Russian beauty queen puts spotlight on Russia's official corruption
Her public denunciation of Russia's corruption surprised some this week. It also coincided with one of the Kremlin's periodic efforts to convince Russians that something is being done about it.
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Earlier this month Russia's defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, was dismissed after investigators implicated him in a massive kickback scheme that allegedly embezzled almost $100-million through improper sales of military-owned properties. Mr. Serdyukov has not been charged, but several of his subordinates are facing serious criminal allegations.Skip to next paragraph
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In October, Russian media reported that investigators were looking into the alleged theft of $427-million in the preparations for September's summit of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), which was hosted by Russia in the far eastern port of Vladivostok at a mind-boggling cost of $21-billion.
And last week the head of the presidential administration and another close Putin protege, Sergei Ivanov, admitted that more than $200-million had been misappropriated from Russia's ambitious Glonass space program, which Moscow hopes will become a full-scale satellite-based Russian alternative to the US GPS network and the European Union's future Galileo positioning system.
"The struggle against corruption was necessary because at some point it became clear to the leadership that corruption is a threat not only for the society but for authorities as well," says Kirill Kabanov, head of the nongovernmental National Anti-Corruption Committee.
"At some point of the development of the system it became clear that corruption is not a cement of bureaucracy but the system that is destroying the country. The situation has reached the boiling point. Corruption is a deadly threat to national security... For Putin it is necessary to prove that he controls the country. What we're seeing is not a struggle against corruption at some lower levels, but confrontation with corruption in specific sectors [of government]. One step leads to another, and makes it necessary to continue. Putin doesn't like to back off so I think he will go on with it," he adds.