Pretty amazing how people show up to fight and get themselves killed on principle in situations like this.
Like the old saying goes when you extort someone make sure it won’t be cheaper to kill you than to pay you.
I think what is amazing is that people show up to fight at all, I don’t think most people can comprehend just how much power a billion dollars can buy you not to mention a multiple of that.
I’m honestly confused by the real status of their economy.
If you don't see the poor pensioners and other people in the remote corners of the country and only see those who can afford to take weekend shopping trips to NY, you might get the impression that the economy is doing ok.
From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Russia
> One study estimates that "the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia."
There is your average run of the mill wealth inequality and then there is the Russian level of wealth inequality in its own special category.
When I first returned to Russia 8 years later in 2016, it was a completely different country, it wasn't the Russia I knew at all. Best way to call how it felt was "North Korea with Starbuckses"
The median net income in China has long surpassed that of Russia, and that holds even if you include China's decaying rural regions. If you exclude them, and hold the assumption that Chinese taxes don't simply disappear in thin air, it really begins to look dire.
I think we can assume that inside this economy, theft significantly north of 0.01% is taking place. For reference my partner ran a small independent bookshop and she worked on 1% theft of stock as a rough model. For "theft" read "oh I dropped it in a puddle, the book is now filthy and unsellable, I shall keep it and use it for .. nevermind"
Tax compliance in Greece was figured at below 50%. Tax -avoidance- [edit: wrong. evasion] (not tax minimisation) is theft from the state. If a modern western economy inside the EU has less than 50% compliance on tax, what do you think the post SU states have?
What is the value of an illegally exported tank? Barrel of oil? A Tonne of industrial diamonds? Cobalt? If you lived in an economy which was so physically large most of its visible ocean borders were probably un visited 99% of the time, and you had a megatonne of industrial diamonds.. what would you do?
Tax avoidance is OK. It's tax evasion that's illegal.
I can believe that 50% of, say independent handymen contractors may have been swindling the government of some part of their taxes.
I have a much harder time to believe that 50% of the entire population was. (Especially given that ~50% of the population - children, pensioners, and the unemployed, aren't even supposed to pay much in the way of taxes.)
20% of your economy operating untaxed is a big problem - but is not an order of magnitude off from 10% (Which seems to be the baseline for a highly tax-compliant nation.)
Either way, it's a far cry from what one might assume from an uncritical reading of a "Half of Greece isn't paying taxes" headline.
There is some tension in society, and we're trying to fix it from the bottom (with no too much luck though).
There are 144.5 million Russians. Even if individually they are poor the country can be very rich.
Also is the matter of illegal arms sales and break of international embargos. You can sell your gas or weapons to countries that you have signed treaties not to. That is a lot of money that is not part of your legal economy but can surface anywhere in the world.
High wealth inequality also makes this a more acute problem. A few people have a lot of money to spend in lobbying and luxury while most of the population lives in relative poverty.
The economy is heavily linked to oil and gas prices. This is a sort of "specialization" of the country - with exception of arms and some space tech, other sectors of economy are in rather modest shape. Recent estimate was that productivity is behind leading countries by a few decades (e.g. as it was in US in 1980-s).
a very mild by Russian corruption standards - everything in the open with US government and the US Big Space involvement and with no black money/crime/etc - deal illustrating how good profits/cash are separated and, no laundering needed, placed into US while expenses/losses are left with Russia economy :
Economy is the money circulating in within the country. Wages, sales, investments.
Assets and funds that should have found their way into the public coffers were given away or 'sold off' in an obscene case of plutocrats plundering the wealth of the people.
The beneficiaries of this massive transfer of wealth are now the ruling class of Russia. They're no better than gangsters.
Russians are poor, but their 'leaders' are rich beyond imagination, and it was all stolen from the people they are supposed to be serving.
Russia is the embodiment of modern kleptocracy.
2. What is absent (surprisingly, if you're naive), both in this publication and in general regarding the topic, is the relationship between Russian oligarchs, their rise to power after the collapse of the USSR, and the assistance they got from mostly foreign/US "advisers", "investors" and "businessmen". All of which were eager to at least make as much profit from the chaos, and probably had full blessing of the US government to corrupt Russia as much as they could.
3. Somehow, the foreign individuals who played key roles in creating the Russian "reality" as it exists today, just happen to (mostly) stay out of view in every publication. That some of these individuals are themselves under investigation in Russia, some of which lost much of their "gains" made in Russia, and now some of the most vocal driving factors behind the current anti-Russia rhetoric/hysteria in the USA, can of course be all just coincidence.
4. Looking at the list of supporting organizations on the OCCRP's web site, it would be rather extraordinary if this publication does not have a political bias, since many of these supporters have rather blatantly open political agendas (with some of them at least being suspect of being criminal organizations in their own right).
5. What if this publication is first and foremost a political chess move, in a large scale turf war between competing criminal organizations? All of which are effectively outside the reach of legal scrutiny. I do not claim that this is the case, but it might be worth considering.
