Skip to comments.Russia's Rich Sponsor Opposition, This Time Officially
Posted on 05/31/2012 11:57:36 PM PDT by cunning_fish
Anti-Putin activism in Russia drags more and more influential backers on its side, amid unfavourable and even repressive, as in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky judiciary practice towards the infidels of the establishment. Forbes billionaire Alexander Lebedev, leading critic of Russian governing elites among billionaires, has publicly and openly announced Wednesday that he sponsored (and will sponsor) Anti-Corruption Fund set up by opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who is said to be the man Vladimir Putin fears most. The fund investigates and exposes governmental and business frauds.
Lebedev got to the so-called list of 16 brave ones together with vice-president of Russias giant insurance company, Rosgosstrakh, Roman Borisovich; Alfa Groups strategic planning director, Alexei Savchenko; and venture capitalist Sergei Filonov.
Vedomosti business daily reports that Navalnys Sixteen all together contributed $135,000 and promised the same batch in the second half of the year. Thus, the fund might reach its target of $300,000 raised annually.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
Himself, the activist has served two 15-day jail sentences on anti-Putin protest-related charges in the last six months, while the Anti-Corruption Fund manager Vladimir Ashurkov is said to have been forced out of the executives seat at Alfa Bank because of his political affiliations.
For Alexander Lebedev, it is by far not the first time that he supports such activism. Owner of National Reserve Corporation and 15% stake in state-owned Aeroflot, Lebedev has been financing Novaya Gazeta, Russias main opposition newspaper, famous for investigations into corruption. He also conducts his own ones, including last years investigation into $14bn bail-out of VTB, the Russian state bank.
Earlier in March, right after Putin had reaffirmed himself as a president, Alexander Lebedev told CNN that he also wanted to change a stereotype, but another one: being in the Forbes list you can not do anything positive. I plan to get out of business and go more into politics, but its not that easy, he said. Hopefully, it is going to take three to four months.
And there he is.
Until recently, it was hard to imagine such developments. In 2003-2005, when the wealthiest man in Russia and one of the richest people in the world, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, decided to get involved into politics, he got sent down on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion instead, and locked up for nine years. During one of the court hearings, his entourage explained that Putin, while president, had been angered by Khodorkovskys support of the Communist Party together with liberal Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces.
Khodorkovskys lesson was then well learned by Russias rich; Mr. Lebedev now proves the opposite.
Transition towards public financial support of anti-corruption initiatives, as well as of other social initiatives, logically follows the processes undergoing in our society, Vedomosti newspaper summarised, pointing at the Russian civil society awakened in the electoral mayhem.
Obviously, the country will not immediately loose its bottom positions in Transparency Internationals сorruption perception index. Though the walkout of the 16 brave ones appears to be an important precedent: it has set a new ground for middle and high income business leaders, and will hopefully trigger the development of new competitive civil structures.
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