How much does it cost you to fill your tank now, by the way?
"Putin's Wealth: The Next Episode?
December 23, 2007 |
I first learned from Andy over at Siberian Light about the
press brouhaha over Putin's alleged $40 billion tucked away
in banks in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Intrigued, I set
my sights on said press accounts for the story.
Claims of Putin's hidden money bags comes from an interview
Stanislav Belkovsky recently gave to Die Welt. There
Belkovsky perhaps spells out the true nature of "Putinism,"
a nature that harks back to Andrei Pointkovsky's claim that
Putinism is "the highest stage of robber capitalism."
Indeed, except Russian capitalism is more like collective
thievery. Under Putin's tenure, says Belkovsky, "all the
interest groups are represented in the Kremlin. The people
who sit there are the direct advocates and co-owners of
large enterprises." Nothing new here. What is new is the
claim that Putin himself has reaped the spoils of Russia's
economic might. "Putin is a big businessman. He control 37
percent of Surgutneftegaz stock, which has a market value of
$20 billion. In addition, he contols 4.5 percent of Grazprom
stock. In the oil firm Gunvor Putin holds 50 percent more
than its founder Gennady Timchenko." In an interview with
the Guardian, Belkovsky claims that Putin's stake in Gunvor
is as high as 75 percent. However, the numbers are mostly
speculation since the paper trail confirming Putin's stash
has yet to be found.
If the estimates of Putin's wealth are believed, the $40
billion he has tucked away would instantly make him Europe's
wealthiest man. Moreover, if true, then the comparisons
between Mexico under the PRI and Russia under United Russia
might gain whole new resonance. Putin's fortune simply makes
him a Slavic caudillo equipped with all the benefits the
office bestows. As Robin Leach used to say in his signature
accent, "With champagne wishes and caviar dreams, these are
the lifestyles of the rich and famous!" [. . .]