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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kompromat No Longer Does the Job

The Federal Security Service has alleged that Boris Berezovsky financed the Chechen rebels. Boris Abramovich, in turn, claims that he has evidence of the FSB's involvement in organizing the apartment block bombings in Moscow.

Just imagine if the political opposition in the United States were to accuse the FBI of complicity in the events of Sept. 11. What a scandal there would be. Watergate would pale in comparison.

In this country, however, kompromat has been totally devalued.

In February, the case against Anatoly Bykov, the former owner of Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant, or KrAZ, will go to court. He is accused of having ordered the killing of his former comrade-in-arms, Pavel Struganov. There is a tape that contains a conversation between Bykov and the supposed hit-man, Alexander Vasilenko; there is the testimony of Vasilenko himself; and there is one more tape recorded in Cyprus with the participation of close friends of Bykov's, in which Vasilenko retracts his previous statements.

Is anyone really interested in the facts of the case? Did he order the hit or not? What's really of interest is how it will affect Russian Aluminum, which seized KrAZ from Bykov. Because Bykov at large means big problems for RusAl and, in particular, for his long-standing enemy Oleg Deripaska.

It is said that five years ago, Bykov, then KrAZ board chairman, had a great opportunity to get rid of Deripaska, who was then general director of the Sayansk aluminum plant. It was shortly after the rift between Deripaska and Sayansk crime boss Vladimir Tatarenkov. Tatarenkov helped TransWorld Group to buy up SaAZ shares and, apparently, there was an agreement that Tatarenkov would receive $2 million for services rendered. But TWG refused to pay up. Instead, TWG manager Deripaska went to the local RUOP and told them he wanted to join the fight against organized crime.

Tatarenkov did not take kindly to this and, as a result, dispatched some hitmen with grenade throwers to camp out in the mountains above a narrow road where Deripaska passed on his way between Achinsk and Sayanogorsk. However, he got the rather stupid idea into his head of asking Bykov to pay for the hit. Bykov was loath to give any money, believing that Tatarenkov was entirely capable of resolving his own problems at his own expense, and the whole thing was canceled.

No one seems too concerned whether Tolya Bykov ordered a hit on Struganov, who is known as Pasha Tsvetomuzyka. They are both mere pawns in the bigger political game. If Bykov stays in the slammer, it means that RusAl and the Family are still in the ascendant. If he is freed, it means that the new Petersburgers have seized the initiative.

Kompromat doesn't have an impact on society because it does not have any influence on the authorities. The chekists have reportedly confiscated from Vyacheslav Aminov -- an adviser to Alexander Voloshin -- a whole video library with tapes of a person resembling the head of the presidential administration having a good time with underage girls. They might just as well have confiscated a video collection of children's cartoons.

If Voloshin is dumped, it won't be because of the video library. In fact, the opposite is more likely: The more pressure on the president to remove someone, the more that person will seem to be important and irreplaceable.

Facts in this country have been conclusively killed off. All that's left now are informal "understandings."

Yulia Latynina is a journalist with ORT.