- Russian pattern: oligarchs bloom – people are impoverished
- The task is to hide the money
- All the bumps fall on the government
Last week, one of the criminal cases initiated against the active opposition representative Alexei Navalny was considered. He himself considers all this a political revenge of the Kremlin. Meanwhile, the fortune of Russian billionaires, who, unlike Navalny, earn “honest work”, is growing. Not everyone is as calm as flourishing oligarchs – officials and deputies are in a panic – their offshore companies will have to be transferred to Russia, otherwise they can lose their bread jobs. For some reason, the president is also worried. The pearl of the week was the spy recording of the scuffle that Putin gave to the government without holding back his emotions.
According to the Criminal Code, Navalny can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. The defense of the accused achieved the postponement of the hearing on April 24 in order to obtain sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the case materials. In addition, the lawyers intend to obtain a consideration of this case in a Moscow court. During the Kirov meeting, a mass rally in support of the oppositionist took place in front of the courthouse.
Criminal cases rained down on Alexei Navalny as if from a cornucopia. Now his brother is also involved in the investigation, allegedly in collusion with the opposition.
In addition to the “forest case”, Alexei Navalny is charged with embezzlement of funds in the amount of 100 million rubles from the Union of Right Forces and organizing the illegal privatization of the Kirov alcohol production plant in another criminal proceeding. Also, as reported in the Investigative Committee, a case was opened on the embezzlement of funds from the “Multidisciplinary Processing Company”. Thus, MPK entered into an agreement with the “Main Subscription Agency”, controlled by Alexei Navalny, for the transportation of documentation.
According to the investigation, the agency, which did not directly transport the documentation, but turned out to be an intermediary, caused damage to the Multidisciplinary Processing Company in the amount of 3.8 million rubles, which were later wasted by transferring to the account of another Navalny company – Kobyakovskaya Wicker Factory participation of the oppositionist’s mother – Lyudmila Navalnaya.
The agency was recommended to the IPC by Navalny’s brother Oleg, who is also under suspicion. Oleg Navalny is a high-ranking manager at Russian Post and, according to the investigation, imposed the Main Subscription Agency on clients as a mail carrier. Similarly, 55 million rubles were received from the Yves Rocher company..
The Navalny case is not the only problem for Russian Post, whose management has led to a real collapse at Moscow airports. So, at the end of the week, the government decided to dismiss the head of Russian Post, Alexander Kiselev. On the same day, Friday, Dmitry Strashnov was appointed to this post, which is confirmed by the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications. Previously, Strashnov headed the telecommunications company Tele2 Russia Holding AB.
Alexander Dvorkovich is acting tough – an imprudent response led to the resignation of the head of Russian Post, who was replaced in one day.
The reason for the tough personnel reshuffle was the crisis situation associated with the fact that by April 9, about half a million tons of international parcels had accumulated on the territory of Moscow airports. Russian Post blamed the customs services for this, which did not accept the goods for inspection. The Federal Customs Service responded by saying that the Post Office does not take out parcels checked by customs, as a result of which the warehouses of the latter were literally packed, and the work of the service practically stopped.
At Sheremetyevo, the situation led to the fact that the airport administration banned the acceptance of international mail. The government, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Dvorkovich, intervened on April 15, instructing to eliminate the blockages from the parcels in three days. Kiselev had the imprudence to inform in writing that this would take a week. As a result, within a week, another decision was made – personnel.
Russian pattern: oligarchs bloom – people are impoverished
Even if the accusations against Navalny are supported by evidence, it seems that he is the only “plunderer” and a serious problem for the Russian authorities. As it becomes clear, the multibillionaires from the Russian Federation, who calmly increase their wealth, live in harmony with the law and earn fantastic money in an exceptionally honest way..
The incomes of the oligarchs, whom no one has brought to justice for a long time, are growing by leaps and bounds. So, on April 18, the Forbes ranking of the richest compatriots was published. According to the rating, since 2004 the wealth of the Russian wealthy has grown significantly. So, in 2004, to get into the top 100, it was required to have $ 210 million, now from $ 500 million you can only claim the top 200.
