Vladimir Putin’s very bad week
It has been a difficult week for the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. The European Union imposed sanctions under Euro-Magnitsky; Australia should adopt its own Aussie-Magnitsky; and imprisoned anti-corruption crusader, Alexei Navalny, leads a growing Russian protest movement behind bars. Oh yes, Pussy Riot is back!
Putin is considered the richest man in the world for the amount of wealth he controls, not the amount he owns. Alexei Navalny is considered the bravest man in the world on his return to Russia after recovering from poisoning in Novichok, Germany. Putin hijacked Navalny’s return flight to avoid crowds of protesters, then arrested Navalny at the airport.
Never lacking a certain Russian sense of humor, Putin accused Navalny, whom he calls “the blogger,” of violating parole while in a coma being treated for poisoning in Novichok in a German hospital. Navalny, not missing a beat, began to refer to Putin as “Vlad the panty poisoner” after Navalny tricked a russian intelligence agent by revealing how the lethal nerve agent was administered.
Navalny threw his next trap while in custody. He released a video documentary titled “Putin’s Palace” about a billion dollar private estate on the Baltic Sea built by Russian taxpayers and given to Putin as a gift. Of course, Putin doesn’t own anything; he controls everything. It took him a few weeks to create a original fairy tale for his palate. The Russians are not fools. They know corruption when they see it.
They know, for example, that when President Vladimir Putin decided to exercise control over the hedge fund Hermitage Capital in 2008, siphon off $ 230 million in tax payments and beating the company’s 37-year-old accountant to death after a year in prison, which he did not die trying to escape. The Russians are not fools. The name of the accountant was Sergei Magnitsky. In death, he became one of the most famous Russians in history.
Magnitsky’s death could be the start of Putin’s end, just like the death of Jamal Khashoggi could be the loss of Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who ordered the murder and dismemberment of the journalist at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Magnitsky’s death turned Bill browder, Magnitsky’s employer, from an investment banker to a killer of oligarchs.
Browder developed legislation often described as “surgically precise” because of its ability to create sanctions that hit the oligarch, not the people. These sanctions apply to individuals and not to countries. They should lead to the freezing of assets held by sanctioned persons in the sanctioned country, as well as the prohibition of financial transactions involving sanctioned persons and the refusal of entry into the country.
These are a lot of words to say that Putin and his friends can no longer pay cash for Trump Tower condos to launder the hundreds of millions looted from Hermitage and similar businesses. Now they have to build things nationally, like Putin’s palace or yachts or rockets, to launder all the loot. Russia responded to sanctions in 2012 by ban the adoption of russian babies by American families.
The first thing President Vladimir Putin expected from his massive investment in Donald J. Trump was the elimination of the Magnitsky Law. This is what the infamous Trump Tower Meeting June 9, 2016, that was it. Don Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner met with representatives from Moscow to discuss “Russian adoptions”, Magnitsky sanctions code.
Trump tried to unilaterally remove Magnitsky sanctions the first week of his presidency. Horrified, Congress passed a law giving it the power to reverse any sanctions relief promulgated by the president. This did not prevent Donald Trump from lifting the sanctions against Russian oligarch and supporter of Mitch McConnel, Oleg Deripaska.
Russia responded with welcome of seven Republican American senators in Moscow on July 4, 2018. Four months to the day, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in the UK, I told you Putin has a sense of humor. In 2020, the UK passed its own version of the Magnitsky Law, much to Vladimir Putin’s dismay, and used it to sanction both the Russians and the Saud.
Putin was really amazed when the 28 voting countries of the European Union have agreed to adopt Euro-Magnitsky in 2020. He couldn’t even build muscle or buy Hungary. This week, Putin’s life got much worse when the 28 EU countries voted unanimously to impose these sanctions on individuals in Russia involved in the poisoning of Navalny and the suppression of subsequent protests.
Putin called the EU bluff, expel three diplomats from the EU from Russia during a visit by EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell on 5 February. Putin’s pugnacious Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke with disapproval of the EU at a press conference right next to the humiliated minister. This is the same Lavrov seen laughing in a famous white house photo with US President Donald J. Trump the day after Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey.
As the EU suddenly votes 28-0 against Russia, Joe Biden proclaiming “America is back”, and with Tony Blinken promising that Russia must pay for SolarWinds’ recent cyberattack on the United States, Vlad the Underpants Poisoner must feel his memories grow uncomfortable. comfortable.
As Putin desperately tries to evade the sanctions that surround him and his oligarch friends, he faces the ultimate decline in his fortune: the New Green Deal. The majority of Putin’s wealth is still in the ground, and it’s worthless if the world is turning away from fossil fuels as fast as it seems. Without the NORD-2 pipeline that carries gas from Russia to Germany, without the corrupt contracts to supply satellite countries with fuel, Russia has nothing to sell except tourism and nesting dolls.
Putin will face the same problem as the Arab Spring countries: the country’s young people realizing their future are nothing like the life they see on their phones. The Russian people are not stupid. They know that they do not enjoy the same quality of life as their European neighbors. Even if Western democracies fail to meet basic living needs, they are at least exciting and offer the possibility of getting insanely wealthy.
There is no right path for Putin. The prisons are already full and the protests have barely started. In Moscow, Putin projects the force, but in the outskirts, he has little support and little control. Protesters are much smarter and more organized than brute force protesters. They also have a sense of humor. It looks like he’s going to have to find a safe way to disappear into his palace and hand the bankrupt Petrostat over to a new wave of Russian leaders. Cue Pussy Riot!