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Hail to the Thief: The New York Times Defends Mikhail Khodorkovsky - by Stephen Lendman
On October 25, 2003, Khodorkovsky (below called MK) was arrested for tax evasion and corruption, dating from when the Soviet Union dissolved and state privatizations followed. "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime," explained Honore de Balzac. Billionaire Russian oligarchs, like MK, illegitimately amassed great fortunes, avoiding prosecution during Yeltsin's tenure (1991 - 1999).
Beginning in 1991, various socio-economic measures were implemented without public discussion or parliamentary approval. Most important were Yeltsin's personal directives, creating a billionaire aristocracy handed the economy's most important, profitable sectors, free of charge - literally a license to loot.
Changes began slowly under Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, though not easily. The rot is so widespread and deep. Oligarchs like Boris Berezovsky fled to London, Moscow2, taking with them great fortunes. Others staying behind wish they'd after Medvedev announced during an October 2008 Council to Combat Corruption session that:
"Corruption in our nation has not simply become wide-scale. It has become a common, everyday phenomenon which characterizes the very life of our society. We are not simply talking about commonplace bribery. We are talking about a severe illness which is corroding the economy and corrupting all society."
As a result, prosecutions followed. Some 2009 examples against bureaucrats included:
-- Nevelsk Mayor Vladimir Pak's suspension and charge of embezzling 56 million rubles ($1.5 million);
-- two Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) Main Directorate officers detained on suspicion of accepting over $100,000 in bribes; and