As we reported earlier this week, it was revealed by the Panama Papers that the law firm Mossack Fonseca sometimes used the name of the International Red Cross as a beneficiary of its shell companies in order to lend them prestige. Now the Red Cross has responded.
Although these arrangements were made completely unbeknownst to the Red Cross, the records pose a very serious reputational threat to the international non-profit, as well as a real physical threat to its staff. The ICRC spokesperson Claire Kaplun expressed these concerns very well in her interview with the Associated Press:
“We work in conflict zones. We work without weapons. Our protection is our name, our emblem, the faith that people have in our reputation. Let’s say this money was linked to a warring party in a conflict. Imagine what consequences that could have.”
British journalist Shaun Walker traveled three hours out of Moscow to the town of Kimry to find out why most Russians just don't care whether President Vladimir Putin is corrupt or not.
Outside the liberal online bubble of the politically active, most Russians who have heard about the Panama disclosures remain unmoved by them. When TV Rain, an independent channel, questioned Muscovites in the city’s White Square business district, many said it was quite normal for people to help out their friends, and that they didn’t see anything wrong with the president keeping some money to one side.
In Kimry, people are not so much approving as resigned to the idea. “Look, I don’t know what the point of making all these accusations and stirring up trouble is,” said Yaroslav, a 42-year-old factory worker. “So what if Putin is corrupt? There are two types of rulers: good corrupt rulers and bad corrupt rulers. At least Putin is trying to do good for the country.”
Russian investigative journalist Yulia Latynina has been thinking about the Panama Papers and the revelations about President Vladimir Putin's cellist friend, Sergei Roldugin. She notices that the transfer of funds to Roldugin came from Dagestani billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. The Jamestown Foundation has this English account of Latynina's reporting.
Roldugin has been a long-time friend of Putin. And Kerimov only transferred money to Roldugin during the period when he was politically in need. Not before. Not after. So how does a transfer of money to Roldugin buy Kerimov a favor in a time of need? Latynina notes that the relationship between power and money in Russia is at once inseparable and indirect. Therefore, she speculates, no one should believe that the $2 billion that Roldugin is in control of is entirely at his disposal. Of course, being close to Putin has financial benefits. But this money, naturally, is a supply of funds that would be available to Putin should he wish to access it.
How international aid flows into Africa and illegal capital flows out: