The Power to Corrupt in the Hands of the Corruptors

Today President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the Enlarged Collegium of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), calling upon the group to join the fight against corruption and support Russia’s foreign policy objectives, among other issues. (see quotes below, full speech available here). putin_FSB.jpg Russia’s foreign policy positions “depend to a great extent” on the work of the FSB. Mr. Putin’s speech telling this organization to fight corruption can be compared to a speech by Robert Mugabe on protecting white farms. The FSB has unfortunately become racked by promiscuous corruption, in addition to the invidious and debilitating effects of serving as virtual enforcement arm of a political elite drunk on the impunity of state theft. This speech bluntly places more of the power to corrupt in the hands of the corruptors. It is not a positive sign, but rather it reflects an intent by the present administration to maintain a course despite the waves and rough seas recently encountered in Davos by Russia’s best and brightest. Later in the same speech, Putin refers to the FSB’s role in bolstering foreign policy. Fanning the flames of the very organization that brought us the Sutyagin and Danilov “spy mania” cases, demonstrates that the societal paranoia reflected in the massive growth of FSB and SVR stations in the West will conbtinue. There is nothing in this speech to comfort those who seek any form of constructive movement by Russia in the area of rule of law, freedom of speech, and the overall ability of individuals in the Russian Federation to exercise their civil and political rights as protected by law. From

“As you know, the Russian economy has been growing steadily. We must ensure that the business environment in Russia is reliably protected from corruption and economic crime. Some results were achieved in this area last year. You succeeded in preventing losses to the state, which, according to your estimates, came to some 47 billion roubles. More than 3,000 criminal cases have been opened. But you must be well aware that concrete losses are not the only issue. These kinds of crimes, if they go unpunished, eat away at society and deal a serious blow to Russia’s reputation as a country with a civilised economic environment.” “Finally, we should not forget that Russia’s ratification of international anti-corruption conventions and agreements also opens up new opportunities for fighting crime.” … “Another key priority for the FSB is to make its counterintelligence operations more effective. Modern Russia has an active and multi-vector foreign policy and we are becoming more and more confidently integrated into the world economy. It is important in this respect to prevent leaks of protected political and economic information and ensure reliable protection for promising scientific developments and technology. Russia’s foreign policy positions and its competitiveness on world markets depend to a great extent on this work.”