In my latest article for RT, which you can read here, I discuss Russia’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights, and the possibility that Russia will quit the Council of Europe so as to withdraw itself from the court’s jurisdiction. I argue that it would be a shame if Russia did decide to do this. The evidence does not suggest that the court is biased against Russia, and many Russians have benefitted from it being there to protect their rights. I suggest that,
The problem with a number of Russian leaders, throughout history, is that they have tended to want to make their subordinates accountable to the law, while at the same time not wanting the same accountability to apply to themselves.
I conclude that Russian president Vladimir Putin should avoid going down the same path himself.
Of course, many people think that he went down that path long ago, and I was interested to see a couple of pieces this week that also address issues of the rule of law in Russia.
The first is an NBC News interview with exiled billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In this Khodorkovsky says, ‘Putin is a typical mafia godfather, a typical head of a crime syndicate.’
The second is a piece in Meduza that discusses liberal economic reform during Putin’s first presidency, and in particular the role of two important officials, Alexei Kudrin and Herman Gref. The article reports the following:
Kudrin and Gref pushed for new things like a tax of mineral mining. According to Gref, major oil companies were not happy with the proposal. He says that a representative of the company Yukos approached him on the night before the new law was to be discussed by the Duma and told him that they’d made an agreement with all of the deputies. As a result, the ministers were given a choice: they could either not take the proposal to parliament, or they could ‘be taken out [feet first]’. … Gref called Kudrin and found out that he’d also been visited and threatened. … In the end the legislation failed miserably.
So, who was it who owned this oil company, Yukos, which suborned parliamentary deputies and threatened senior officials? Well, golly gosh, it was none other than Khodorkovsky, the same man who accuses Putin of being a ‘mafia godfather.’
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.