The total amount of funds of Russian oligarchs now stands at $ 488 billion, up $ 42 billion from last year. Alisher Usmanov, whose fortune is estimated at $ 17.6 billion, was recognized as the leader. The earnings of Gennady Timchenko, who received $ 5 billion last year, increased significantly, bringing the value of his assets to $ 14.1 billion..
The list of the richest people in Russia also includes the servants of the people: State Duma deputies – 10 people, representatives of the Legislative Assemblies – 4, governors – 2, deputy mayor – 1 and minister – 1. It is noteworthy that only one woman was included in the list of Russian billionaires – Elena Baturina, the wife of the ex-mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov with a fortune of $ 1.1 billion. The rest of the rich wives of officials will be discussed below..
The absence of a middle class, the division of the country into rich and poor – this tendency in the twenty-year history of the new Russian Federation seems to be only strengthening. The National Agency for Financial Research on Thursday released the results of a survey of ordinary Russians. 1.6 thousand people from 42 regions of the country were interviewed.
The income level of ordinary Russians is so low that many of them have already begun to consider savings of up to 15 thousand rubles..
The agency’s specialists were interested in the level of well-being of the average citizens of the country, based on what free amounts they can consider as savings. As it turned out, only 73% were able to name the specific amount of funds that they would attribute to savings, the rest would be happy with any, even a small amount, that can be postponed. So, a quarter of these 73% of respondents considered savings in the range of 15 thousand rubles, another quarter – from 50 to 100 thousand rubles. 18% consider the accumulated savings in the amount of more than 100 thousand rubles.
Unprotected sections of the population have nothing to oppose the regime. The law has now decided to hit the category of citizens that will become the most vulnerable in a couple of decades – future pensioners. Payers of pension contributions en masse go to non-state funds – experts came to this conclusion during the Pension Forum of Russia, which took place on April 18.
The point is that Vnesheconombank is the managing company of the state pension fund. The implementation of the government’s strategy for the development of the pension system for the period up to 2030 led to the fact that the profitability on pension savings at VEB fell from 6% to 2%. The remaining 4% will be evenly distributed among the total mass of future retirees.
Anna Gvozdenko, the head of the social development non-state pension fund, assumes that due to the fall in the profitability of savings in the current year, the number of payers of pension contributions who have abandoned VEB will amount to 10 million people, or 18% of its clients.
The task is to hide the money
One gets the impression that not ordinary current and future pensioners, simple hard workers and just low-income Russians, but rather billionaires, deputies, high-ranking civil servants, heads of state-owned companies – these are the categories that the authorities will be primarily concerned about. Because in essence it is concern, if not about yourself, then at least about your neighbors. At least, talk about the fate of wealthy people is heard in government offices much more often than worries about ordinary Russians.
Thus, one of the wealthiest government officials, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, expressed his displeasure with parliamentary initiatives aimed at banning the possession of foreign assets by deputies and civil servants. Shuvalov also made it clear that the indiscriminate persecution of wealthy officials and parliamentarians will lead to the fact that “there will be no one to work”.
Probably, the Deputy Prime Minister suggested that only wealthy people can perform their duties efficiently. Igor Shuvalov made such a statement at the Russia 2013 forum, which took place on April 18-19 in Moscow. However, the official was quick to reassure those present that he is currently in the process of transferring his family’s funds from the offshore zone in the Virgin Islands to Russia..
Shuvalov also expressed his opinion about the need for a tax amnesty, which will need to be applied to funds returned from abroad, which will allow wealthy civil servants to keep all the money they earn. For your information, last year Shuvalov earned more than 226 million rubles, or 40 times more than Vladimir Putin.
Shuvalov’s wife Olga also received substantial income – 222 million rubles. By the way, as the anti-corruption measures tighten, the wives of high-ranking officials and deputies begin to earn more than their husbands, judging by the submitted declarations..
