Yury Skuratov: Putin is surrounded by corrupted people

Russia elected its president two years ago. The president’s team consists of the people from the special services, professionals basically who were trained in the special services of the USSR and the Russian Federation.

This is supposed to make the people of Russia feel confident that the reforms by president Putin are right and correct, for Academician Sakharov used to acknowledge that the special services of our country are not corrupt.

In this case, why did the criminal cases connected with money laundering through the companies that were owned by people having informal links with Chechnya’s terrorists and Yeltsin’s “family,” remain undecided? Russia’s former Prosecutor General, professor, Doctor of Legal Sciences, and president of the fund Legal Technologies of the XXI century, Yury Skuratov ,answered these questions to our correspondent.

Question: Yury Ilyich, now Russia has another captain at the steering wheel. This is a smart person indeed, but it seems that the struggle with corruption has not made any progress. What is the reason? Why is it a usual thing in Russia when the people directly involved in the most horrible crimes, I mean former Minister Vladimir Rushaylo and other “politicians” directly connected with terrorism, are simply moved to another position or are retired?

Answer: It is incorrect to say that it is the position of the president or his unwillingness to organize the struggle with terrorism that prevents the progress in this respect. There are a lot of objective reasons. When Putin came to power, the new structures of the Internal Affairs Ministry, the fiscal police, or other bodies – they could not appear just like that – all of a sudden. Corruption penetrated the law-enforcement bodies first and foremost, so the tools, with the help of which the struggle with corruption is carried out, are in the improper condition. The president must have some time in order to change this situation. It can not be corrected quickly. However, at the same time, we have a right to expect more active steps in this direction from the new president; to return the capital that has been taken out of the country illegally would definitely help to settle the debts with the IMF and other financial institutions and would ease Russia’s position. Why does this not happen? First and foremost, because many people, stuck in corruption, are the ones surrounding Putin. Putin has to cast aside “the family.” The president seems to be doing it, but very slowly, and the situation is getting worse still. “The family” as the stronghold of corruption among the senior officials of Russia still exists. If it exists, then all its resources and all its levels of influence are preserved. Its influence helped to block efforts, the president’s efforts too. His actions were either inefficient or they turned out to be rather soft and far from being resolute to hit the criminals in the power. Here is another thing. Some of the people who the president worked with still hold their positions, even if they are not linked with “the family.” Putin has not make any measures to get rid of these officials. The third reason that prevents the president from working is the fact of his connection with those structures and with the people against which he should take decisive measures. These people are oligarchs first and foremost. As a matter of fact, every one of them can be called to criminal account. But at the same time, if Putin disturbed several of them, they would quickly consolidate and do something in response. They have a very powerful influence. both economic and financial and so on.

As far as Berezovsky and Gusinsky are concerned, the oligarchs realized why the president did what he did. Gusinsky did not support Putin at the elections, so they thought he had a moral right to do so. Berezovsky supported Putin at the elections and did his best for his election, but afterwards, he started working his own way, being offended of the fact that the president did not give him anything in return. The power started dealing with oligarchs for political reasons.

Other oligarchs did not give any reasons for being disturbed, as they voted for Putin, they gave money, they set up “working” relations with the power structure. It is really hard to touch upon the oligarchs’ interests, although the whole business in Russia is half-criminalized. So the struggle with criminalism should have been started with “the family,” with the people close to the president, with the oligarchs. Of course, Putin realizes that he is unable to execute this goal. Putin is a person who originally came out of the special services, so he knows the real situation. If he were certain in the reality of a threat, then he would be forced to be more resolute and decisive. I personally believe that the current situation in the world, the war against terrorism and the treat of the world war, most dangerous. The biggest threat to Russia is the threat of corruption. No program, either social or economic, will ever be implemented with the current threat of corruption. All the money will be stolen and the funds will be used for absolutely different purposes. The Western community is not going to fund Russia, for it does not trust the law-enforcement bodies, and it never will. So, here, we have the whole complex of objective, subjective reasons and also the weak progress in terms of legislation; there are too many escape clauses in it. To crown it all, the judicial authority is also corrupted, together with the law-enforcement bodies. So the major problem, as I see it, is that the institutions that should struggle with corruption are corrupted in their nature. They have to be treated first, and only after that, will we see some results.

Question: Anton Chekhov used to say, “Treat the cause of the disease, not the disease.” Let’s talk about the reason. Who do you think could be a person watching Putin on behalf of “the family?” Alexander Voloshin (the head of the presidential administration)?

Answer: There are many of those who inform “the family.” Yeltsin was a very formal president; he was spending most of his time not in the Kremlin but either in the countryside or in the hospital. And a certain group of people was ruling the country. They now act from the background, but rather efficiently. As you can see, nothing is being changed in Russia.

Question: Yury Ilyich, could you tell us more about the major transgression in the case of the oil company Sibneft?

Answer: I am not aware of the details, but as far as I know, it was about tax payment evasion by Sibneft’s structures, re-export of oil. I assume that the money in question was quite considerable. The main thing here is that I received information about another thing. When Prosecutor General Ustinov visited the Kremlin, he gave his instructions on the matter. It turned out that the files were closed in a safe and the investigator, who was in charge of the files, was on vacation. Therefore, they found the key, opened the safe, found the files and stopped the proceedings within one or two days, although the proceedings were legally instituted and had to be investigated. It showed very well to what extent the Office of the Prosecutor General became the tool for making illegal decisions and to what extent it has become “tamed.”

Question: So you want to say that the people were grabbing a lot for themselves, taking it away from the state, and the money was used avoiding the state’s pocket? I am talking about the notorious privatization.

Answer: The sense of the privatization is to sell really expensive things very cheap. The money for the payment was most often taken from the budget. What was the point to privatize the oil complex? It was developing with the use of the public money, but it was handed over as private property. Was it a requisite thing to do? There is an experience of the state oil companies, and they work absolutely normally. The oil pipe used work in the interests of the whole nation; we also supplied the countries of East Europe, Africa ,and Asia with oil. However, now, there is not enough oil even for the citizens of Russia. Why did the oil field become an object for privatization? There is no enterprise in Russia that has privatized honestly.

Question: Do you remember how the president’s career started? Some media outlets had information about meetings between the top Russian and Chechen officials on the threshold of Shamil Basayev’s incursion in Dagestan. Like Ruslan Khasbulatov told me, Russian helicopters helped the columns of the Chechen gunmen. Do you think this is a strange thing or did the would-be president need a jump to the power, which would be totally different from what his milieu was saying?

Answer: We know that Basayev used to execute a lot of delicate instructions. He was in contact with our special services when he was waging war in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia. There is some information that the situation in Dagestan and the military actions were permitted, authorized, the federal authorities knew about them, and that Basayev conducted negotiations regarding these issues. Different explanations can be given for the fact that neither Basayev, Khattab, nor Maskhadov have been found for such a long time. The special services use a lot of their working methods, but there should be a moral limit, and this line must not be crossed. The conflict in Chechnya resulted in the illegal trade of weapons. When the gunmen asked for a weapon, it was there to be found. There was the supply on the part of the army, which experienced a serious lack of clothes and food. It then became a means of profit.

Yury Skuratov was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru

On the photo: Yury Skuratov

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/03/33397.html

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