tv Helsinki Commission Holds Discussion on Russian Corruption CSPAN July 23, 2017 6:32pm-8:01pm EDT
i think the point to emphasize here is that over the course of rocks presidency there were scores of scores of people who had known him in illinois who are deeply disappointed with the trajectory of the obama presidency and disappointed in two ways, number one, disappointed that barack forgot that people -- many of the people, most of the people who were central to his political rise. announcer: tonight at 8:00 ."stern on c-span's "q and a ofouncer: now a discussion corruption in russia over the decades. this was hosted by the commission on security and cooperation in europe. it is also known as the helsinki commission. it is one hour and one half.
thank you for coming, welcome to today's briefing in russia. iem for a policy advisor responsible for economic and environmental issues at the helsinki commission. combating corruption is an imperative of the organization for security and cooperation. corruption takes many forms but the one that concerns us today is nowhere is the idea of corruption a system of government more fully realized than in the russian federation. russia has been on a steady path for the authoritarianism ever
since putin entered the scene a teen years ago. since then a new generation has entered adulthood, one that does not remember a russia before the enputin. as these young men and women enteentered the workforce to confront institutions in both the public and private sectors that have been completely assimilated into the architecture and are left with a choice to either be co-opted into this system or ejected from it. while putin is a central figure responsible for russia's descent into the rule, he is not the only one. the strawmen of the kremlin is surrounded by a loyal group who aided anaid and abet the presid, complicit in the robbery of the russian people in the sad state of russian democracy. moreover, they enable the kremlin to export its brand into
neighboring countries, transforming corruption into a potent geostrategic weapon. our briefing today will examine the dynamics of the closest circle in order to establish who most strengthens hand and if it's from his rule. additionally, briefers analyze how these cronies advanced putin's goals and interests. we are grateful to have such distinguished panelists with us here today. i look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important issue. first, we have brian whitmore who joins us all the way from prague. he is a senior russian analyst and also writes the power vertical blog. prior to joining in 2007, he worked eight years for the "boston globe." first and the globe moscow
bureau and later as a central and eastern europe correspondent based in prague. following brian, we have delia. and i understand your wife just had a baby, so thank you so very much for being with us here today rather than at home. ' understand what a sacrifice you are making to talk about this important topic. who joins us from the not the russian federation but the free russia foundation, where she is a research expert and an academy associate. in addition, he has free speech llc which runs a project on the export of corrosive practices from post-soviet states to the west. we will then hear from the doctor was a senior fellow at the atlantic council and a professor at georgetown
university. a leading specialist on economic policy in russia, ukraine and eastern europe and worked as an economic adviser to the president of ukraine from 1994 to 1997. following, we have marios -- help me out here, who joins us even further away than prague, a senior analyst at the institute for public an analysts and formr fellow at the hudson institute. a highly regarded journalist from lithuania comey has been reporting on russian domestic and foreign policy for over two decades. and finally, we will hear from ambassador daniel fried at the atlantic council. one of the u.s. government's
foremost experts on russia and the former soviet spear. his career in the service stand over four decades and seven presidencies. wow. ending earlier this year when he retired from his post at the state department coordinator on sanctions policy. very relevant for this discussion. we will conclude with a q&a session. i would like now to give the floor to the first panelist, brian whitmore, who will provide us with an overview of the russian political system. the floor is yours. >> should i start again or did everybody hear me. i can't say how delighted i am that this issue is finally get attention. we've been talking the last few years about the information and
seminars. i am enjoying all of them but harping on the issue that we need to broaden the aperture of office because the information is just one of the things the kremlin has organized and in my opinion, the most important thing that weaponize is his corruption. i will start by saying i think it is a bit misleading to characterize as simply cryptography because this implies the regime's primary aim is the enrichment of the elite and i don't think this is the case. russian corruption has been instrumentalist here at home and it's been weaponize abroad. the domestic role of corruption is to control the ob and maintain its loyalty. they monetize their positions so long as they remain politically loyal and politically useful to the putin regime. only those who proved disloyal
or not useful are ever prosecuted. when there's a corruption case, the first question i ask myself is not that he or she do what he or she is accused of giving because of course they did. but who did they cross politically, what happened? that's always the first question to ask in a corruption case in this regime. internationally, it's been weaponize and used as a tool of statecraft. the kremlin seeks to capture deletes and establish networks of influence abroad by ensnaring officials in corrupt deals and i'm not going to get into the hills because house because i wt brief to go into the details later. moreover, the russian state has these ideological elements to it. it's what i call the two russians.
