That’s democracy at work!

This is an epic piece of humilitaion. Oleg Deripaska. Russia’s richest man (note: you hold that title until Putin says so) is made to reopen a factory despite the fact that it is privately owned and losing vast amounts of money after the collapse of aluminium prices in 2009. The workers protested, Putin flies in, just off hunting semi-naked some other defenceless animals, gives a speech and forces the owner to re-open the factory. You have made thousands of residents hostage to your ambition, your lack of professionalism and perhaps your greed.” “Come here and sign,” Mr Putin instructed Mr Deripaska, pointing to an agreement to restart the factory and holding out a pen. Mr Deripaska signed. “My pen—give it back,” Mr Putin then snapped. No doubt who works for who you think.

Of course, the truth is far more cozy than that. From the Economist:

The stony-faced presenters did not tell viewers that the agreement had in fact been reached before Mr Putin’s visit, nor did they mention that state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB) had agreed to extend a $4.5 billion loan to Rusal for another year, even though the amount exceeds its normal limit on exposure to a single firm. The public would have been even more surprised to learn that a state bank would soon be offering to invest in Rusal’s planned initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong. The rescue of Mr Deripaska, in turn, is a sign of the ever-closer ties between the Kremlin and Russia’s oligarchs.

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