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Suppose, just suppose, that the real reason for running $50 billion in Russia’s Central Bank cash reserves through the accounts of a shelf company registered in the Channel Islands, was not to hide the money from foreigners intent on seizing state assets, but rather to hide from Russians trying to steal them. And suppose, just [...]

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Until the thunder strikes, the Russian saying goes, the peasant won’t cross himself. Neither cross nor double-cross is what the Russian government claims it did when the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, most recently flew from Athens to Russia, then back to Athens, and then towards Minsk, only to be turned back. According to the head [...]

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What leads fine performers of Bach cello sonatas, Rachmaninov piano concertos, and Chekhov plays and stories to imagine they can enter Russian politics as nimbly as they move their fingers over their instruments and scores? One answer Rostropovich the cellist, Petrov the pianist, and Mikhalkov the film-maker have given is that they have the right, [...]

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For years now, officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of Russia’s Finance Ministry, and of the Central Bank of Russia have been conducting a discreet conversation among themselves they intended no-one else to hear — at least not in Russia. Mikhail Zadornov — who complained this was unprincipled and undemocratic when he was a [...]

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As the well-known Engish screenwriter, Dennis Potter, was in his last days, dying of pancreatic cancer, he agreed to an interview on television. There he said: “I call my cancer Rupert. I would shoot the bugger if I could.” Potter was speaking of Rupert Murdoch, the media proprietor. Five years after Potter’s death, in a [...]

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By answering questions the way he’s been doing, the Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, Viktor Gerashchenko, has unfortunately aroused people to ask whether he’s a good man, or bad. A good man is good inside, they say in Russian villages — a good horse is good outside. No one investigating the Central Bank [...]

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What kind of bird is russa’s prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov, or is he a fox? Aesop once tried to explain the difference with the fable of a jackdaw, who was sitting on the branch of a fig-tree. Hungry though he was, the bird could see the fruit was still green. So he decided to wait. [...]

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Rogues aren’t always criminals. Take rogue elephants, for example: if they threaten to go on the rampage, it’s neces sary to immobilise them; and if that doesn’t work, to shoot them. After the rampage, that’s a waste of bullets — unless they threaten to come back. The evidence being patiently assembled at the moment by [...]