sometimes the ideological russia do in the work hand in glove and by ideological russia i mean the project to essentially make russia a great again to bring it back up off of its means to restore it to what it believes to be its rightful place as a world power. sometimes corruption and ideology go hand in hand but at other times they are in tension with each other and operate at cross purposes. closely related is the weaponization of the russia organized crime which is also used as a tool of statecraft. but just as it is incorrect to classify russia, it's also incorrect to classify it as a mafia state as many do. more accurately, as my friend and colleague wrote in a recent
report on the council for foreign relations, russia is a state with a nationalized mafia. the securities upgrade closely with organized crime and often precipitating their activities as the result of security services they are able to establish the so-called black account which has untraceable cash that can be used for all sorts of off the books operations and influence operations abroad and i could go into a little more detail about this but i will keep my opening remarks brief. they are often pressed into service to perform tasks the kremlin wants to keep its fingerprints off which is smuggling weapons in, fascinating troublesome dissidents in london and so on and so forth. with an iced corruptioweaponized organized crime are also part of a larger non- kinetic arsenal.
of my favorite talking points is a headline i passed out to the other panelists. that is that corruption was the new communism. black cash is the new red menace. it has to be looked at this way. the something that is spreading from moscow and it's spreading as a tool of influence. and if you think about this, communism, despite its faults and of course they were legion, did attempt to appeal to universal human ideals and aspirations. although in practice it often worked against these ideals. corruption on the other hand appeals to the most universal and basest human instincts. that of greed. sadly, it's often in sync with human nature which makes the new red menace more dangerous than the old one. finally, i'll say corruption
today is not just a matter of good governance anymore. it's not something we want to fight just because we want to be honest and good, although we do. corruption is a national security issue of the highest order. and needs to be treated as such. thank you. paul: thank you very much, brian. for that fascinating overview. as well as the sorts of elaborations on how the regime exactly is structured, that it's not simply a rule by thieves, it has these ideological components to it. i read your article, corruption is the new communism today. just an incredible piece. i think that framing the issue in those terms is precisely the way that u.s. foreign policy need to be approaching this topic. so with that i'll hand the floor to ilya. ilya: thank you for coming. as brian correctly said, this topic is out in the open. everyone discussing it. and quickly transferred from not discussing it to a term which i
recently heard, outrage fatigue. everyone understands the problem, but no one knows how to handle this unbelievable flow of information about kleptocracy and what to do with it. i've been studying this topic since at least 2011. been a junior expert with other people and senior experts on russia and europe, warning about national security implications of corruption for the west. coming from post-soviet space. even before aggression against ukraine happened, i predicted in 2013 that, especially russian plutocracy, are taking their corrosive practices and corruption to europe and the
u.s.. over at least 25 corrupt or corrosive channels, including media manipulation of information, \[inaudible] -- universities and so forth. in this briefing i want to put forward a further warning and prediction. i think the west, especially the u.s. as leader of the democratic world, has been so negligence and appeasing of post-soviet corruption of democratic values under putin that even on the best case scenario, russian plutocracy will not be eradicated. the best the west can hope right now, from now on, is to try to attempt to contain negative global impact of rampant plutocracy coming and try preserving its own democratic institutions. in a nut shell this problem is
really no longer just about russia or post-soviet. it's really about the u.s. and the west. in my research paper that is slated to come out in the next month, i really want to emphasize the incidence of nonstate actors or supposed known state actors coming from post-soviet space. the biggest difference with the soviet union is that not only there is this seeming sort of business interactions between supposedly private sector states and in the west, but the nature of transactions has changed considerably. and there is little understanding in my view in the west, despite ample evidence that, really from soviet times, we now see fusion of three different worlds. and values coming from
post-soviet space, in one elite. so, in soviet times, we used to have three different worlds. communist party, k.g.b. and law enforcement. and actual organized crime. they were actually quite antagonistic and conflicting, especially at some important points. but now i would argue that current political elite, especially in russia, but also in surrounding post-soviet states, they took the worst, but him most practical, values and business practices from each of the free world an amalgamated them into one. my friend -- \[inaudible] -- an investigative journalist -- him \[inaudible] -- have been showing that especially in st.
