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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Taking Up Arms Against Bandit Banks




"He did the right thing. He had been making money, saving it, and then everything disappeared. I feel sorry for him." f Nina Ivanovna, a pensioner and passerby, commenting on retired Colonel Dmitry Setrakov's efforts to rob Rossiisky Kredit bank last week.


"He did the right thing, since banks will not give out money." f a spokeswoman for the Moscow police, commenting on the robbery.


So this is the emerging consensus, not only on the street but even among law enforcement: Taking up arms against the bandit-like banking system is at this point just another form of self-defense.


Last week, all eyes were on Boris Berezovsky. But arguably they should have been on Colonel Setrakov, 66, a former officer in Russia's General Staff headquarters (!) f who marched down to Rossiisky Kredit's branch on Tverskaya Ulitsa on Friday with a hunting rifle. He took the chief accountant hostage and demanded the bank hand over his $20,000 in savings.


Setrakov eventually surrendered. No one was harmed, and onlookers soon dispersed. Needless to say, Setrakov did not get his life savings back. And life in Moscow goes on f just as it did after the bizarre 1996 trolley bus bombings, or after last year's would-be presidential car bomber was checked at the Kremlin gates.


Even as Setrakov was making his desperate armed bid for the money he had entrusted to the banking system, another bank that has thumbed its nose at its depositors was crowing about the hundreds of millions of dollars in stabilization loans it has lined up.


SBS-Agro f which calls itself Soyuz Group now, in hopes of leaving behind its deservedly bad reputation with its name f said it would soon receive the final 2.5 billion ruble tranche of a 7.5 billion ruble ($350 million) loan from the Central Bank.


These so-called stabilization loans have been printed by the Central Bank and shoved into the hands of corrupt banks. Soyuz laid out its plans for these loans, and not surprisingly, paying gypped SBS-Agro depositors (who?) comes dead last. If, as expected, these loans end up giving inflation a significant boost, this means people like Setrakov will be paying what amounts to a hidden tax f so that they can be robbed by the banking system again.


It's no wonder ordinary Russians who were criticizing Setrakov over the weekend did so not on moral grounds, but pragmatic: It was stupid of him, quixotic, he did not have enough fire power. So what does that say about the developing political mood? It says the Russian elite is sure to someday reap the whirlwind it is sewing.