Corruption and Institutions

On Monday this week the Moscow offices of Russia’s 7th richest man, Viktor Vekselberg, were raided by the authorities. Two of Vekselberg’s executives were arrested, and another former executive is wanted for questioning by Russia’s Investigative Committee.

The former executive, Mikhail Slobodin, was working for the mobile-carrier Vimpelcom until he was forced to resign this week due to the corruption allegations against him. He is currently abroad.

According to Bloomberg:

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Monday it detained two managers who were executives of power utility T Plus’s predecessor, KES Holding, in connection with suspicious payments of over 800 million rubles ($12.3 million) and that it was seeking Slobodin, who used to head the company.

The case is connected to the ongoing investigation into the previous governor of Komi and his associates, who were arrested nearly a year ago.

Investigators believe that in 2007 through 2014 the suspects bribed the officials currently involved in the criminal case against the Republic’s ex-head Vyacheslav Gaizer with money and other assets.

Anti-corruption activist Leonid Volkov had nothing nice to say, but essentially reiterated what I have said here previously. These people know the rules of the game, and they willingly play it.

They reformed RAO-UES [the country’s main electricity provider before it was reformed in 2008], they created the most innovative production and cool ventures — and at the same time they played a complicated game with the government behind the scenes, participated in non-transparent transactions and did not miss any opportunity to make money at [the expense of] the State.

And they didn’t think any further.

And now it is too late.

They have only themselves to blame.

Volkov received some criticism for his initial post about Slobodin because he later wrote:

Everybody is writing to me: “why do you speak about him this way, he is an intelligent man and a great manager.”

It is true.

But from the intelligent you demand more.

He continued:

How many times did the intelligent man Slobodin deliver a public sermon on “the need to quietly do our own thing, and not to get involved in politics?” And he is not alone, of course – there are a lot of these smart people.

How many times did the intelligent man Slobodin write and speak publicly about the fact that “we are working, we are not interested in politics”? Many times. In articles, on the blog,  in an interview… it was thought through. And he is not the only one, you can easily recall all the names of the few bright and successful entrepreneurs who hold the same position.

But it was NOT TRUE.

These so-called “smart people” knew that the economy depends on the quality of the political institutions, Volkov wrote.

They knew and they lied. They deceived themselves, and then they deceived others.

They did not involve themselves in politics, did not support anti-corruption activists, and this is the result, he says.


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