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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Silence of Lambs, Wolves

When the Russian nomenklatura fraternizes with the Belarussian one, you don't have to be a top zoologist to understand who is the main partner in this duet. The bear, of course, and not the rabbit.

Even when Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko called Russia the "older brother," the older brother scolded him for violating protocol between "sovereign equals." Against the background of endless failures and humiliations in international politics and disagreeable bargaining with the opposition, the brotherly union was for the Russian leadership not even a sacred cow, but simply some kind of sexual fetish, for the sake of which the Russian authorities allowed a noose to be tied around their necks and tolerated the mocking, illegal antics of Lukashenko.

The tail is wagging the dog, Duma deputy Vladimir Lukin put it rather succinctly. I, of course, understand that basically the inexhaustible interest lies not in Slavic sentiments or even in cloudy geopolitics, but in the direct economic interest in the form of pipelines to the West. But that is no excuse for our leaders to be up to their neck in muck. Besides, they'll never get used to it.

Now, about something interesting. Recently, two episodes were made known to the broad public. The first is that the president of the country, Boris Yeltsin, planned in detail, and almost carried out, an honest-to-goodness gas attack on the parliament, with the help of the secret service. (This plan was revealed in the popular memoirs of Yeltsin's former bodyguard, Alexander Korzhakov.) The second is that, according to Novaya Gazeta, the resigned privatization chief, Alfred Kokh, received a gift in Switzerland of $100,000, while he was still serving in government, in the form of an advance for an unwritten brochure. Not one of the two incidents has been either refuted or called into question by the persons involved.

What's going on here? Yeltsin's plan is so savage and senseless that it can only be compared to the activities of the villains from a James Bond film. (Or a chronicle of Ivan the Terrible. But that was long ago.) A maniac who goes by the name of Goldfinger prepares a gas attack in order to capture American gold from Fort Knox. That scheme, like Yeltsin's, was not carried out to the end, and the red-headed adventurer Goldfinger, which in Korzhakov's memoirs could be a nickname for Anatoly Chubais, gets his just deserts from 007 in the end.

Such an operation, if it was truly planned, should have brought punishment to Yeltsin himself. The row over the bugging of the Watergate Hotel looks like child's play in comparison. Watergate, however, cost Richard Nixon his presidential seat. The Kokh affair is more prosaic: It is simply a matter of a hidden bribe, on which the law-abiding Alfred almost undoubtedly paid taxes.

What can be interesting in all this? Only that not one of these absolutely scandalous events has elicited any reaction -- either on the part of law-and-order bodies and the camp of political opponents or from television, radio and the newspapers, which supposedly have a penchant for sensations. Why are the enemies of Kokh's protector, Uneximbank head Vladimir Potanin, not fighting? Why are the communists and other imbeciles, who for years put forward all that nonsense about "psychotropic weapons," decide to be silent when they could talk about real chemical weapons?

I am simply at a loss. Is this the silence of the lambs, or of the wolves? Perhaps society has "stabilized" and has finally fostered in the depths of our state-bandit capitalism a "new community" of the Brezhnev type. Or a black hole has taken shape in the power structure which is so strong that it can absorb everything.

As for the "new community," on a recent broadcast of the program, "Men and Women," on Russian Television, the talk-show host Kira Proshutinskaya interviewed the singer and businessman Iosif Kobzon.

Kira: "Is it true, Iosif Davydovich, that you can gather around the table at your house both thieves-in-law and police officers?"

Kobzon (with dignity): "Yes." And he explains that what's important is not the occupation but whether someone is a good fellow.

Kira simply beams with tenderness. True, the public does not applaud. It does not yet appreciate all the charms of consolidating "good fellows."

I wonder what kind of reaction a revelation like this would evoke in the West. Any police officer who has ever "shared a table" with a mafia boss would, at the very least, be investigated. I also bet that no legal authority in Russia has even given a thought to such matters.