Posted 23 августа 2021, 12:21

Published 23 августа 2021, 12:21

Modified 25 декабря 2022, 20:57

Updated 25 декабря 2022, 20:57

Fighting corruption and containing geopolitical adversaries are two different things

23 августа 2021, 12:21
Владислав Иноземцев
The anniversary of the poisoning of A. Navalny was marked by the arrival in Moscow of A. Merkel, who, according to rumors, even intended to achieve his release - and this high visit overshadowed the event on which the "Berlin patient" was betting: appearing in several leading European media articles on corruption.

Vladislav Inozemtsev, economist, sociologist

Article, I think, many have read it in Russian translation on the Ekho Moskvy radiostation website; at the center of it is the thesis that corruption should be perceived as one of the central global problems - as a problem of the first, not the second "row". Aleksey Anatolyevich rightly draws attention to the fact that in " Iraq / Afghanistan / Mali, the corrupt governments of al-Maliki / Karzai / Keita, by their theft, have turned the people away from themselves, opening the way to victory for radicals armed with slogans of fair and fair government." He is right when he says that the Western powers refuse to fight the "dirty money" stolen from the periphery - and this has a lot of evidence in relation to Russian corrupt officials and thieves, and not even those who are difficult for Western authorities to reach in Russia, but those who safely invested the stolen goods in European countries and settled there v as political refugees.

Article, but, written with one clear goal: A. Navalny wants to convince Western leaders to expand the range of sanctions against Russia - since in recent months it has become increasingly obvious that sanctions are not giving the desired effect, and Europe and America is about to "break" from its general anti-Kremlin "diet" and begin to improve relations with Moscow. Therefore, the main message of the article is a call to impose "individual sanctions against oligarchs, primarily those from Putin's entourage", since "in 90% of cases, the stolen goods are stored in the West," and the leaders of the "free world" it's time to "get out of the semantic captivity, where the label 'businessman' is an indulgence, strongly complicating hit v sanctions list". At first glance, this is a strong statement - but on closer examination, it seems to me, who in no way admire the Putin regime, erroneous.

The first such attempt - a letter to J. Biden - was undertaken by A. Navalny's associates at the end of winter, but did not bring any result. Now we see a run-around, which will also turn out to be empty - and not only because the West is pleased to accept money from the Third World, inflating the prices of London real estate and American stock assets. The problem is rather that the idea of Aleksey Anatolyevich is instrumentally wrong and cannot give the desired effect.

Soon after my letter to J. Biden, I wrote a lengthy article on this topic, which appeared in the spring in the German Internationale Politik and in the Chinese Caijing (弗拉吉 斯拉夫 伊诺杰姆切 夫 [Vladislav Inozemtsev]俄罗斯 寡头 大 变脸 [A big change in the face of Russian oligarchs],北京 [Beijing]:财经 杂志 属 财 讯 传媒 集团 [Caijing Magazine, Caixun Group Publishing], 2021, June 7, pp. 40–42) . Soon its Russian version will be published in the "Nezemtsev zapoved" (Inozemtsev, Vladislav. "A Possible Error in the Sanctions Policy" / Nezemistvenny Zapas , 2021, No. 4 [138]) . In this short retelling, I would venture to say that A. Navalny's idea is counterproductive for three main reasons.

First, Russia's "oligarchs" (or, say, the super-rich on the Forbes list of $ 123 billionaires) are not, for the most part, "Putin's wallets." 58 of them got rich before the current regime was strengthened (I take the Yukos affair as a "starting point"), and about 30 more have no special relation to the Russian government. Of course, R. Abramovich or A. Usmanov, not to mention G. Timchenko or A. Rotenberg, can be considered people close to the Kremlin, who have perfectly capitalized their connections. However, there are two "buts": on the one hand, most of them are the owners of legal states, which they have been declaring for years in accordance with Western practices - that is, prove that their money is clean; on the other hand, most of them are quite modern people with Western values, who would be only happy with the end of the power of the siloviki and the development of the country along the normal European path. Calling to get rid of them - largely due to the fact that the real pillars of the regime steal inside the country and are out of reach for ever new sanctions, A. Navalny suggests that Western leaders, in fact, "shoot" at their own agents of influence, and nothing more.

Secondly, A. Navalny is wrong in his statement about 90% of the assets hidden abroad. Yes, the Russian nouveau riche have a lot in Europe and America, but only 15-20 of 123 members of the Forbes list hold less than 50% of their assets in Russia . Moreover: for many years there has been a so-called. “Nationalization of the elites”, as a result of which the stolen goods are stored in our country and abroad. It was poor E. Skrynnik who was unsuccessfully caught on the fact that she had 65 million francs in her Swiss bank account - but her replacement, A. Tkachev, a dollar billionaire, invested his connections and funds in huge agricultural lands in southern Russia. The "nationalization of the elites," and nothing else, led to the fact that in Moscow began to meet apartments filled with hundreds of millions of dollars under the control of FSB colonels. This money - much more "black" than that of the oligarchs who arouse the wrath of A. Navalny - is just waiting to be used. And their owners applaud Alexei Anatolyevich: if the value of large Russian corporations falls 6-10 times, repeating the path of RusAl, which fell under the sanctions, they will all turn out to be a strong buy for the new Zakharchenko and Cherkalins. Whether such a change of ownership will become a step towards the beautiful Russia of the future does not seem obvious.

Thirdly, it seems to me that the idea of the omnipotence of the oligarchs is as anachronistic as the idea that their capital has long been withdrawn to the West. In fact, in the midst of big business there is no piety either to the seizure of the Crimea, or to "getting up from his knees", or to the restoration of the Soviet State Planning Committee. A.R. Belousov. Today, the paths of the Russian political elite and the Russian financial elite have diverged significantly. The first is more and more actively using the second in its own interests, but at the same time less and less responds to its calls or interests. The Kremlin of the early 2020s practically ignores economic arguments; he so completely controls everything that happens in the country that even the loss of several billion dollars on a perfectly disguised account in a western bank due to sanctions against its nominal owner can in no way motivate the owners of the Russian Federation to de-occupy Crimea, or, alas, even to release the author itself anti-corruption article. The oligarchs can be subject to sanctions, but only extremely naive people can expect from this change in the political course of Russia.

The problem is not that the sanctions "skating rink" should be re-targeted from small officials to big businessmen. Rather, it should be directed at the highest-ranking officials - but there are two problems that are quite obvious. On the one hand, Karzai and al-Maliki are unlikely to be held accountable in the West, since they are people who were put in their posts in the past by the authorities of the Western countries themselves. On the other hand, the Patrushevs and Bortnikovs will be constantly removed from sanctions and will fly to Washington, since Western politicians need representatives of a country like Russia. The fight against corruption and the containment of geopolitical adversaries are two different things. Yes, they are related, but not as obvious as it seems to A. Navalny. Therefore, in relation to Panama and Nigeria, Afghanistan and Ecuador, his recipes can certainly find their application, but in relation to Russia and China (and even, for example, Turkey or Saudi Arabia - probably not). And this must be borne in mind by both Western politicians and us, Russians...