Every new political leader needs a mission to define himself, and for new Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, that mission is fighting Russia’s rampant corruption. Gee, we’ve heard that one before… Here are just a few highlights:
* "'So far as concrete work on the fight against corruption is concerned, I believe it was, is and will remain a pressing issue for Russia,'” [said recently-fired Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov].
International Herald Tribune, June 3, 2006
* “Russia: Anticorruption Drive Touches The 'Untouchable' FSB”
* “[Fradkov] knows the security structures," Putin said. "For this reason he has good experience in the battle with corruption."
RFE/RL, June 2, 2006
Moscow Times, March 2, 2004.
*“President Boris Yeltsin's choice for Russian prime minister, Sergei Stepashin, has pledged to step up the fight against crime and corruption in the economy.”
BBC, May 17, 1999
* “Russia's leadership has made an aggressive public start to its latest anti-corruption campaign, but is recycling some ideas that have already failed before, officials said.”
MT, April 17, 1997
* “President Boris Yeltsin declared yet another war on political corruption Thursday.”
MT, April 11, 1997
* "'[Nemtsov]'s one of the rare politicians in Russia who are above any suspicions of corruption,' said Andrei Piontkovsky, head of the Center for Strategic Studies."
MT, March 18, 1997
* "Yeltsin condemned 'corruption in the middle echelons' of government and said: 'I have already told [Prime Minister] Chernomyrdin we need a serious purge of the apparatus.'"
MT, June 11, 1994
Yeltsin, it should be remembered, came to power attacking corruption in the Soviet Union. In 1992, he launched his first major anti-corruption campaign, and followed that up with another campaign in 1993. However, the man he appointed to head the anti-corruption campaign in ’93 was his vice president, Alexander Rutskoi—who would soon become Yeltsin’s mortal enemy.
Rutskoi’s anti-corruption committee was honing in on the unbelievable corruption within Yeltsin’s circles—and not surprisingly, the anti-corruption campaign fell apart. A few months later, Yeltsin sent tanks to the White House to arrest Rutksoi and his rebels. From there, Russia went on to become one of the most corrupt nations on earth, in spite of all the great success of IMF-backed policies.
The point is that Russia's newest War On Corruption is as doomed and corrupt as America’s endless War On Drugs campaigns - and just as politically useful.