What these men share, besides staggering wealth and roots in St. Petersburg, is a connection to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who is poised to win a new six-year term as president in elections on Sunday. The three billionaires are members of a close circle of friends, relatives, associates, colleagues from the security services and longtime advisers who have grown fabulously wealthy during Mr. Putin’s 12 years as Russia’s paramount leader.
Critics say these relationships are evidence of deeply entrenched corruption, which they view as essentially government-sanctioned theft invariably connected to Russia’s abundant natural resources: gas, oil, minerals. This has become a persistent grievance of demonstrators who have staged four large street protests since December and are promising more after the election.
“The basic point is that these guys have benefited and made their fortunes through deals which involved state-controlled companies, which were operating under the direct control of government and the president,” said Vladimir S. Milov, a former deputy energy minister and now political opposition leader who has written several reports alleging corruption. “Certain personal close friends of Putin who were people of relatively moderate means before Putin came to power all of a sudden turned out to be billionaires.”
Read the entire New York Times article here
Edward Lucas´s article in the Mail is also worth reading:
For the past four years, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, and his sidekick Dmitry Medvedev, who has the nominal post of president, have been engaged in a huge propaganda operation to fool Russians and the West.
With much fanfare, they have pretended to reform their benighted land. Mr Medvedev denounced corruption, and they pretended to be friends with the West, particularly through a warming of their relations with the U.S. in 2009.
But this has been a sham to conceal the truth: that Russia is shamefully misruled.
The ruling former KGB regime has squandered tens of billions of pounds and missed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to modernise the country.
It has no real interest in friendship or co-operation with the West, whatever our gullible diplomats and officials may think. It wants to launder money in London, but not to adopt our values of liberty or the rule of law.