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Not-So-Subtle Surkov

surkov0411.jpgNashi’s heart is vaguely in the right place with the anti-corruption rally it plans to hold in Moscow this weekend and which is expected to draw 50,000 supporters.  Perhaps not so much with the ‘erotic calendar‘ designed to mark the event (complete with underwear-clad models who say they can ‘get turned on without a bribe‘…), and perhaps not so much in relation to rumors that the youth group has poached the planned rally from the Popular Freedom Party (Parnas), which apparently organized its anti-corruption rally first.  But the movement is certainly, at base, a force for fairness and change.  Which makes it all the more unfortunate to see it being used to murky ends.  
Vladislav Surkov, allegedly once a member of the Soviet Army’s intelligence unit, and now a top Putin aide and Kremlin First Deputy Chief of Staff (or ‘dark prince of the Kremlin‘, if Hobbit-inspired political metaphors are more your thing), is using one of the opposition’s biggest bugbears against them: 
The opposition likes to accuse the authorities of corruption, he said, yet “they live on dubious foreign grants without even trying to hide the fact. What is this if not a demonstration of corruption?” he said. It appears that “they cannot be detained” for breaching the law but “are allowed to receive foreign cash,” he added. “Those who have institutionalized corruption are placing the blame on us and writing ‘anti-corruption reports,'” Surkov concluded, referring to the “Putin. Corruption” report compiled by opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov. “All these critics clearly find it easy to fabricate stories built on lies or economic benefit,” Surkov said, in a statement that echoed remarks made by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who had accused Parnas’ leaders of theft during their time in office in the 1990s. 

It just doesn’t make any logical sense to blame the opposition for Russia’s corruption pandemic, given that everyone knows that Russia’s major corruption issues are related to illegal transactions within public services.  In fact, Surkov is practically in danger of appearing to be pro-corruption here, because with tactics like these, he’s turning anti-corruption attention away from the real culprits: bureaucrats, police, and state officials.  
To be fair, he also gave some fairly sound advice:

“We can only stop corruption ourselves,” he said. “There is no other way, but to lead by example. The more people stop giving bribes, the bigger the chances that fewer people will take bribes.  “There is no exit from this vicious circle, apart from stopping giving bribes. If your generation and the next generation inherit today’s greed, the country will be simply emptied.” 
Meanwhile there is a rumor circulating in the blogosphere that Vladislav Surkov was somehow connected to the recent LiveJournal web attack, which affected Boris Nemtsov, who also blamed the security services.  Perhaps Surkov’s corruption scapegoat was tit-for-tat in the blame game?