petersburg in 1990's, putin has already tested all this free world and practices from those free world. and he came to power with a team which has been experienced and used networks from all those free worlds. i think one of the important conclusions of that study and others is that we do in the free russia foundation is that there are no systemic or any kind of liberals in russian government. it's a big myth. in which is still somehow spread a in europe, especially in countries that -- like finland or germany, that still cooperate with russia on many business levels. so people have been implicated in those years under putin, even in st. petersburg. go together with putin. i would argue -- recently i
highly recommend a study that just came out. it's emblematic that militant the security raises this question. russian style corporate rate something one of the most widespread mechanisms of operation of especially big businesses in russia. doesn't want to implement any consistent measures to protect businesses. previously, last year, in the him and report for free russia foundation -- \[inaudible] -- i also argue that the term oligarch is no longer meaningful really. in fact, it is commonly widespread, but there's a dangerous mistake in the west to believe that a private businessman and market economy exists in russia. it doesn't. it's been hijacked by criminal groups. security services. and business in russia really means tax breaks, sponsors from kremlin, and these oligarchs are
really now cash handlers of cash flows that are allowed by putin. and also kremlin has special compromising material or other leverage over their life. even if the previously considered oligarchs, they live in the west and appear to be western business men and have looks and lifestyle and lawyers like western business men, they're actually putin's handlers. because they're based in russia really. but they want to spend money and sort of enjoy the best of two worlds. this brings me to my second major point. kleptocracy in russia is not something residual. i believe there are strong indicators that we're passing through times when, as in 1930's, the very existence of liberal western capitalism, with ideals of good government -- \[inaudible] -- i call this phenomenon g-13 versus g-7 in g-20.
in fact, g-7 itself could be, you know, not seen as that much about western liberalism. if you look at countries like italy or etc. so we see that most developing countries seem to be learning worst kleptocratic government and business practices and capitalism based on the rule of law and proper separation of powers is no longer an ideal for societies where people have adapted to sophisticated and often seemingly comfortable and acceptable forms of state level corruption. so corruption is a new accepted norm on many, many levels in societies, both in the west and in post-soviet space and elsewhere. so together with free russia foundation and the group of 2,000 activists around the world, we are preparing a launch of a research project called
undermineness, which you mentioned in my introduction. i think this is a new term that we believe is more relevant than oligarchs and other nonstate actors. it basically shows that we have a whole group of people and actors, nonstate actors, but connected with kleptocratic regimes who actively undermine democracy in the u.s., while enduring illicit profits in russia and spending them in the west. i believe these individuals and corperations learned even more sophisticated financial methods to advance their own interests. there are multiple examples which i want to go into here in this session. what can we do? i have one minute to discuss this. with this outrage fatigue. i think we need a new system of containment against russian and other post-soviet kleptocracy that will enforce strictly existing laws will create more up to date laws that deal with today's international corruption and subversion, especially in regard to unanimous companies in
offshore jurisdictions. something which kleptocracy initiative of the hudson institute is doing very well and many other anti-corruption groups are now discussing in washington especially. i also think we need to build awareness among western general public that will link -- that will create this understanding, acknowledgment, in the minds of people about the link between transnational kleptocracy and erosion of democracy in the west. so far i've seen very few actual examples of it. so people in london now finally realize that kleptocrats from around the world are raising real estate prices. i will finish my presentation with a warning that the price we pay today in the west to stop kleptocracy is considerable and we have to understand that there will be a price. we need to, especially in the
business sector, we need to do containment. we need to really prevent some of the cash flows especially. but also many, many hours at different levels of subversion and corruption. this price is still much smaller than the one that we're likely to be forced to pay tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. paul: thank you very much. i think your comment that oligarch is no longer meaningful is an extremely important point to hit home. steven colbert recently went to russia and did a little piece on a day with oligarchs. these oligarchs aren't really oligarchs. they're cronies of putin. that's what they are. it's certainly not like it was and to a point still is in ukraine where the oligarchs have a competitive political environment. these guys aren't competing with one another. they're just working for putin.
