In recent posts, inspired by a New York Times article and helped along by our well-informed friend Jess Kaplan, we’ve looked at Putin’s tightening grip on Russia. His power-grab has hardly confined itself to increasing restrictions on democracy, but has also, and arguably more dangerously for global stability and security, involved ruthless appropriation of major private industries, and use of this command of the energy sector as a bludgeon against his neighbors. This is mighty important stuff, but nobody seems to pay much attention. Why?
For me at least, part of the problem is that one has to have a taste, or at least an aptitude, for both finance and law to follow this story’s arcane involutions. It is a gruesomely complex tangle of characters and corporations, with a labyrinthine backstory of shifting government regulations and shadowy financial skulduggery. That it is of major global importance is beyond question — this consolidation of Russian economic and political power under Putin is arguably at least as significant a matter as the war in Iraq — but it certainly taxes me to get it all loaded into RAM at the same time, as it were, and I expect it has the same effect on others.
People are far more likely, in general, to get worked up over a hot war, or our own muddle-headed leadership, than something like this, which is the sort of thing that makes most people’s eyes glaze over. After all, “BUSH LIED!!!” or “NO BLOOD FOR OIL!!!!” is a lot easier to get your head round than “To The Wall Street Journal, however, Firtash conceded that Mogilevich’s wife had once held a stake in a company he controlled, the Cyprus-based Highrock Holdings Ltd. He told the WSJ he took over the stake once he learnt of the connection to Mogilevich and stressed Highrock had no connection to RosUkrEnergo or to its predecessor, Eural Trans Gas.”†. But it is surely worth the effort; this is important stuff here.
- † Here.