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Russia’s Bureaucracy in Panic

Newsweek has an interesting article today by Owen Matthews which takes a look at the struggles amongst the siloviki during the transition to Medvedev, reiterating much of what has been argued on this blog. According to Matthews’s sources, the next president is unlikely to seek punishment for those who backed his rival Sergei Ivanov, but will rather send them into cushy state corporatist jobs, while his anti-corruption platform will claim a number of victims at lower levels… As such, there is a palpable panic in the bureaucracy, causing a swift rise in corruption.

Now many apparatchiks are trying to squeeze as much money from their positions as they can, in anticipation of Medvedev’s spring anti-corruption campaign. “Almost all of my clients have reported a spike in shakedowns from bureaucrats and the police,” says one top Moscow-based banker, who didn’t want to be quoted discussing his clients. “Every bureaucrat in Moscow is trying to boost their retirement plan.” So if Medvedev wants to wield any real power, he will have to take on the culture of bureaucratic graft that Putin created—while at the same time protecting Putin’s closest friends from prosecution. At Medvedev’s Inauguration, many of the guests will be wondering which group they fall into.

Also, in the same issue of the magazine, Andrew Nagorski reviews Ed Lucas’s new book.