It is not a bad thing in and of itself to have a political agenda, so long as it's overt.
I agree that there isn't anything wrong with a political agenda (as long as it is overt), but that's exactly the problem here. Many of the OCCRP supporters are know for officially pretending to be non-political, yet having track records to the contrary.
It's entirely possible the the OCCRP itself is not aware of whatever political agenda they may serve. From their perspective, any exposed crime might be a good thing (and I agree with that).
However, it is the absence of information I would expect to be part of their data/investigation (as was the case with their Panama Papers), that makes me suspicious of the real goals behind this operation (which might go way beyond the awareness of OCCRP itself).
Our organisation has a simple goal: uncovering what happened in places where that does not happen much. That can only ever be done partially (which opens any news media up to accusations of bias - often justified). But I think it's a worthwhile thing to do.
Please don't think that people at OCCRP are unaware that they are acting in a political context. Working there for the past few years, I've become more and more convinced that our reporters and editors are controlled by strong professional ethics and a real desire to get the deeper levels of a story.
Money-wise: I'd love for us to be funded by non-political funds. Can you name any? We do a niche thing that is extremely expensive, advertising and subscriptions don't give us a workable math.
As someone that is a lot more familiar with the situation, Russian elite didn't need help to be corrupted. They were already corrupted to the core.
I do not claim that it was not the Russian elite that did this to their own country (I believe they did). But without the foreign support/facilitation, it may never have gone as far and "successful" as it did.
In general, because Russia is definitely not the only country that suffers from this phenomenon, the success and perseverance of this kind of kleptocracy usually leans a lot on cross-border assistance/facilitation. Without it, people would actually have a change to do something about it. But in reality, they often do not (as in Russia).
What are the blatantly open political agendas of those supporters? I'm asking seriously. All seem to be about human rights and civic societies and so forth.
Whilst I have no doubt it has done some good stuff, it's also been directly involved in funding attempts at regime change. This usually done under the guise of promoting democracy – often in places that were once US puppet-states.
It's interesting that the US speaks of promoting democracy, when it is fiercely supportive of some of the least democratic states.
If USAID's plans would be so widely supported by the US taxpayer, words like "discreetly"  should not need to be used.
That is indeed what it says on the label, doesn't it?
Yet, most (if not all) of the supporters hail from countries that have an active (some may argue: notoriously aggressive) foreign policy towards Russia. At best, they all belong to a group of countries that (especially in recent years) has been known to be far from balanced and unbiased (regarding anything but their own interests, international law and human rights included).
Maybe (even) more telling, what's missing are the organizations from countries that do not belong to this "front against Russia" group of countries.
While most of these organizations claim to be independent of their host country's governments, many of them have a proven track record of going beyond their stated mandate, and actively promote (or even force) the political foreign policies of their host country, often under the guise of "humanitarian aid" or spreading "freedom and democracy". (use Google; it's not rocket science)
Just as a practical example (already mentioned partially by somebody else), USAID is supposed to be an independent organization, yet it operates subject to the guidance of the US President, Secretary of State, and the National Security Council. Can somebody open a dictionary and search for the meaning of "independent"?
I can/will not blame anybody for not believing me (fair enough), for I will not give specifics. But I have personally witnessed several of these organizations doing things (in particular in the South-East of Europe) that would get them into (legal) trouble if they would do the same "at home". At least on a personal level, that is enough for me to be suspicious about the real motives of these organizations. Maybe not so much regarding their volunteers, which I believe have (mostly) good (but often misguides/arrogant/brainwashed) intentions, but regarding the higher-up management, I am far less positive.
What supporting material can you link to?
Guess sanctions only impact the poor...
It's an awesome read - and very interesting. It's written by the guy who used to run the biggest investment fund in Russia and was quite an activist. Later, he and his lawyers uncovered a massive tax fraud scheme, involving a lot of important people - he became number 1 enemy there. One of the lawyers - Magnitsky, got imprisoned for several month, then beaten to death there. He (Browder) now spend his time trying to uncover more of the abuses in Russia (the recent wave of investigation into European banks is one of the fruits of his work).
The book is mind boggling.
As far as I can tell, the data for this investigation is not (yet?) accessible. https://www.occrp.org/en/troikalaundromat/about-the-data has some information about it, and includes an address to contact for journalists who want to gain access.
The leaked info seems to consist of bank statements. It's unlikely that any bank conducts illegal transactions only, so it is understandable that they cannot release the data to the public without harming lots of legitimate customers.
That's a platform designed for journalists that indeed contains a lot of scraped data and leaks. It cross-references them, so you can type in a name of the person/company and see the data points mentioning them. Some of the investigations got started precisely because journalists were able to use it to see a connection you can't see otherwise. It handles all the quirkiness that arises from dealing with different alphabets, and it accounts for multiple ways you could type a name from a different alphabet into Latin.
