LIVE UPDATES: President Vladimir Putin has removed from Russia’s Security Council Viktor Ivanov, the former head of the Federal Narcotics Control Service, a close associate from his days in the KGB, and may tap him as deputy interior ministry.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Recent Analysis and Translations:
– Does it Matter if the Russian Opposition Stays United?
– Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Has Invented A Version Of History To Meet His Needs
– Getting The News From Chechnya â The Crackdown On Free Press You May Have Missed
– Aurangzeb, Putin, Realism and a Lesson from History
A dozen Tajiks were arrested last week who were claimed to be preparing a terrorist attack on the Victory Day celebrations May 9. But some were let go, some deported and just 4 arrested in the end.
Roman Anin, head of the investigative department at Novaya Gazeta who was involved in the Panama Papers from the start through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), writes of a dispute within ICIJ about whether to open up the files.
The journalists haven’t attempted to explain why so many of these companies were already closed by the time of the Panama leaks. Did these wealthy Russians have intelligence that they were exposed and that a leak may be coming even two or three years before it happened? What is more likely is that they took measures to protect themselves when President Vladimir Putin launched his “de-offshorization” campaign in 2013. Metalloinvest was among those firms that announced that they would stop using offshores.
Putin’s new regulations included a 30% tax increase for those who registered companies offshore and refused to show the beneficiaries, with a pledge to return the funds if the beneficiaries were revealed — a concept that sounded as if it might itself invite fraud. Andrew Bowen, writing for The Interpreter in 2013, said the campaign was more authoritarianism in disguise. Donald Jensen, writing for the Institute of Modern Russia, explained that Putin’s campaign was also designed to protect those who might wind up falling under the Magnitsky Act:
Putin had several motives behind his campaign. First, he wanted to send a population increasingly dissatisfied with his leadership the message that the Kremlin was fighting corruption. (Indeed, by the time of his speech, Putin had already moved against former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on corruption allegations.) Second, as political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya has pointed out, Putin wants legal weapons to use against an elite he increasingly does not trust. (There is thus little doubt he would use a foreign asset ban selectively.) Third, Putin’s call for the repatriation of assets would give legal cover to highly placed allies in his entourage, such as Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who may be vulnerable abroad to corruption charges, especially in the wake of the Magnitsky Act. Finally, as a leader who has become more nationalistic, Putin wants to require Russian officials to bring their money home from the West which is seen as increasingly hostile.
Last year, a pro-Kremlin blogger said Putin was failing at the effort because after some lobbying by the business community he ended up conceding that offshores could be recognized and authorized the legalization of irrevocable trusts.
In February, as we reported, Putin cautioned against new efforts to privatize state companies if they lead to offshorization and Moscow News reported that a quarter of Russian wealth would remain offshore as business people did not trust the government, particularly during the instability brought by the war on Ukraine.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The following headlines were taken from Gazeta, RBC, NovayaGazeta, RFERL, Svoboda, ABC, Kommersant, The Guardian, Vice, Politico, Washington Post, Noodle Remover, Meduza.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick