Many Russians will no doubt be nursing sore heads this morning following the announcement that the country is to host the World Cup in 2018. But were last night’s revellers at all troubled by Russia’s other big news story this week—WikiLeaks cables alleging that Russia is effectively a “mafia state” run by its corrupt prime minister? Not likely.
While foreign newspapers have filled their pages with tales of corruption and intrigue among Russia’s political elites, few in the country have responded with much more than a frustrated shrug. To understand why the scandal has barely raised eyebrows in Moscow, it is worth looking at these revelations a little more closely.
Take, for instance, the story claiming Silvio Berlusconi profited financially from his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Such a scandal should surely be politically ruinous for both leaders. Worse, we are told that Putin has amassed a vast personal fortune through the secret ownership of foreign companies and offshore assets.