As control over the funds of deputies and civil servants increases, the latter are taking all possible measures to hide their assets.
Less than their own wives earned in 2012, for example, such officials:
- Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Dvorkovich (whose wife received 78 million against 5.1 million rubles of her husband’s income);
- Sverdlovsk Governor Evgeny Kuyvashev (7.6 million versus 5 million rubles);
- Pskov Governor Andrey Turchak (15.91 million versus 1.32 million rubles);
- Governor of the Volgograd Region Sergey Bozhenov (55 million versus 3 million rubles);
- Vladivostok Duma deputy Dmitry Suleev (42.75 million versus 19.81 million rubles);
- Senator from Tatarstan Sergey Batin (3.92 million versus 2.18 million rubles);
- Deputy Moscow Mayor Pyotr Biryukov (14 million versus 5.5 million rubles);
- head of the Moscow department Georgy Golukhov (41 million versus 4.8 million rubles).
It is obvious (but, unfortunately, unprovable) that in most cases civil servants and deputies rewrite their business to relatives and continue to run it independently. Meanwhile, they formally limit their own income mainly to the sale of real estate..
The media reported that the State Duma deputies have gone even further in an effort to confuse the public, parliamentary commissions and the tax inspection. According to information in the press, shortly before the filing of declarations, about 30 State Duma deputies divorced their wives altogether. These data are preliminary and not yet confirmed..
Andrei Andreev, chairman of the ethics commission, said that the data on fictitious divorces, if confirmed, will certainly be made public, and appropriate measures will be taken. So far, only a statement about the concealment of his wife’s income by Vladimir Zhirinovsky has been made public, which the latter explained by the absence of a formal marriage (a wedding in a church).
Ilya Ponomarev, a member of Fair Russia, accused Zhirinovsky of a fictitious divorce without division of property. The official LDPR has so far limited itself to a counter-accusation of concealing income by Ponomarev himself, which has already been confirmed by Andrei Andreev, who announced Ponomarev’s colossal royalties in the amount of $ 750,000 received from the Skolkovo Foundation for 10 lectures given abroad. Law enforcement officers took up the matter.
It is clear that as the measures for the withdrawal of foreign funds to Russia are tightened, deputies and officials will further strengthen measures to hide their income. According to the Federal Tax Service, the number of citizens who have declared income over 1 billion rubles has been steadily decreasing since 2008.
So, over 6 years, the number of ruble billionaires has decreased from 67 to 15 people. These statistics have nothing to do with Forbes ratings, since the latter takes into account the amount of accumulated assets, and the FTS information is compiled based on the net income of taxpayers. The main source of income for billionaire individuals was the sale of assets. However, independent analysts consider such data to be biased, since the lion’s share of the oligarchs’ earnings passes through offshore structures..
According to Sergei Shoigu’s version, the blame for embezzlement in one of the cases of the Ministry of Defense lies with Vasilyeva and Co., while Serdyukov is not to blame for anything.
By the way, as for the most resonant case about the failed oligarchs who carried out billions of dollars in fraud in the Ministry of Defense, a new curious fact emerged last week. Sergei Shoigu introduced Anatoly Serdyukov, if not a victim, then at least an official not involved in the theft. So, the current Minister of Defense submitted a statement to the Investigative Committee, in which he asks to recognize the military department as an injured party in one of the cases of Oboronservis.
We are talking about the illegal sale of shares of the 31st State Institute for Special Construction. It is noteworthy that, according to Shoigu’s statement, former minister Anatoly Serdyukov was misled by the persons involved in the sensational criminal proceedings – Yevgeny Vasilyeva, Maxim Zakutailo and Ekaterina Smetanova.
The amount of the claim is just over 277 million rubles, which is proposed to be collected from the property of Ekaterina Vasilyeva, the former head of the property department of the Ministry of Defense, who is under house arrest.
