Staunton, November 7 – A Duma deputydrawing on a study by the Tax Justice Network says that almost 1.5 trillion USdollars have been illegally sent abroad by Russian businessmen and politicians,an amount, Igor Eidman says, represents “about 10,000 dollars stolen from everyRussian from babes in arms to the elderly.
The Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle says that works out to40,000 US dollars stolen from every family of four, an amount equal to the costof two foreign cars or of a small apartment, both of which are far beyond thereach of most Russians but not the thieving oligarchs (blog.newsru.com/article/07nov2018/lostmoney).
And that is only part of the moneythese people have stolen from their fellow citizens. They have sent even moreabroad via at least superficially legal ways or wasted it inside the country,Eidman continues.“It is difficult evento imagine such sums.” But Russians need to make the effort in order to understandwhat the Putin regime has done and is doing to them.
Another way to grasp what has beenhappening, he says, is to recognize that Russia has exported approximately 5.4trillion US dollars in natural resources since Putin came to power – an amountequal to 36,000 US dollars for every Russian and 144,000 US dollars for a familyof four.
In many resource-exportingcountries, the government ensures that some of the money earned goes back intothe pockets of the population. But not so in Russia, Eidman points out. “Russians,”he asks, “have you ever seen any of this money” or the many goods and servicesit could have bought instead of London townhouses and luxury yachts for the rich?
Two other articles today underscoredhis point. The first, a new Higher School of Economics studyreported that the level of social inequalityin Russia having fallen over the last dozen years is not on the rise once againas the result of inflation and the slow rate of increases in wages and salaries(rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/11/07/1744729.html).
And the second, byNakanune commentator Yevgeny Rychkov, brought together a series of horrificcomments by officials and the upper classes which show that an entiregeneration of elites has grown up whose members view themselves as entitled toeverything they have and more and the less well-off as nothing more as a burden(nakanune.ru/articles/114547/).
Such people clearly believe thatthey have the right to everything they can steal; and they will thus havelittle interest in stemming the outflow of Russia’s wealth or diverting it backto the population. The only change they will introduce, if given the chance, isto direct even more of this money into their own pockets and not those of theRussian people.