Russia: November 13, 2002


President Putin, who has been doing very well in opinion polls, has apparently followed through on promises to crack down on corruption. Much to the chagrin of dishonest officials and businessmen, Putin has lawyers and accountants investigating their financial dealings and building solid cases against the guilty. This extends to the military as well. This week, four senior officers were charged with fraud. Most of these officers created phantom troops under their command and then pocketed the "troops" pay. This is an ancient scam, going back centuries. It is more common now because of the greater use of higher paid "contract" (volunteer) soldiers. Another army official was charged with taking bribes. These prosecutions also have a positive morale effect, although most Russians suspect that it's just a few prosecutions for appearances sake. 


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