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First, Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, was outed by opposition blogger Alexei Navalny for renting a yacht in Sicily for $500,000 a week. Peskov’s denial was shot down by photos on social media. Navalny’s scandal reportings are often ignored, but this story went viral on Russian mainstream media sites, including RBC, Pravda.ru and others. Peskov was already under attack by Vedemosti for owning a $620,000 watch on his civil servant’s salary.
Second, Putin insider and target of Western sanctions, Vladimir Yakunin, in the first year of a five-year contract, announced he was resigning as head of the Russian railroad monopoly to become a senator for Kalingrad province. According to a source for Forbes Russia, “If the resignation is really taking place, this means that something very serious has taken place in the last few days.” Russian press reports emphasize that Yakunin has refused to disclose the sources of his income because such matters are not discussed in polite company. Anti-corruption blogger Navalny has filled in the blanks with a 14 page inventory of Yakunin’s properties, including his castle.
Third, “longtime (Putin) acquaintance (from childhood) businessman Gennady Timchenko” is the subject of a vicious hit job in the semiofficial newspaper Vedemosti. The article reports that Timchenko, “isolated from the Western world by sanctions,” can no longer visit his villa on the shores of Lake Geneva” in his Gulfstream G650 and has been reduced to living in the residence of former head of state Nikita Khrushchev. The Vedemosti article then runs through a long list of shady business partners doing business through nontransparent trading companies with Russian giants such Rosneft, Surgutneft and Transneft with which one “cannot deal without good relations at the highest levels.” The oil trading colossus Gunvor, half owned by Timchenko before the sanctions were imposed, plays a recurring role in the narrative. Notably, Putin’s clandestine ownership of Gunvor is purported to be the main source of his billions of dollars of wealth. Open discussions of Timchenko and Gunvor have previously been out of bounds in the mainstream Russian press.
Fourth, Putin’s former personal body guard and head of internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Victor Zolotov, has been subject to a media attack entitled “All Garbage in One Hut,” by a publication with strong ties to the security services. As in other cases, Zolotov’s extensive land, apartments, and other forms of wealth are disclosed in painful detail. The article ends with what is close to an indictment of his boss, Vladimir Putin: “If Putin’s former bodyguard managed to get rich in the civil service by more than a billion, what can we say about whom he was guarding? This is the case when silence–is gold.”
Although some argue that any new leadership coming from Politburo 2.0 would be as bad as Putin, Russian commentator Andrei Piontovsky begs to differ. He makes the claim that members of the Russian elite have been sending signals to the West that “everything will be resolved in the coming weeks.”
Read the whole article at: forbes.com
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Join date : 2015-06-09