It was the biggest journalistic leak in history. It documented the offshore dealings of officials around the world. And its reverberations are being felt from Iceland to China to Argentina.
But while the Panama Papers have taught us a lot about how the rich and powerful hide their money from tax collectors, and have already claimed the scalp of Iceland’s prime minister, in Russia they showed us something else entirely.
They’ve given us a glimpse of how Vladimir Putin’s regime plunders and launders state assets. They’ve highlighted the difference between corruption in the West, where it is a bug in the software, and in Russia, where it isn’t a bug, where it isn’t even a feature.
No, in Russia corruption is the software — it’s the country’s operating system.
On the new Power Vertical Podcast, I discuss this week’s bombshell with co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russian organized crime, and author of the blog In Moscow’s Shadows; and guest Karen Dawisha, director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at the University of Miami, Ohio, and author of the highly acclaimed book Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?
Also on the podcast, Mark, Karen, and I look at Putin’s reshuffle of the security services and his newly minted Praetorian Guard.