Jun 9, 2008

Vadim Volkov Gets a Cookie

A decade ago, Vadim Volkov argued that the KGB -- and assorted power ministries -- were rapidly replacing the mafia as the main arbiter of business disputes in Russia. The latest edition of Business Week shows just how far we’ve come. For starters, there’s a pricelist for harassing your competition:

"...[T]he practice is common enough for the Russian press to name the prices corrupt officials allegedly charge for various 'services:' Getting police to open a criminal investigation costs $20,000 to $50,000, an office raid is as much as $30,000, and a favorable court ruling runs anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000."

All of this dovetails nicely with the recent testimony of Senior Federal Arbitration Court Judge Yelena Valyavina, who claimed that the "Kremlin has pressured and threatened the Russian judiciary to secure favorable rulings."

'I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'

Valyavina's testimony stems from a Kremlin libel suit against journalist Vladimir Solovyov. As it happens, Solovyov was foolish enough to claim, "there are no independent judges in Russia." Sure enough, the very same Kremlin official suing Solovyov also threaded Valyavina after she issued an unfavorable ruling against a Kremlin-controlled company.

This is why Russia is the greatest country in the world. Where else would the government sue a journalist for claiming there is no judicial independence, then list as the plaintiff the very same person responsible for intimidating judges.

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