i'd also like to back up your comments on the work of the kleptocracy. give a shoutout to charles davidson. i see you hiding there in the audience. who is joining us today. he was a panelist at a briefing we did last month, two months ago, on asset recovery. and he talked a lot about the corruption services industry. in the west. where lawyers and bankers are ready and willing and advertise to take these funds and hide them in the west. so as far as you say so negligent and appeasing, yes, very much so in the west. i'll hand it over to the doctor now. anders: thank you very much, paul. and the helsinki commission for this invitation. indeed i think the cryptography is a very important topic. when i worked as an economic advisor to the government, my vision of corruption was like this. a pyramid, little at the top and a lot of the bottom. then, change like this, the. amid was inverted, lots of
corruption at the top and little at the bottom. it works much better now than it used to but now it looks like this. it has become an atomic mushroom with all the corruption at the top and i think there's been two important things said. organized crime and oligarchy are over. they have been assumed by the state and in addition is the considerable extent they have been legalized. vladimir putin is a lawyer and he thanks about legalizing many of the things that he is doing. it's more a matter of how the system functions whether or not it's legal or not.
there are several books about russia and soviet union economic reform. right now it's the final part of the new book with the working title russia's crony capitalism. the main idea is very much vladimir putin has successfully integrated enrichment of the elite in his economic system. i would say i see the russian economic system today and power system as four different circles. the first circle is state power and judicial power are no independent court in russia. therefore there are no real property rights.
if you have it abroad, why bother getting it in russia because it stops here enrichment. also the state corporation. russia's state sector, 12 years ago, according to official russian statistics, generated 35% of gdp. today it is 70% of gdp. the big state companies are buying out the other companies from the former oligarchs weekly at half the price because the oligarchs are not allowed to sell to one another or to foreigners. they have to sell to vladimir putin's friends were to state companies and then the prices are at most half of what they should be there for we can see that the prices on russian stock exchange are extremely low. if you think the most
outstanding state company, it was worth, at the peak on the london stock exchange, $369 billion. today it is down to $50 billion. this is an extreme example but it's not atypical. in 2007 vladimir putin did something quite extraordinary. he transformed six big state companies with one to state corporations which are called nongovernmental organizations. he effectively privatized assets of more than $1 billion of value. you wonder who controls these nongovernmental organizations.
well, of course it's vladimir putin who controls at all. there's a third circle that is the cronies. four of them have been sanctioned by the u.s. government. [inaudible] this is the real vladimir putin circle. these are not kgb people. they don't work in state companies. they are his real friends whom the u.s. government assumes is a part of newton's wealth. analyzing this, you wonder how do they make the money. essentially in two ways. asset stealing, that is they buy assets, financial control companies and television
companies cheaply and they get big state procurement orders that are massively inflated. and there's no competition because these are vladimir putin's friends and everyone knows they've been given it. looking at the numbers, i come to the assessment that 10 - $20 billion. year has been taken out by this group of essentially half a dozen people. if you added up, this is 100 - $200 billion that has been taken out by this small group of people. of course a consequence of this is there's not much corrupt avenues left for the others. corruption in russia today,
it's quite legalized. they get the state procurements legally and it's very concentrated, but what i will shock you with is the fourth circle. that is the west. this would not happen in the way it does without the west. after this money goes through cypress, the cyprus is only a channel. then it goes to some caribbean island, a british virgin island is typical. then it goes to two places. london and new york, or the u.s. more broadly. it goes through anonymous companies. it can also be in wyoming and south dakota. this should not happen, but it does. the other problem is that the money passes not through the
bank system which is properly regulated, but through law firms by well renowned law firms who consider this to be attorney-client privilege. in this way, wall street journal had an article on the 2h of december last year that at least $40 billion. year goes into this country in this fashion. these are the two things i suggest we should focus on stopping. there should be no anonymous companies whose beneficiary owners are not known and there should be absolutely not any accepted transfers of money through law firms backed by