The administrators of it manage who gets to see which data sets for obvious reasons. Knowing nothing about this specific investigation, I assume that the data is currently only accessible to the pre-approved journalists (that work on this investigation).
The code of the tool is available on GitHub, and if you happen to stumble upon a security issue: https://www.occrp.org/en/responsible-disclosure
We're working on it. There's a whole back log of reporting that people have invested months into doing, we'll successively push out parts of the data once those stories are getting published.
but it seems my understanding of how links get promoted is incorrect. When submitting links that have been shared hours/days (or sometimes weeks) before, then the submit usually takes me straight to the page of the original poster. It seems that there is a limit of how many links can be on the frontpage by a given user or something (but that too doesn't seem right considering that in Dec I had 4 links on the FP top 30 on the same day).
For long time I thought I understood this site but now it's clear to me I know nothing :)
That is a quite significant part of the newly built homes in the hot spot cities.
What would you think if Russia did this to your country? Supported the oligarchs in your country... to make you see the error of your ways?
Btw west itself is not Liberal Democrat.
Checkout Russian Liberal democrat Vladimir Zhirinovsky you'll see how different Russia is from West.
I feel like you expect a western solution to a Russian problem.
Im dont expect everyone agree with me, but to me it seems like this problem needs some extreme (not normal) approach
The west has a terrible history of implementing these kind of self defeating, counter productive Strongman strengthening policies (e.g. Putin is largely result of the west supporting with Yeltsin), which is what I think would happen if you were to "teach the people a lesson" which if I'm not reading you wrong, seems to me, what you are suggesting.
Also, the question stands, what do you think the effect of your suggestion on the average Russian? Do you think they will see things your way, or will they (in some sense rightly) see this as patronising interference. How would a western person see it if Russia were to do this to their country?
> At some point Russian people have to stand up for themselves.
Very few will ever stand for themselves, and much less for others. It's hard to shed blood and stand for ingrate whining pissants, when you know that the next day they will vote in a new Putin.
I have no solution to ~85% of Russian electorate simply voting for a man promising more free sausages.
Russia is irreformable. Only the most dramatic events will change that.
Me myself being of Russian decent i can tell that Russia either has to become a bunch of different countries (Dagestan, Chechnya, Altai and etc) or it can only function under Communist regime. Its just that human nature and culture is weird, selfish and with no empathy. Look at their religious leaders for example its disgusting
Kinda like "don't help poor people, you're just ruining their motivation"??
Fraud and money laundering should be blamed on the people doing the fraud and the money laundering.
However, there's no reason we can't also blame facilitators of fraud and money laundering for facilitating crime.
A pawn shop can be a totally legitimate business. And thieves should be blamed for their thefts. But if a pawn shop is profiting from moving stolen goods, that is also wrong. When asking "who's to blame?" between the thief and the fence, there's nothing stopping us from saying "both".
It's correct to blame crimes on the bad guys. Theft and fraud are actual crimes with actual victims. Money laundering is a non-crime, and the rest of us shouldn't have to suffer an authoritarian financial system just because some people commit crimes.
Banks should provide a dumb service like phone companies do. It wouldn't be reasonable for the phone company to interrogate you about why you're making so many late-night phonecalls, and it's not reasonable for the bank to interrogate you about why you're depositing so much legal tender.
While I can understand valuing and protecting financial privacy, I fail to see how you can see Troika Dialog as blameless here.
In general, financial privacy must be balanced against financial transparency and enforcement. Tax evasion, embezzlement, bribery and other financial crimes come with significant costs to society.
You can't justify at all how anal are the banking regulations towards individuals, when bank owners are allowed an effective anonymity and life free of state intrusion.
Today's AML mass hysteria is not much different from the terrorism "security theatre" – completely ineffectual
I don't agree with this, by definition of ML as illegal operation as made with illegal money.
By that logic, a Ponzi scheme would also a "non-crime," since in both cases there's "real money", and in both cases someone is lying (i.e. committing fraud) about the details of its flow.
Burning the body isn't a crime either? He was already dead, so it's OK.
Why instead of, and not in addition to?
The fines are a pittance compared to the money made. Basel II seems to have had little effect on this behavior.
If you are hoping that I would reveal some internal information I will leave you disappointed.
from July 2012
 FBI: Drug Cartels use Bank of America to Launder Money
and Nov 2018...
 Deutsche Bank, BofA, JPM Drawn into Danske Money Laundering Probe
Both make for good reading...
> Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) is no stranger to paying fines. According to data compiled by investment firm Keefe, Bruyette and Woods Inc., the Brian Moynihan-led company has shelled out the most money in fines over the years, especially in the time span following the 2008 financial crisis.
> “Bank of America Merrill Lynch went to astonishing lengths to defraud its own institutional clients about who was seeing and filling their orders, who was trading in its dark pool, and the capabilities of its electronic trading services,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Friday.