Those Russian officials who came out of the KGB have not struggled with the criminal world as they did with the Communist Party apparatus in the past, Vitaly Portnikov says. Instead, “they have preferred to become part of this criminal world because the main goals of the Chekists and the criminals – power and money – completely coincide.”
As a result, the Ukrainian commentator says, “all the rest — the slogans about ‘the Third Rome,’ rising from one’s knees, ‘sacred Crimea,’ and ‘Ukrainian fascists,’ all the adventures in Georgia, the Donbas or in Syria — are only a smokescreen designed to conceal from Russians and the rest of the world the simple and boring truth – Russia is ruled by bandits.”
And “not in the figurative and offensive meaning of this word,” Portnikov continues, but in actual fact, because Russians and others need to understand who specifically — not by name but by social origin — has driven Russia into collapse.
Indicative of the importance of this question are the appearance of new reports that cast doubt on the comfortable assumption that “power in Russia is in the hands of Chekists, people from the force structures, who were able to monopolize positions and money after the retirement of Boris Yeltsin.”
In fact, Portnikov says, Aleksey Navalny’s investigation of the criminal business ties of Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chayka show, the Chekist world and the criminal world are not at odds as many have thought but rather have become fused in a single grouping based on common values.
Navalny’s research reaches the same conclusion that two Spanish prosecutors, Jose Grindi and Juan Corrau, do about the fusion of power and crime in Russia. They report that this fusion began even before Putin came to power, and they name those who straddle what many had supposed was a divide.
On the basis of these findings, Portnikov says, one must conclude that “the Chekists did not begin to struggle with the criminal world as they had for years with the party apparatus.” Instead, those who came from the KGB and siloviki “preferred to become part of this criminal world.”
That is tragedy for Russia and a danger for the rest of the world because this criminalization of the state or the stratification of criminality means that the Kremlin can and does use criminal methods to advance its goals and the criminal world uses the state to advance its parallel ones.