The corruption of mafia-like elite circles are the soft spot of post-Cold War authoritarian states, argues AEI analyst Clay R. Fuller. “All authoritarian states are kleptocracies because by definition, authoritarians maintain an artificial monopoly on the use of political power,” he contends.
“They support their absolute power by pillaging their own and others’ economies, using the loot to purchase the support of elites in militaries, political parties, connected families, and loyalists in governments at home and abroad,” Fuller adds, drawing on data from Freedom House (above).
A new website backed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky is publishing leaks of the “main beneficiaries” of Russian corruption, the AP adds:
Khodorkovsky’s new project, dubbed the Dossier Center, is billed as an investigative unit. Its website features a sprawling, interactive diagram of interconnected Russian officials described as the “main beneficiaries” of Russian corruption.
“We have no shortage of material we’re currently evaluating,” Khodorkovsky said, adding that the center gets its data from a series of anonymous digital drop boxes.
Under Putin, corruption became systematized and the new generation of oligarchs also went international, analyst Michael D. Weiss writes for The New York Review of Books:
“Putin runs the country based on trying to keep the rich people rich and compromised so that if they step out of line, he can crush them,” says John Sipher, a former CIA station chief in Moscow. The trick of this system is that the rich needn’t even be told that they’ve been compromised and that embarrassing details of their lives are kept in dossiers in the Lubyanka. The oligarchs simply assume that to be the case and act accordingly. The members of the Russian business elite are manipulated but uncontrolled assets whose outsize personalities and public profiles are best managed with a hands-off approach from the state.
“Look at [Yevgeny] Prigozhin,” Sipher adds, referring to an oligarch sanctioned by the US Treasury Department and indicted by the Justice Department for his sponsorship of the Internet Research Agency…… “He’s a restaraunteur but can’t just be a billionaire and keep going. When the state comes to him and says, ‘We need you to run these troll farms or mercenaries in Syria,’ he’s not being ordered to do it, but at the same time, he can’t say no.” ….
For the first time in over four years, Russia’s leading polling agency has found that the number of Russians who have positive views of the United States is greater than those who have negative views, The Washington Post reports:
The results, published Thursday by the independent Levada Center for Public Opinion, show a considerable increase in the number of Russians who said they generally felt good about the United States, while the number who felt bad dropped from almost 70 percent to 40 percent.