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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: Kompromat's Impact Begins To Wear Off

An epidemic of kompromat is rampaging across Russia. All politicians and oligarchs, it seems, are coming down with little viruses carried in press articles. Naturally, the epidemic is having the effect of creating an immunity to the disease. Just as cockroaches quickly get used to insecticide dust and only breed more zealously, Russian politicians have now received an inoculation from compromising materials about their commercial activities.

In the wake of the adventures of the man who looked like Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov in an infamous video cavorting with prostitutes, previous scandals - like when Anatoly Chubais was forced to leave his Cabinet post because of a suspicious-looking advance for a pathetic book, or when Valentin Kovalyev was removed as justice minister because of his gangland sauna session - seem like something out of the quaint past.

Inasmuch as kompromat has proliferated to the point that journalists will soon be able to circulate it from any fax, it is worth considering who produces the best kompromat.

I have come to the conclusion that the special services produces the worst-quality kompromat. I had occasion to read "analytical notes" penned by the special services in which the Transworld Group was called the Transford group and Oleg Deripaska, the general director of the Sayansk aluminum factory, was called Oleg Deripasko. This did not stop the authors of this "analytical" paper from giving strategic advice on how to protect Russia's national interests, pitting the aforementioned Deripaska against the aforementioned Transford group.

Low salaries plus absolute irresponsibility are corrupting the employees of the state security services. Cases brought by them collapse in court because of their complete legal incompetence.

The material collected by corporate security services, or by private structures specializing in the sale of information, is much more solid. It is not a mixture of fantasy and badly monitored conversations. It is elegantly constructed, usually proving what the person who ordered it needed.

Most interesting, however, is that just as 80 percent of the information gathered by an intelligence agent comes from open sources, 80 percent of the most malicious Russian kompromat is contained in presidential decrees and government orders.

Not one act of illegal fraud cost the budget as much as the completely legal loans-for-shares auctions.

Not one illegal operation transferring money abroad can compare with the $8 billion debt that the Central Bank, in front of everyone, spent on a hopeless effort to support the ruble.

No thief who has stolen a shipment of grain using false documents has caused Russian farmers more injury than the "food aid" so heavily lobbied by former deputy prime minister Gennady Kulik.

This is why Russia has become immune to little kompromat - the kind discovered with the aid of a video camera. It is, for example, somehow awkward to jail Berezovsky for illegally tapping telephones if everyone knows that he basically took ORT national television and the Sibneft oil company from the people. And for ORT and Sibneft he will also not be jailed, because it was all carried out completely legally.