Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Career Path Of Kiriyenko: Instant Lottery




In many crowded spots in Moscow (around the metro stations and at open air markets) energetic young people with closely shaved heads in leather coats urge passers-by to try their luck and take part in the drawing of Instant Lottery. For some reason no one ever wins this game, except those who organize it. Still, every day scores of fresh suckers fall into the same trap, making the swindlers rich, who use all kinds of standard psychological devises.


Recently I made an interesting discovery. It turns out that these petty street gangsters are spiritual offsprings of Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko. Seven years ago, a humble provincial functionary of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Young Communist League named Kiriyenko registered an invention called "Instant Lottery" at the patent office of the Soviet Union.


In the documents presented to the patent office, the young applicant painstakingly argued that the novelty of his invention lay in the variety of psychological gimmicks, allowing a maximal number of naive simpletons to be drawn into playing the game. The novelty and social significance of the invention of the young thinker was judged to be of merit, and he was given the patent, which was discovered recently in the patent office by meticulous journalists.


Kiriyenko has come a long way since he organized Instant Lottery in Nizhny Novgorod, but he has remained true to his individual creative trademark, which he so successfully found in his youth.


He has always succeeded in coming up with organizational schemes that destroy everything except the organizers. He became Instant First Secretary of the Young Communist League, Instant Bank President, Instant Oil Magnate and Instant Prime Minister.


Having won so many Instant Lotteries he could say with off-hand self-confidence: "I am not a poor man." As for those who lost, he patiently and condescendingly explained to them: "You must understand that Russia is a rather poor country."


Kiriyenko's current Instant Lottery is "borrowing" from international financial institutions rather than from Nizhny Novgorod pedestrians. The stakes are much higher now than seven years ago. I personally wouldn't trust this gentleman with 15 rubles. Would you trust him with $15 million?


The money will be entrusted not to him, you might say, but the government. But the government is made up of concrete personalities, most of whom have won their small and great Instant Lotteries. For example, the deputy prime minister responsible for financial policy, Viktor Khristenko, headed the "Foundation of Deceived Investors" in his native Chelyabinsk. Poor Chelyabinsk investors were screwed for a second time by a provincial prodigy. All their contributions to the foundation were reportedly spent on Khristenko's fee for his book, "How to Protect the Interests of Deceived Investors." A wonderful absurdist story worthy of Samuel Beckett or Eugene Ionesco, isn't it?


"Waiting for the IMF" -- this is actually a play that is being performed now on the Moscow political scene by a cast of leading actors. The stars include President Boris Yeltsin as the noble, but bankrupt father; Kiriyenko as a model pupil; and Anatoly Chubais as the professional beggar with a worldwide reputation. In thebackground is a Greek chorus of coal miners and academics demanding payment of their accumulated wage arrears.