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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: New Local Slang Fit for All 'Situations'




Russian patriots have long been disturbed by the plethora of foreign phrases infiltrating our economic vocabulary. Words like "emissions", "tenders", "underwriting" and "marketing" have all been transliterated straight from English into Russian.


But patriots can finally take heart: The further we go, the more Russian economics are described in syllables that are barely translatable into other languages. To wit: ?®...®?" ??®°-..." (saw off, or skim, profit) and ??™†?-?†?" _† ™†??†_ (to pocket). And recently, my lexicon of new Russian economic phrases grew by yet one more: ™??®?" ?®??†-®", or buy the situation. Correspondingly, you can sell the situation too.


What does "buying the situation" mean? Imagine that you want to buy a little ferroalloy plant and the owner of the controlling stock packet sells the controlling packet to you. That is called "buying stock," something as banal as going to the banya.


Now, imagine that this stock has already been sold once, and sold against the owner's will. And in order that the owner not make too much of a stink about it, he was thrown in jail for stock manipulation. But all the same, he is selling this stock from his cell. And it is unclear what you are buying: Either you are buying stock, or you are buying the right to win a lawsuit to get the stock.


Or imagine that the factory recently had an additional stock issue and there are legal grounds on which to dispute the issue. And you are buying a 51 percent packet that does not take into account the stock redistribution under the additional issue. Under this issue, you are actually buying 0.5 percent - as well as the right to get the original 51 percent in court. In all of these cases, you are "buying the situation."


It's not difficult to figure out that this "situation" is different from the usual market commodity: Commodities have a market value that is independent of the status of the buyer. It's like buying chocolate at the store - whether you are a pensioner or a new Russian, the chocolate costs the same.


But the cost of a "situation" is defined by your status. If you're the best friend of the governor, or the head of a big financial industrial group, then you have one sort of possibility to win the lawsuits. If, however, you are nobody, your possibilities are quite different indeed.


It is much more interesting when both sides involved in such a lawsuit are relatively high in the food chain. Like when one is Vladimir Rushailo's buddy and the other is Anatoly Chubais' buddy. In that case, one gets his electricity turned off and the other gets his face smashed under the hood of a car for being a suspected mobster (and maybe he is a mobster, but that's not why they're mangling his face).


"Buying the situation" is Russian for hostile takeover. But even in Western hostile takeovers, you have to pay much higher than the market quote. In Russia, all you do is pay the governors, the judges and, in extreme cases, hit men.


Problem is, after the owners have changed two or three times as the result of buying the situation, the company won't need any ?†?™*?®_L and it won't have to worry about any ...®??®_L on the New York Stock Exchange.


Yulia Latynina writes for Segodnya.