the bank system. these are the two suggestions i have that the united states congress should really do something about. thank you. >> thank you very much for that comprehensive analysis. you have been such a wealth of knowledge for the commission for so long. thank you once again for running us through such an important thing. to reiterate your circles. one is state power, after sb, another is state corporations, three are the cronies and friends of vladimir putin and four is us. that's a lot to digest. the floor is yours. >> thank you. i would like to thank the organizers were getting here and i would like to give credit to to institutions, i work for them for a year and wrote a report to them and i
really believe these guys in the focused initiative. they are the best in terms of expertise. the other institution i would like to mention is the institution. [inaudible] think we in the baltic region in eastern europe, we have something to share with you because almost everything you are expressing here in the united states were in western europe, we have experienced a ready. information war, economic
influence, you name it. everything we have experienced already. i will try to speak today about this particular experience because i believe you will find some parallels to the processes in the west. first of all i would like to say i was asked to talk about autocracy. i should say it's not a tool, it's a weapon. it's not only vladimir putin, it's also about the system. his regime weapon i sent cryptography and it's not only about certain goals. the second thing is, we are
dealing with not a normal steestate, we are dealing with mafia state and that makes a difference. they are rejecting all kinds of influence which is not usual to state influence. talking about our experience, he said he started to be interested in these topics in 2013. i started to be interested and work on this in 2003. it was because i don't know how many of you know, we have
the criminals because on the list of the people who were related to people with the president and those who were on the u.s. fbi list. i started to work on that and later i look back to the history and i should say this capitalism work cryptography in russia started not in the year 2000 when vladimir putin came to power, it started at least in 1991, or i would say it started even earlier when the communist party and kgb made a plan to transfer money,
huge amounts of money that are different calculations, but at least $50 billion were transferred and up to $100 billion. they are projecting the influence over the rest using this money and using this influence and network of influence. the other example i would like to give you is from our neighboring country latvia. now there is a coalition that is led by the party of the mayor of. [inaudible] and what is interesting about
him, he is definitely not called a russian agent but what's interesting is he started his business in 1991. they tried to not just achieve foreign policy goals, they tried to capture elites of the country and institutions and the ultimate goal, if possible to capture the entire state. first of all not only having other people, now they are
looking again, looking back to history, i can say they projected the russian influence through several governments of latvia which were not called pro- russian. [inaudible] they had clear business relations with russia and were semi- pro- russian, but the thing is when we don't call mr. lindberg as a progression, we should remember he was a guy who publicly called them occupational ones. the thing is no one cares about that and no one looks into the history of his business.
the same thing i should say about, well even u.s. attitudes in 2003 because it was when we were talking about russian influence and a supporter of the impeached president was u.s. ambassador. every day or every second day he went publicly to defend the president saying that he is a normal guy and that it's just about politics, not about russian influence. working on the initiative, i put several documents on the issue so you can find yourself.
to make it to the end, i should say we should look at the issue, having in mind the quotation of the famous prosecutor. i don't remember the exact quotation, but he said about the network of criminals working for the russian regime, he said you know, when the russian state comes for one reason or another to achieve something by the means of the state, they employ criminals. in the same manner they employ cryptography to employ some goals the state can't achieve itself. >> absolutely. thank you. especially for the in-depth look at the perspective of how far back this goes.
i think that is the most surprising thing, starting in 1991 and now in 2017 we are finally taking an in-depth look at it. finally we have ambassador daniel freed who will talk with us about what the united states might be able to do about this. >> thank you. my point of departure is to assume the previous speakers are correct about russian cryptography at the hands of the russian regime. i make this assumption because i agree with it. i need not go over the ground that has been covered. what then do we do? first of all, as was the case during the cold war, nothing will work if we lose political and ideological struggle. we need to have faith in our
own democratic system, in ourselves, in the free world and when we do that, we have a foundation from which to proceed. i say this because now that very foundation is also under attack, both from without, from the russians but also from within, from people not necessarily at all connected with russia so this is a different kind of a struggle. it's not my purpose to go into that, but i want to mention it. secondly, a u.s. policy designed to push back against russian club autocracy needs to be -- there's nothing incompatible against pushing back on russian aggression and seeking those areas of common ground where it may be possible.
