind is blowing, in so far as it will affect them and their business. This is how they made their fortunes in the chaotic prelude and aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Mostly outsiders, many of Jewish origin, and highly educated, they saw opportunities, where others saw only fatal risk.