Black Lists of the Russian Elite
12 July, 2012

Despite the summer – the holiday time – so many things are happening in the Russian political and social life that it is hardly possible to choose the most important story to write with the most long-term effect. Some days, news are coming too fast for the eye to follow on the screen of my PDA. Among the latest top stories I would definitely mention the new law about NGO-s, which will substantially complicate the activity of a countless number of non-commercial organizations, working in the spheres of medicine, civil rights, ecology etc. This new law, which already passed the first stage of approval in the Russian parliament, is a direct result of the phobia that Russian elite has towards the uncontrolled social life in Russia. Like the new version of the law about manifestations, which restricts people’s right for protest, this legislation should limit their desire to solve the problems, which the government does not want or is not able to resolve. Like the problem of medicine shortages to treat serious diseases such as cancer, which face even the clinics in Moscow and which the NGO-s can effectively handle.

 

One more story refers to so-called “Magnitsky list” of the American government. The US forbade 60 Russian citizens from this list to visit USA and initiated the arrest of their American accounts and property. All the members of the list are Russian public officials, involved, according to the Americans, in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky is the lawyer of the American Hermitage Capital Fund, who died in the Moscow isolation ward during the investigation of his law suit. Formally he was accused of helping his firm to avoid paying taxes. But his colleagues from Hermitage Capital are sure that the real cause of the arrest was personal investigation of Sergei Magnitsky, in which he found out the monstrous volume of corruption in the Russian law-enforcement system. According to this version, the exposures of this inquiry threatened the reputation and freedom of the highly-ranking corrupt officials. The press and Magnitsky’s colleagues widely discussed that his death in prison could have been directly caused by the improper treatment during the investigation, including tortures. But the inspection of the Russian authorities predictably did not prove it.

The American parliament decided to put a word in this case and punish the officials who are supposed by the US MPs to be guilty in Magnitsky’s death. I do not know the causes of this decision and whether it is defined only by the American humanism, but its effect on the Russian elite was volcanic! Giving the public comments, various Russian officials looked like resentful children, who cannot hide, how much they are offended. The speaker of the Russian Parliament Valentina Matvienko called the gesture of Amercians “a wildness” and announced, that Russia has a lot of ideas how to respond to such offense. Immediately after this the jokers started to laugh at the fact, that the Russian government cannot, unfortunately, arrest the Americans’ accounts, because they do not keep their money in Russian banks. All the hysterics of the elite shows: here it is – the Achilles’ heel of the Russian rulers, so accurately found by the US! Visas, accounts and property in the “brave western world”. They are addicted to the western life and the ability to spend the money in US and Europe. Russia is a place to make money, not to live in and enjoy the life, they suppose. Such a pity for them and for the country they try to rule. Just compare: will you have the same attitude to the apartment you rent and to the one, which you own? The Russian elite behaves now in their own country like in a rented flat – they use it and not build and equip...

And one more thing – to finish the pitiful picture of the several thousand people, who try to seem Russian elite and are subsisted, by the way, by the Russian tax-payers. At the end of June the St. Petersburg Economic Forum was held in the northern capital, where came a lot of businessman and politicians from Russia and from all over the world. The organizers of the forum shook the whole world this year! And not with the sum of contracts, signed during the forum – no! They shocked the public with the reception, held by the governor of the city Georgy Poltavchenko. Imagine the decorations of the imperial city and the number of VIP-persons, invited to the pathetic party. And amid the feast a big bath, where 4 children, standing up to their necks in water, are blowing little ships, pretending to be the gods of wind. This installation with the child actors should symbolize the foundation of St. Petersburg. I would say, this picture does not need comments at all, but needs a special black list of people who were the authors and supporters of this idea. It reminds me so much the court life of Anna Ioannovna – the Russian empress of the 18th century, notorious for her despotism, repressions, the power of secret police in the time of her governance and... the big extravagant balls,

often wild and cruel. The tough elite enjoy the way it is able to.