i wouldn't be too hopeful about the positive agenda, but you don't rule it out. a second point is this is not, the americans may have discovered this recently, but this has been a problem well before we discovered this on the front pages of our newspapers. europeans have been dealing with this for a long time and the baltic states and poland and bulgaria have been dealing with it since 1991. the answer should not be made in the u.s. it has to be coordinated with europe and within the g-7. that said, what are our options. the first is exposure. we should not let the corruption take place in the shadows, in the darkness.
this is a job principally for nongovernmental organizations. from journalists, for the 21st century cadre of investigative journalists, and that sort of means tech savvy younger people who are adept at exposing influence. they're all over, including in russia. we need to expose what the russians are doing better to amass the ties it. just as it was not popular in the united states to be associated with the soviet union as their agent or is there useful idiot, there should be a price to be paid for doing the kremlin's work for it. secondly, this is more in the
area of government, there is pressure. there are both sanctions and there are enforcement of financial regulations, treasuries and the financial crimes enforcement network is not a sanctions organization but it goes after foreign international crime. they are very good. they need to be, their expertise and resources can be useful in exposing what the russians are doing. secondly, and this requires some discussion, but russian investment is often strategic. they want to buy up elements of a country's infrastructure using cutouts free of money, false fronts. in the united states there is a committee on foreign investment which screens for national security purposes. it works.
it may be that european countries and study that and learn from the example. i understand a body like that can be a hindrance in a bureaucracy to legitimate foreign investment, but when you are dealing with money that isn't what it claims to be, governments may want to provide themselves with protection. now sanctions, they may have a place here. my last job in government was the state department sanctions court nader. i don't want to overestimate or oversell the ability of sanctions to solve the problem, still it is a useful tool. the magnets the act was not designed to go after corrupt officials, it was designed to go after major human rights abusers but it turns out and we know from the panama papers that the corruption at the russian lawyer who was basically murdered because he
uncovered corruption and he had uncovered a lot more than we realized that first. read the panama papers. when you pull on a russian thread come you never know what comes out the other end. the magnets the act seems to bother the russians, so much so that they want to talk about adoptions with just about anybody. adoptions being the euphemism for the deal it would take to roll back the act because the russians imposed a ban on adoptions, american adoptions of russian children as retaliation. when you hear someone talking adoptions with the russians, what it really means is they are talking about getting rid of that act. that was not designed to deal with this problem, but it stumbled into it. threads in russia tend to lead to one another. the global act and the
creation in a way, does explicitly deal with corruption. it is a legislative vehicle, now a law which allows for us to go after corrupt russian officials. in my experience it is hard to demonstrate this, but that means you go to work including nongovernment sources of information, this army of investigative bloggers and tech savvy people i mentioned earlier. the ukrainian sanctions when after vladimir putin cronies by design. they were not intending to make things pleasant for the kremlin after it had invaded one of its neighbors for the second time in ten years. the senate bill which passed
90 - to which is now being taken up on the house on russian sanctions includes among many provisions, to provisions dealing with corruption, one on privatization, allowing the administration to go after individuals who unjustly benefit from privatization. again it may be hard to demonstrate but it is a useful vehicle and more generally, corruption, similar to the act. sanctions are not going to solve the problem but they are a useful tool. i mentioned the various threads that come together. all of the tools i mentioned are useful to the degree that we americans, and the europeans, and the g-7 takes
seriously the challenge of an autocratic russia which wants to export its corruption and seems to be aiming to make the world safe for russian autocracy. that is by weakening democratic institutions and weakening the idea of democracy. let's do things that's an original thought on my part, it's about 200-year-old russian policy from the time of niclas the first. no need to remind a lithuanian about him who used his army to crush every revolution it could reach. better to keep out the infectious ideas of the enlightenment. i do not believe that russia is doomed to live forever its worst history. i don't accept the notion of a civilizational divide.
