The secret budget of the Putin system goes to Nice

Many wealthy gentlemen in Russia can still earn money, but they do not want to live any more. And they keep the suitcases with cash ready.
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In these days, two curious reports about secret operations with some strange cash money - millions of "ownerless" dollars and hundreds of millions of euros - appeared at once. The public prosecutor of Nice stated that the Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, accused of money laundering and tax evasion, imported into France suitcases with cash - 20 million euros each. And according to the Russian service of the BBC, FSB general Oleg Feoktistov last year lent a suitcase with $ 2 million from a mysterious familiar investor to promote the "Ulyukaev affair", which he personally brought to the Rosneft building.

Feoktistov did not name his sponsor, and Kerimov's guilt has not yet been proven. Therefore, we will not touch specific characters, but we will try to reflect on why such opportunistic adventures take place with the money of the conditional Ivanov, Petrov or Suleymanov. After all, specific oligarchs come and go (Abramovich has long "left" with his money in England), and Putin's regime remains. And his fate largely depends on the movement of currency cases.

How to behave wealthy Mr. Suleimanov in our conditions, is not described in any management textbook. The choice of the strategy involves taking into account specific real business opportunities, business insurance against current political risks, and long-term investment prospects. In present-day Russia, the best option is to divide the capital into "three heaps."

Money from the first group is invested in business. No matter how much the Russian economy is being scolded, it still still brings investors profits. After all, we live, we chew bread, sometimes even with butter. Apocalyptic predictions of the times of imposing sanctions did not come true. The market did not collapse. You can make money on it. And Suleymanov energetically makes them. The main threat to him is not sanctions and not the fall in oil prices, but the Russian government, which can contribute to business (as, for example, in the case of Rothenberg) or hinder (as in the case of Khodorkovsky).

To be closer to the "Rotenberg incident" than to the "Khodorkovsky incident", our Suleymanov must skillfully spend money from the second pile, which is intended to invest in politics - that is, to maintain and strengthen the Putin system. For the Kremlin and Mr. Suleymanov, this process is mutually beneficial. The Kremlin actually receives from the hundreds or even thousands of Suleimanovs an informal budget, and Suleimanov - temporary political guarantees of the inviolability of its fixed capital.

Each option of political investment represents a merit in strengthening the regime. It is possible to give money to General Feoktistov in order to apprehend the disgraced minister Ulyukayev. You can invest in the campaign of the "opposition" Ksenia Sobchak, so that the dull presidential elections look more fun and turnout of voters on them increased. It is possible to help build in the provinces all sorts of facilities for the World Cup, which will never bring profit, but are still useful, since it is Putin's personal whim, who believes that he increases the reputation of Russia. You can create a "troll factory" to influence the information space, that is, to pour mud on the Internet of all who offer sound ideas for reforming the country. You can hire some "gentlemen of luck" to solve problems in hot spots of the post-Soviet space or the Middle East, since after their work, luck suddenly turns away from those politicians with whom the Kremlin has quarreled ...

I have listed here only the most obvious areas of investment for the conditional Mr. Suleymanov. This is something that is almost not hidden. What is directly stated in the press either through journalistic investigations, or even because the authorities themselves are paying attention to this. It is not difficult to guess that such little-known or even completely secret cases, where the money of Mr. Suleymanov is in demand, is much greater. There are Suleimanov regional or district scale, ensuring the correct outcome of elections or comfortable management environment for the governor. By and large, we can not even tell where the investments in regional politics end and start investing in personal entertainment and recreation of all high-ranking personalities. In the houses of "reception of delegations", in fact are their personal villas. In the welfare of various children and household members.

If there is private money that the general can use to solve an important state task to catch a corrupt minister, then no state controller will be able to find out when these "state tasks" turn into ordinary bribery, on which the watchful generals themselves are warming themselves. But it's not so bad. The main problem is that the money transferred to the black cash and not accounted for by the state can easily move across borders if Mr. Suleimanov considers long-term investment in our country to be unpromising.

That's when the third pile of money is loaded into large suitcases with packaging not on "trifles", not for $ 2 million, as in the "Ulyukaev case", but immediately at 20 million euros. And sent for the purchase of luxury villas on the Côte d'Azur, fertile vineyards in Tuscany, comfortable apartments in the center of London and everything else, as already there is a lot of information in the press. And also about what the press does not know yet. Some prosecutor in Nice theoretically can find Russian money and raise the question of whether this is criminal money. But the Russian prosecutor will never find them, because he understands perfectly well that the circulation of various suitcases with cash is a way of realizing the most important state tasks. And it is better not to poke your nose into these tasks. Tighter will be.

In fact, all our oligarchs, generals and ministers have only one goal of withdrawing money abroad. They understand that in Russia it is now possible to cut down large pawns and insure them for some time with the help of investing part of the capital in the Kremlin's policy. However, no one expects that here one can live normally in the long term. Life for people with suitcases begins in that Western world, which they aggressively abuse, but really adore.

Dmitry Travin, professor at the European University in St. Petersburg.