Tools of Repossession

Yulia Latynina at the Moscow Times points out that the Kremlin’s preferred apparatus for stealing private property is changing:

The market economy is remarkable, but not because it prevents people from making mistakes. People do make mistakes — and very big ones. What will happen next? The collective debt of all Russian banks and companies exceeds $510 billion, which is roughly equal to the combined total of the country’s stabilization fund and foreign currency reserves. It would be impossible to refinance such a debt in the midst of a Russian financial meltdown. Only the state can partially refinance it using its reserves and stabilization fund. That means that the government’s reserves and stabilization fund have replaced the prosecutor general and the Federal Security Service as the state’s most effective tool for seizing coveted companies. As a result, experts adept at orchestrating takeovers of debt-burdened companies through government bailout and buyout schemes have become more important than those who rely on trumped-up criminal charges to accomplish the same goal.