How powerful do you have to be to be able to simply ignore a summons to appear in a Russian court?
How well-connected do you need to be to get away with something so brazen?
Whom do you have to know in order to enjoy such impunity?
Well, it appears that being a longtime crony of Vladimir Putin is sufficient. And that, of course, shouldn't surprise us.
Yesterday, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin ignored a summons to testify at the corruption trial of former Economics Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev.
Now the Ulyukayev case is no ordinary corruption trial.
He's the first sitting minister to be arrested in Russia since the 1950s and the case is connected to the controversial privatization of the oil company Bashneft.
Prosecutors say Ulyukayev was caught in a sting operation accepting a bribe from Sechin in exchange for agreeing to support Rosneft's purchase of a 50-percent stake in Bashneft.
Ulyukayev claims he was set up by Sechin and wants to face his accuser in court.
Now the Ulyukayev case and the Bashneft privatization it stems from are clearly part of a larger and complex struggle among Kremlin clans.
And in that struggle, the court that will decide Ulyukayev's fate is nothing more than a sideshow and a prop.
Sechin understands that the only court that matters in Russia is the court of Vladimir Putin.
And as long as he enjoys Putin's favor, he can get away with anything.
Sechin has reportedly been summoned again to appear in court tomorrow.
We'll see whether he shows up.
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