Following Sergei Shoigu’s appeal, the Investigative Committee received a similar statement from Anatoly Shemet, a representative of the Department of Claims Work of the Ministry of Defense. The media notes that Shoigu and Shemet, for some unknown reason, submitted applications only on one of the fifteen facts considered in the framework of criminal proceedings for fraud in the Ministry of Defense.
All the bumps fall on the government
However, Dmitry Medvedev had the hardest time last week. He reported on the work of the government for the year in the State Duma. It is obvious that the prime minister’s speech was accompanied by criticism from the opposition forces. At least, the opposition raised the issue of mistrust in Education Minister Dmitry Livanov especially sharply..
According to information that appeared in the press on April 19, Dmitry Livanov, the Minister of Education of the Russian Federation, may be expelled from United Russia due to the discrediting of the party’s image by the latter. As reported, the discussion of this issue by party activists took place on April 17, but no official confirmation was received..
This happened on the same day, when in the State Duma Dmitry Medvedev, during a report on the work done by the government for a year, had to defend Livanov from accusations by the opposition demanding the minister’s resignation. Natalya Timakova, Medvedev’s press secretary, said that she was unaware of plans to expel Dmitry Livanov from United Russia. Vladimir Burmatov, a member of United Russia, did not confirm the rumors either, saying that the information in the media does not correspond to reality..
As for Dmitry Medvedev, he skillfully parried opposition attacks and diplomatically turned the conversation into a completely different direction, touching on a topic that has recently become popular among deputies – drunk drivers. During his speech, he proposed to consider the issue of establishing the alcohol concentration of vehicle drivers, taking into account the error of measuring instruments.
Thus, the prime minister said that it is necessary to introduce a norm that assumes the permissible concentration of alcohol, measured by the instruments, at the level of 0.1 ppm, which is within the limits of the passport error of breathalyzers. Earlier, until 2010, the blood alcohol content was allowed up to 0.3 ppm, and a complete ban on alcohol completely excluded this norm. By the way, abroad the permissible concentration level is up to 0.8 ppm, however, the legal requirements in different countries differ – for example, in Norway and Sweden a maximum of 0.2 ppm is allowed.
Spy video of Vladimir Putin’s speech at a closed meeting in Kalmykia became a hit and caused a negative reaction from the Kremlin.
The government also got it from Vladimir Putin, and the spread went beyond the confines of the advisory office and became the property of the press. It is unlikely that the offsite meeting that the president held on April 16 in Elista (Kalmykia) would have become so widely discussed in the media. The reason for the high popularity of the meeting devoted to the problem of dilapidated housing was Putin’s two-minute speech at the closed part of the meeting.
Whether by accident or arbitrary, the operator of the Life News agency, despite the request of the country’s president, left his camera on, which made it possible to record Vladimir Putin’s address to those present. In the hall, by the way, top managers gathered, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Minister of Regional Development Igor Slyunyaev, heads of Kalmykia, Buryatia, Astrakhan and Tula regions.
On the recording, one can clearly hear that the president in a rather harsh manner scolds for serious shortcomings in the work on the problems of dilapidated housing, while hinting at the adoption of appropriate personnel decisions. According to Life News, the criticism was directed at the government. The head of the presidential press service Dmitry Peskov denied this statement, while admitting the accuracy of the record.
Peskov noted that the president’s words were addressed to the governors, but not to government officials. In turn, the executive director of News Media Ashot Gabrelyanov insists that the agency’s journalists understood Putin’s address correctly, that is, the president addressed the criticism to the government. The Kremlin believes that filming the president during a closed meeting is unethical, and such actions can at least destroy the authorities’ confidence in the press..
It seems that the president’s entourage still cannot understand that he should worry about a completely different trust – the people’s faith in the country’s leadership. And the citizens of Russia, of course, have the right to know what the president, government and officials are talking about, even if behind closed doors. The actions and deeds of the authorities in any case should be transparent, because in their hands is the life, health and future of the state.