in russian history, russia does, when it fails at external aggression, it turns to internal reform and has sometimes been successful. the time that gave us world class literature and art and at the beginning of a more modern economic system came as a result of the failure of its aggression and failure in various wars. the crimean war which was a japanese war. i mention this because it's important to remember what it is we're trying to achieve. we are not trying to achieve a weakening of russia. we're trying to achieve a defeat of russia, better to
have a better relationship with that better russia. that is my view being a neighbor of russia may have a more jaundiced view of russian history. >> but remember, the current era reminds me more than any other time period of the early 1980s when russia was hostile to the west, everyone in the world was worried about the outbreak of war and they were beginning to whisper that things cannot go on like this. reagan administration's approach to russia had to periods. reagan appended his more rigid cohort and reached out to gorbachev and maybe that one
of these years i russian attempted internal reform will achieve. rather than and on a note of toughness and heading back, i wanted to talk about the potential of a better future. that time will come, though it is not today. >> thank you very much ambassador freed. great talk. let me add, for the much deeper perspective going back to the 1980s and also going back 200 years and conversely for the shout out to the role of young people in getting this done, both tech savvy and politically engaged. i know there are a lot of politically engaged people in this room. that leads to my first question, we now enter question-and-answer and this is for ilia. in march and june, major protest against corruption broke out.
they led crackdown and imprisonment. does this signify cracks in vladimir putin's regime or is it a splash in the pan. what can be done to provide assistance to those russians who want to see a democratic human rights russia in the future. >> that is a good question that all russians asked themselves and they are divided now as russian opposition is usually divided. i would say definitely a hopeful sign that this new generation of senior students from school and students from universities are in touch with prospects in life and social mobility and the rampant corruption they face and the huge brain drain and immigration out of russia is the only option to really succeed. the question is how sustained
this process can be, and how much resistance young people can provide because one thing that is not realized in the west enough is russia in soviet times was a dramatic experience of state oppression and that's why in my report it's a system of prison and oppression. it's nothing cowardly to say people fear repression and there is a limit to how much people can withstand. many of us in this room, including myself had to leave russia because we faced
unprecedented danger to our lives. i would say, the good way to support, but also to engage in what i would call filtered containment. definitely keep people to people contact and programs. i myself, in 1994 dissipated in a program called freedom support act sponsored by the u.s. congress and i saw thousands of students from countries and then becoming long-term advocates of democracy in their own country, even if they couldn't really enforce their views in a political light. it's a long-term game. i would say i agree with
ambassador freed that one day this regime will collapse. it's inevitable. the question is, it may take a decade or 15 years or a lifetim lifetime. it's a long game which requires a multilayered approach. >> thank you very much. >> three comments. first is about he is focusing on one theme, the top team corruption. it's not about what kind of reforms that should be done. i think this is very wise. this is what you do when you want a democratic breakthrough. the second is about learning from protest in 2011 and 2012 that were very concentrated in moscow and did not excite the
rest of russia and they are trying to engage 200 different cities around russia, the whole country and as he said, he is focusing on the young. the third is quite interesting. it's criticizing one specific person after the other but not vladimir putin. we know what happened to the one who went after vladimir putin. >> thank you very much. given that we are coming up to our time constraint, let's have a half hour from audience questions. i will refrain from asking another question. [inaudible]
>> i don't know what it would look like in the vladimir putin administration, but in a russian reform package would have to involve getting rid of the club photography, opening up the economy, the rule of law at home, and all supported by a better relationship with the west. the russian economic reformers , such as they are make the case that it is precisely russia's hostile relationship with the west and its failure of the rule of law at home which keeps the economy backward. so, you would have a series of liberalizing reforms at home and in anticorruption campaign. that is a little bit hard to imagine under the current leadership only because
president vladimir putin has a bit of the king lear problem. you can't go into retirement after the things you've done to stay king, but the person who knows the state of russian economic reform thinking and can do a better job answering. the con tent of what a reform package would look like. >> doctor osmond. >> i would say that first you need to get rid of the regime. you can't change anything with people who are all dependent on the corrupt system. you have to change the people, the leadership. that's the only way. in order to do that, you need democratic election. only democratic elections of both president and parliament and then after that economic
reform we know how too do. that's not a big problem. >> additional questions. >> right there. [inaudible] i heard a rumor for many years which is that vladimir putin is probably the richest man in the world. for many years i heard he's worth 70 billion now i heard 120 billion. you pointed out why people inside russia can't afford,
literally and figuratively, but i wanted to get your reaction to that. >> before he speaks, can you give your name and organization. >> well he didn't so i didn't either. >> yes i should've brought that up. [inaudible] >> all if all audience numbers could do that, that would be great. >> the simple answer is that we don't know. i think something in the order of $100 billion would be reasonable. as i suggested, they take out 10 - $20 billion of russia each year. what we know from a man who
was involved in 32 offshore companies and he fled the country afraid of losing his life. what he said was that vladimir putin owns about one third in each company. he owns it directly. if you take $200 billion and give him one third, that something like $70 billion in that chunk would make sense, but we can't know. we have no idea how many anonymous companies there are in this country. in britain, prime minister david cameron had a bit more of an ego and said there was 9000 buildings in britain that were owned by anonymous companies. these are normally buildings that cost several million dollars each for this is a lot of money.
