Other countries just like Pakistan, but with extra oil

Russia steps up to the plate, but being somewhat more literate it’s descent into a mafia state is done way much better than Pakistan’s ongoing slide…

Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a “virtual mafia state”, according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower.

Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300bn a year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime.

Instead of Cyprus, read Dubai and London, and of course, there is no way 300 billion dollars of bribery exchanges hands – even the biggest briber of them all only admits to about 5-6 billion dollars a year, so adding up all the rest we’re probably looking at a figure well south of a 100 billion dollars.

Russia is Pakistan! Some of the similarites:

Law enforcement agencies such as the police, spy agencies and the prosecutor’s office operate a de facto protection racket for criminal networks

Hey, instead of getting all those govt. capacity building trainers from the UN and USAID and what not, perhaps Pakistan should just call in the Russians and streamline our bribery procedures:

Rampant bribery acts like a parallel tax system for the personal enrichment of police, officials and the KGB’s successor, the federal security service (FSB).

Say what:

Investigators looking into Russian mafia links to Spain have compiled a list of Russian prosecutors, military officers and politicians who have dealings with organised crime networks.

In Pakistan, it would be easier to compile a list with the politicians who didn’t have links with organized crime. The list would be a bit short though, certainly fitting in a tweet length if not zero altogether.

Finally, a place where Pakistan beats out Russia:

Putin is accused of amassing “illicit proceeds” from his time in office, which various sources allege are hidden overseas

Over here, not just the top leader but the entire chain amasses ‘illicit’ proceeds… and the proceeds aren’t hidden, they are flaunted in mansions around the world. One day, an enterprising TV channel will start a TV show called Mansions of the rich and famous around the world – where the anchor visits all the mansions of our ‘poor’ politicians, paying 10 dollars a year in income tax.

Sometimes when I think the US has it’s head up it’s ass when it’s dealing with local politicians in Pakistan, cables like this make it clear that at some level they know what’s going on:

In a startling briefing for US officials in January, González said Russia was a “virtual mafia state” in which “one cannot differentiate between the activities of the government and OC [organised crime] groups” …González said he had evidence – thousands of wiretaps have been used in the last 10 years – that certain political parties in Russia worked hand in hand with mafia groups.

Now I wish they would do a better job in Pakistan in differentiating between good and bad mafias… and maybe even take the beig step sometimes of looking for non mafias to deal with – it’s a big step, but still…

And the reason why Islamabad is so rich, besides the disproportionate amount of funding it allocates itself from the federal budget:

At the summit of what is known in Russia as the power “vertical” lies the Kremlin, a prime beneficiary of the entrenched system of kickbacks, bribes, protection money and suspect contracts.

In a detailed and apparently plausible analysis of how corruption in the capital works, the US ambassador John Beyrle cited one source as saying: “Everything depends on the Kremlin … [former Moscow mayor Yuri] Luzhkov, as well as many mayors and governors, pay off key insiders in the Kremlin.”

Read the whole thing over at the Guardian.

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