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The Daily Vertical: Doubling Down On Graft (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

If you thought the Russian economy couldn't get any less transparent, you'd better think again.

Because when it comes to procurement, the Kremlin has just decided to play hide the football.

According to a report in Vedomosti, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed decrees allowing Russian state corporations, the Defense Ministry, the Federal Security Service, and the Foreign Intelligence Service to hide data on suppliers and subcontractors until next July.

The report cited officials from Rosneft and Roskosmos as saying the companies don’t want to disclose this information because it would reveal how they are circumventing Western sanctions.

It also cited government officials as lamenting the fact that foreigners are able to get this data just by going online and viewing the official Russian procurement website.

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Of course, in addition to helping the Kremlin evade Western sanctions, Medvedev's decrees also have the collateral effect of making it even easier for officials to hide corrupt practices.

And on this note it is important to remember that Western sanctions are not simply punitive. They're also defensive.

Because Vladimir Putin's regime has skillfully weaponized corruption, using shady deals with Russian companies as a tool to establish networks of influence in the West.

Sanctions have blunted Russia's corruption weapon to a degree.

And it is now clear that Moscow's response to this will be to make its economy, already one of the most graft-infested in the world, even more corrupt.

I guess you can call it corruption escalation.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

NOTE TO POWER VERTICALISTAS: I will be in Tbilisi speaking at conferences next week. As a result, no Power Vertical products will appear from Dec. 4-7 inclusive.