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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Personal Qualities of Power

Once a upon a time, there was a governor named Dmitry Ayatskov. This governor had his own jet, boat, helicopter and personal zoo. The city of Saratov, where he reigned, did not have a zoo, but Ayatskov did. This zoo was right next to his lovely palace, which was built with funds from the regional budget and handed over to Ayatskov's common-law wife, Olga Sergeyeva.

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We would never have heard this fairy tale if Ayatskov had not had a falling out with a former buddy, Vyacheslav Volodin. Volodin had managed to become the deputy head of the United Russia faction in the State Duma and was on very good terms with Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov.

And lo and behold, someone else was appointed governor in Saratov, and prosecutors opened a criminal case against his wife, who is accused of privatizing her palace illegally.

It must be said that Dmitry Ayatskov stated that he had no idea of what his wife was up to. Izvestia reported that he further declared that she was not really his wife but just a good friend. In other words, spoken like a real man. But this has more to do with Ayatskov's personal qualities. I have bigger fish to fry.

Let's look instead at the personal qualities of those who are now in power. All right, gentlemen. You thought up this affair. You won this round, and Ayatskov lost his post as governor. And if you feel the urge, go ahead and beat him up or arrest him or something. But why go after his wife? What kind of coward kicks a woman when she's down?

The winners in Ukraine are also settling scores these days. Recently, they arrested Donetsk governor, Borys Kolesnikov. All Kolesnikov did was buy shares in the biggest shopping center in Donetsk from a certain Volodymyr Pinchuk. He got them for a song. The only problem is that investigators claim Pinchuk agreed to the sale while standing waist-deep in a freshly dug grave.

There are dozens of stories of this sort. Right before Ukraine's election, I heard them from Russian as well as from Ukrainian businessmen. Apparently, some of the Donetsk boys would make them an offer they couldn't refuse. If they tried, one of their partners would be kidnapped. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Orange Revolution happened. The Kiev business community was afraid things would become the way they were in Donetsk.

And so, gentlemen of the Prosecutor General's Office and the Kremlin, let me ask you something. You are waging a war against Mikhail Khodorkovsky. You have him behind bars. Why do you need to threaten his father? How can you let Prosecutor Kamil Kashayev practically accuse him of being an accessory to murder?

Ayatskov may have crossed you, but what does his wife have to do with it? Ayatskov, the new ambassador to Belarus, seems to be lying low. He is not out there decrying the case against his wife as politically motivated. He is not telling the authorities that they should be ashamed of themselves and come after him instead. And again, what kind of person has the fortitude to attack a woman only after her husband has made it clear he will not interfere? The people in charge of the country who are talking about the rule of law, that's who.

I am not demanding that the authorities act like law-abiding citizens. That may be too much to ask. But why can't they at least act like common criminals? Few criminals would go after their target's parents or wife in this kind of situation.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.