How Did Putin as St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Fail to Grow Rich?

Should have been easy if he is as corrupt as political enemies allege

Sat, Jan 3, 2015
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Could be he's not that into money

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at The Unz Review


About the personal corruption charge Lynch [Allen C. Lynch, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft, 2011] offers substantial detail and discusses how it got going, basically spread by Putin’s liberal opponents.

To those who suggest that Putin stood to make a fortune off his political choices, Lynch (and others) offers substantial documentation to the contrary:

Putin was not corrupt, at least in the conventional, venal sense. His modest and frankly unfashionable attire bespoke a seeming indifference to personal luxury.

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While as deputy mayor. He had acquired the use of the summer dacha of the former East German Consulate and even installed a sauna unit there, but when the house burned down in the summer of 1996, his $5,000 life’s savings burned with it.

To have accumulated only $5,000 in five years as deputy mayor of Russia’s second-largest city and largest port, when hundreds of less well-placed Russians were enriching themselves on government pickings, implies something other than pecuniary motives behind Putin’s activities (….)

In sum, Putin was honest, certainly by Russian standards. He lived simply and worked diligently. Accused by a foe…of having purchased a million dollar villa in France, Putin sued for slander and won his case in court a year later. [Lynch, pp. 33, 35]

The continuing charges that Putin is corrupt and has surrounded himself with ex-KGBers have as their origin, not surprisingly, leftist and liberal domestic opponents of the Russian president in Russia, as Lynch, Paul Craig Roberts, M. S. King, and others have shown.

In fact, most of Putin’s advisors lack serious earlier Communist/KGB involvement. The charges, nevertheless, have been picked up by the Murdoch media and Neocon press.

Just as they had lauded Yeltsin, they quickly turned on the nationalist Putin, who quickly became in the Western press a “KGB thug,” “corrupt,” and desirous of “restoring the old Soviet Union.

One of the major, if indirect, Russian domestic sources for the corruption charges comes via a prolific Russian politician, Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov, identified as a “new liberal,” is a longtime opponent of Vladimir Putin and a favorite of John McCain and various “mainstream conservatives.” [See, "Russians React Badly to U.S. Criticism on Protests," The New York Times, January 6, 2011]

Over the years he has penned a number of election broadsides and pamphlets, charging Putin with everything from feathering his own “nest” with “billions of rubles,” to election fraud. [See Nemtsov, Putin: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought, 2010] In each case, his allegations lack the kind of sources to make them creditable.

It is as if Al Gore were to have written a pamphlet about George W. Bush in the 2000 election: it and its content would immediately be highly suspect.


Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European intellectual history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain and an MA in American intellectual history from the University of Virginia. He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. He has published in French, Spanish, and English on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.

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