By Paul Goble
“Thanks to Putin and his corrupt entourage, Russia today has become a colony,” albeit one very different from the colonies of the past but one whose real position cannot forever be concealed by the Kremlin’s “anti-American” propaganda, according to Petr Filippov.
In Yezhednevny zhurnal, the St. Petersburg commentator says that many Russians do not understand this reality and thus accept Putin’s efforts to place all the blame for the situation Russia now finds itself in on the West in general and the US in particular (ej.ru/?a=note&id=31979).
They are even more inclined to do so because “the current form of colonialism” is very different from the two in the past, the colonialism of direct territorial conquest that came to an end in the middle of the last century in most places and the neo-colonialism that followed in which the metropolitan countries kept their former colonies in thrall by bank credits.
The colonialism Russia finds itself trapped in, however, is different. It has arisen because “the ruling thieving elites of Russia and other backward countries have become partners and representatives of the colonizers.” While the first form of colonialism depended on military force and the second on financial power, the third is based on “the corruption of national elites.”
As a result of this arrangement, Filippov says, “Russians today are enriching by their taxes the banks of the US and Europe but only a small portion of them understand this.” Russian elites can’t guarantee their own people a standard of living approaching that in the West, but they want to enjoy it for themselves.
And because in Russia, “there is no supremacy of law and democratic control on the actions of the authorities, the wealth of these elites as a rule has a rentier corrupt origin.” It is always at risk of being confiscated as a result of political change, and so those who possess it seek to keep it beyond the reach of the Kremlin.
As a result, between “the corrupt elites” of countries like Russia “and international financial centers have arisen mutually profitable ties,” in which the former dispatch “about a trillion US dollars a year” to the latter and organizations like FATF and Transparency International don’t take note of this process in their reports.
That makes what the US Congress has mandated so important, the commentator continues, because the key to overcoming corruption in Russia “must be sought not only in [Russia] but also in the US and Europe and in international agreements about the struggle with corruption and the sheltering of stolen assets.”
“Only in this way can we break out of the embrace of neo-colonialism,” Filippov says. Unfortunately, he continues, “in Russia it is customary to accuse the US and Europe and also the reformers, liberals, and ‘foreign agents’ for all out misfortunes,” thus eliminating any responsibility for our own shortcomings and passivity.
The arrangements “which have given rise to systemic corruption, the forcible seizing of businesses and illegality can exist only while society is stupefied by illusions and remains indifferent to the real problems in the economy, education and medicine,” the commentator continues.
Now, there is some hope that new activism among Russian young people and the efforts of Aleksey Navalny to point to corruption will combine with the American sanctions program to give Russia a new chance to escape from this third and generally unrecognized form of colonial dependence.