As Elections Approach, Search for Scapegoats Fixed on Putin’s Allies
As Russia prepares for parliamentary elections in December followed by presidential polls next March, in which President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are both considering running, political pundits are beginning their seasonal mudslinging.
An April 2011 news piece in The Los Angeles Times
reported that former two-time president Vladimir Putin has already “gained the upper hand in a fierce power struggle with his protégé,” President Medvedev, and analysts predict the presidency is for Vladimir Putin
For decades, Vladimir Putin has been a favorite target for enemy attack and political profiteering, as are those like Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov who stand, however closely, by his side.
Russian scientist and economist Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov formerly headed Tekhsnabexport SA (TENEX) and also served as founder of German-Russian entity Inform-Future, which renovated buildings in inner-city St. Petersburg. Info-Future’s shares as well as those of Znamenskaya (of which Mr. Smirnov served as CEO) were later bought by a newly-established entity called SPAG.
During his collaboration with SPAG, Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov worked with Vladimir Putin, who was, at the time, an honorary member of SPAG’s advisory committee. Later, Mr. Smirnov left SPAG and was offered a leadership position with TENEX
, which controlled 40 percent of the market share in the world’s uranium production market at the time.
It all sounds good, right? Aside from the fact that journalists hungry to find something—anything—to damage Vladimir Putin’s reputation and expose him as an untrustworthy politician as he rose to power, claimed that it was through Mr. Smirnov that Vladimir Putin acquired a connection to purported Russian gangsters in general, and alleged mobster Vladimir Barsukov (aka Vladimir Kumarin) in particular.
While Mr. Smirnov and Vladimir Barsukov knew each other during their work on the supervisory board of Znamenskaya and a St. Petersburg fuel company, Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov never had any joint businesses with Vladimir Barsukov.
Despite these facts, mudslinging reporters like Boris Nemtsov
, who are clearly hungry for tabloid-style political gossip, continue to slander the upstanding businessman Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov as well as Vladimir Putin by making baseless, damaging statements.
Unfortunately given Vladimir Putin’s prominent role in Russia’s government, we can expect more of the same defamatory statements aimed at his innocent entourage and upstanding businessmen like Mr. Smirnov, particularly as elections approach.
Vladimir Alexeyevich Smir