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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


It is not yet the "elimination of oligarchs as a class" that the new rulers have hinted at. Nor does it mean that the country is about to start playing by the economic and political rules of happier and richer countries.

But as the authorities turned up the heat this week on some of the most powerful companies, at least the cynical view that President Vladimir Putin is a nonentity installed by the old guard to protect their privileges is looking less plausible. ?

But many questions are unanswered. The Kremlin's favorite oligarchs, as the tycoons are known, are still free from official scrutiny. Chief among them are aluminum barons, such as Roman Abramovich and Oleg Derepaska. ?

But maybe these old chums will be next. Boris Berezovsky, for one, has been sounding unhappy f and has [attacked] various presidential policies. ?

If the Kremlin biffs all the oligarchs, it will dispel the idea that a Putin presidency just means reslicing the cake among winners (Mr. Putin's friends) and losers (his enemies).

It will not, on its own, mean that a law-based state has suddenly arrived. But optimists hope it will be a start.

July 15-21