Is Crimea a Controversy to Cover Up the Sochi Bribes?
|April 18, 2014||Posted by Staff under Corruption, War / Peace|
This 2014 excerpt of the Washington Post, Mar 26, is by Kimberly Marten.
The timing of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to grab Crimea suggests that his motives may have had a diversionary twist. Putin may have been searching for something to take Russian minds off his own unfolding scandal when the Ukraine crisis fell into his lap.
Putin’s scandal was the corruption surrounding the Sochi Olympics. The construction costs associated with Sochi facilities and infrastructure exceeded $50 billion. Detailed and documented accusations about massive kickbacks and bribery have been published by Russian opposition figures Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk and Alexei Navalny, with damning evidence about a number of Putin’s close associates (like railway baron Vladimir Yakunin and Putin’s childhood judo buddy Arkady Rotenberg and his brother).
Putin made it very clear to everyone that the Sochi games were his highest priority, so no one in a position of authority would have dared to raise the corruption issue before the Olympics were over.
Russia’s economy is stagnating and corruption is to blame.
There are deep nationalist, historical, and triumphalist reasons for Putin’s Crimean adventure. But it is striking how little Putin gained. The region was subsidized by the rest of Ukraine, and he will now have to fund those subsidies out of the Russian budget. Russian generators are now keeping the Crimean capital of Simferopol lit, as Ukraine turns off the electricity flowing in from the mainland. Crimea does have a crucial Russian naval base, but Putin already controlled that base without needing to occupy Crimea, because of a treaty that lasted through 2042.
Putin’s Crimean adventure will further dampen Russian economic growth. NATO will turn its attention back to the European theater.
That Putin’s moves in Crimea do not really further Russia’s long-term interests indicates that something else is in play.
Ed. Notes: The trick that both politicians and magicians play: get people to look anywhere else but where their hands are doing their thing. Since people can be so easily misled from the deeper reality, what is it leading people away from seeing the power in the land? Seeing the difference between spending for things not made by anyone and things that others produce? The existence of society’s surplus which should be our common wealth? Once we know what is diverting people’s attention from how economies actually work, how work and wealth get divided, and how fortunes truly get made, then perhaps we can neuter that trick so it will never work again.