Alexei Navalny, who is in a colony near Vladimir, wrote a column on the importance of fighting corruption on the anniversary of his poisoning by Novichok. The opposition’s article was published by the British The Guardian, German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and french The world.
“Exactly a year ago, I did not die from chemical weapons poisoning, and it seems that corruption played a significant role in my survival. Having defeated the state system of Russia, corruption also struck the secret services. <...> When the country’s top leadership is engaged in racketeering and extortion from business, the quality of special operations [ФСБ] inevitably suffers, “Navalny began.
According to him, a political regime based on corruption can only perform “simple tasks.” The first thing that “autocrats who want to rob their people” take control of is the quid pro quo system. “That is why, when I returned to Russia after treatment, I was sent to prison straight from the plane. There is no reason for joy in this, but at least I now have time to read the memoirs of world leaders, ”he said.
In their memoirs, politicians outlined issues of the “big agenda” (war, poverty, migration, climate change, weapons of mass destruction), among which there are either none at all, or the fight against corruption is rare. This problem is considered a “secondary problem” and appears only in the stories of world leaders about their predecessors, Navalny said.
In his opinion, corruption interferes with finding solutions to the problems of the “big agenda,” therefore it should become a priority, including at summits. At the same time, Navalny admitted that the topic of corruption is difficult to discuss, since it implies a transition to personalities. “Suppose you are discussing Syria and cyberattacks with Putin. Everyone thinks this is interesting and understandable. <...> Now imagine a meeting with Putin on the issue of corruption. <...> The richest leader who robbed his country is invited to discuss how to cope with the problem of himself. It is very difficult, very inconvenient, ”the oppositionist stressed.
Corruption has long ceased to be a problem only for authoritarian countries (from Russia to Venezuela); it is almost always one of the main causes of global problems facing the West, Navalny pointed out. The war in Ukraine is Putin’s revenge for the anti-corruption revolution that toppled Yanukovych, and the migration crises are linked to poverty, which in turn is also caused by corruption, the oppositionist wrote.
According to Navalny, Western leaders should take part in the fight against corruption, since “in 90% of cases, the stolen goods are stored in the West.” From a source of limitless opportunity, corruption should become a burdensome hindrance for the part of the elite surrounding autocrats, he said.
To do this, Navalny identified five steps in the fight against corruption. The West should formulate a category of “countries that encourage corruption”, which will allow taking uniform measures against groups of countries, rather than imposing sanctions against individual officials. The main measure for these countries should be “compulsory transparency”, Navalny said. We are talking about the publication of all documents on government contracts between foreign companies and their partners from countries “representing corruption risks.”
“Do you work for a state-owned company with a high risk of corruption and want to buy a villa on the French Riviera? Okay, please, but you should be aware that all information about the deal will be publicly available. Do you want to deal with an official in Minsk or an aunt of the Russian governor? No problem, but you will have to publish all the documents, you will no longer be able to hide the bribes that you pay through a “regional representative” or “local partner”, ”the oppositionist wrote.
In addition, Navalny proposed to impose sanctions against oligarchs from Putin’s inner circle, otherwise “any anti-corruption rhetoric from the West will look like empty chatter.” Today, according to him, representatives of the special services, “of which no one has ever heard,” are included in the sanctions lists of the EU and the United States, but there are no people in whose interests they act. “The West needs to get rid of the mindset by which the label“ businessman ”is an indulgence. Putin’s oligarchs <...> are not businessmen, but leaders of organized criminal groups, ”Navalny said.
The oppositionist called the creation of an international body or commission to fight corruption as another important step. Navalny noted that the United States, Great Britain and Germany already have laws to combat corruption in other countries, but “even Western law enforcement agencies treat corrupt foreign officials with delicacy.” “All contracts linking former or current Western politicians with business partners from corrupt countries should also be open to public scrutiny,” he concluded.
The founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) fell ill on August 20 during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. After landing in Omsk, he was admitted to a local hospital, where he fell into a coma. Two days later, Navalny was transported to Berlin for treatment. Specialists from the Bundeswehr and experts from laboratories in France, Sweden and the OPCW found the substance “Novichok” in his analyzes. Russian authorities do not acknowledge that Navalny was poisoned. The Insider and Bellingcat told about eight FSB officers who were involved in the poisoning of the oppositionist. In January, Navalny returned to Russia after being treated in Germany. He was detained at the airport, after which the court replaced his suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case with a real one.