>> some things to add to that. to my mind, it's a bit misleading to focus just on vladimir putin. we are usually doing this mistake saying it's about him and his regime and his wealth and his cronies. i would say it's much more about the system itself and the system is based on kgb. it's not just, of course it's a hybrid system, not just kgb but looking through the history in years of the 1990s, someone already mentioned when the kgb and mafia took place, i should say looking back to the history we can say that they were
controlled by kgb in the soviet times so it's based on the kgb and kgb managed. we should look at the year of 1991, what they did at that time and they managed to come back to power in ten years. so answering the previous question, we need to do something with all of the system not just vladimir putin and his cronies. >> thank you. additional questions? >> she will bring you a microphone. >> hello my name is alan and in an intern. i was wondering if you can discuss more about how this
relates to business ties and undermining democracy. >> we will start with brian. >> will give you an example. back in 2010 i was researching an article i ultimately co-authored called the velvet surrender. it was looking at russian influence in the czech republic network of influence. i came across this company that was an energy trading company with a mind bogglingly opaque structure that led. [inaudible] about ten to 12% of the check energy market and the ties to it were unsurprisingly supportive of the kremlin line.
the sites pop up in europe with opaque structures which not surprisingly have a very anti-american line. these are not unrelated to each other when that corrupts the most basic value and with the gene 13 this is an eloquent way we're not in a new cold war right now we have so nervous systems with it teeseven
verses the g third team but they appear to be under so right now. with the subordination of power and based on what we are talking about with the panel today with the coronation of so lot to power. so we don't have to hermetically sealed not by a the iron curtain and they do see it to the other side it is forcing their values to the extent that we let them and that is the operative phrase. this is how i see corruption undermined was a national security threat of the first
money but it is already. so the way to solve this to make our society less full verbal to that kind of interference that brought the west to its current path where we are vulnerable. but a contributing to the problem. >> can we interpret where all this money is coming from? to and from my initial comments him back in september 2015 and with the
european union's state what was really telling for the case for me is what they were investigating it was crucial to understand. with the cigarette ring to facilitate by the federal security service of the russian federation. so this just looks like getting rich off the of cigarette smuggling. so it was creating the black account. so with hugh multiplied that the russian organized crime to be facilitated with and
and britain has said very clearly to get the russian education. >> so let's try to do water to more questions. >> such talk about the corruption of the ideological level so how do those two aspects were how they work in concert?. >> guess i can with the putin project to make a a great power again so there
is good and bad corruption. so to undermine customer credit institutions -- undermining those institutions are would still echo wed morial said earlier everything we experience now they experienced before. but so this works hand in glove of the regime so we can talk about that complex of the structure of this company that buys that energy assets in the czech republic so it is not like
it is in competition with each other with ideological and democratic russia working across purposes and what pooches started to call his inner circle one of the most powerful men in russia loses jobs. with the anti-narcotics that does nothing of the sort. but this side interpreted as putin trying to re in in those elements of the inner circle and work a little bit
harder so this is the attempt to of radiological russia because let's face it is very expensive. so this is what we need to keep our eye on. sometimes they are working hand in glove. >> with that we will conclude the briefing banks to the panel. [applause] [inaudible conversations] announcer: next, part two of our q&a interview with blitzer
prize-winning author david garrow. been prime minister theresa may takes questions from members of the house of commons. after that a conversation marking the 50th anniversary of the detroit riots. ♪ announcer: this week on q&a, part two of our interview with pulitzer prize-winning author dr. david gero. --dr. david garrow. he talked about his book "rising star: the making of barack obama ." which covers president obama's life prior to winning the presidency. you can watch this interview on our website c-span.org. >> david garrow, author of "rising star: the making of barack obama