Dec 4, 2010

The World Cup 2018 in Russia ruled by crooks, thugs and spies

American diplomats have lifted the lid on new, democratic Russia under Putin, painting an unvarnished picture of colossal corruption and brutal lawlessness, The Daily Mail wrote.

The material in diplomatic cables disclosed this week by WikiLeaks is worthy of the most fearless investigative journalist, journalist Edward Lucas suggests.

Russia is a mafia state, where the feared successor to the Soviet KGB, the FSB (as the Federal Security Service is known), wields vast power, operating as a state within a state in which the spoils of corruption have reached more than $ 400 billion a year.

The leaked cables allege "Putin might have enriched himself personally, possibly to the tune of billions of dollars".

As Russia celebrated winning its bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, these cables serve as a salutary reminder, the author believes.

"After the recent allegations of widespread bribe-taking and corruption among FIFA officials, it is surely fitting that the winning bid went to a country being looted and misruled by a cabal of crooks and spooks - perhaps the biggest and most powerful organized crime syndicate that the world has ever seen", the article says.

Lucas advised to discard any notion that Russia is heading for an era of reform or modernization under Medvedev. A comparison of Putin with Batman he calls "unfair on Batman, who is known for fighting crime, not benefiting from its proceeds". But a comparison with Robin, the author thinks "is quite fair to caricature the diminutive and ineffective Medvedev".

"We should remember it is the long-suffering people of Russia who are the greatest victims in this as their corrupt leaders fill their pockets. We should also bear in mind the plight of Russia's neighbors, such as our brave allies in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - as well as lonely Georgia, the only free-market democracy on Russia's southern fringe", the newspaper writes.

According to testimony of the author, who is one of the leading experts on Russia in the West, these countries have warned West about the dangers of the Russian criminal, xenophobic and authoritarian regime for years.

"Publicly we in the West have pooh-poohed their fear. Privately, if the evidence of these cables is anything to go by, we agreed with every word", Lucas suggests.

Russian corruption leaks abroad, "giving the hard men in Moscow the ability to cut deals and pull strings". That affects UK's future, security and freedom, Lucas warns.                          

Italy "is in Russia's grip, thanks to the extraordinary and personal ties between Putin and Berlusconi", the author says referring to the cables.

"Spain has become a hotbed of the Russian mafia", he continues. But British officials come out of these cables rather well, Lucas notices.

"The anger in British officialdom over the murder in London of the Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko, in which the FSB was complicit, is plainly recorded in the cables, too".

Lucas asks why the West still publicly maintains the pretense that the Russian government deserves to be treated as the civilized leadership of a normal country and not act on the basis of information from its own diplomats.

Why is the American administration pursuing a farcical "human rights dialogue" with its Russian counterparts - who are tarred as gangsters by their own diplomats? What did Peter Mandelson think he was doing taking hospitality on the yacht of Oleg Deripaska in 2008?, the specialist on Russia asks.

"The U.S. diplomatic service, having had access to truly secret intelligence, has come to an unambiguous conclusion in these cables. It believes the political system in Russia is rotten from top to bottom. It is greedy, lawless and brutal. And the malign influence of this is even seeping through our own front door", Lucas concluded.