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Putin On The Ritz

inoUX3YjxUgkThe new Global Corruption Barometer from Transparency International has apparently found that 50% of Russians believe that corruption in Russia has increased in the past two years.  A decreasing number (5%) believe that Putin’s efforts to battle graft are effective. 0% of people polled believe they are ‘very effective’.  Some might be surprised at the idea of crediting any efforts to Putin, since save for the odd act of lip service to the cause, he is scarcely known for his determination to drive out corruption (the man currently on trial in Kirov holds that accolade).  

An article from Bloomberg examining House No. 3 on Moscow’s Swedish Blind alley, where apartments owned by Putin, Igor Sechin and Sergei Lavrov inter alia, go for a cool $50 million, reminds us that the President and his associates have much to gain from the current state of affairs:

It’s not clear if Putin’s allies bought the apartments or got them for free. Once an official is assigned a flat, it usually remains state property for a year before the occupant is allowed to privatize it at no cost, Kryshtanovskaya said.

“Many people think having a car with a police light is the best privilege of being an elite,” Kryshtanovskaya said. “That’s wrong. Apartments are the biggest benefit the Russian elite gets from the Kremlin.”

[…]

Likely buyers are people who want to be close to decision makers for business reasons, said Gleb Pavlosky, a former Kremlin political adviser.

“Russia’s elite loves to crowd into what the diplomats call settlements, or blocks isolated from the uncivilized tribes,” Pavlovsky said. “These strange crowding habits come from their self-perception of being unrecognized nobles.”

Read the rest here.