Governors and mayors leading organized crime gangs.
State Duma deputies laundering money for the mob and running execution squads.
Government ministers treating the state budget like a personal ATM.
That basically sums up a new report by opposition figure Ilya Yashin documenting the criminal activities of the ruling United Russia party.
The 66-page report, titled Russia's Criminal Party, alleges that United Russia has essentially become a vehicle for the political legitimization of organized crime.
But here's the thing.
While in most countries such revelations would be a sensation, in Russia they're greeted with a yawn and a shrug. They're pretty much accepted as business as usual.
The most striking thing about Yashin's report is how unsurprising its findings were.
The close ties between the Russian state and organized crime are well documented by journalists, researchers, and prosecutors.
The Kremlin has long used organized crime groups to do its dirty work, whether it be black ops, weapons smuggling, assassinations, or money laundering.
Russia's mafias are, in fact, a nationalized asset.
Just as is the case with corruption, organized crime isn't a bug in the system -- it's a feature. It's an essential part of Vladimir Putin's regime.
And so it shouldn't be surprising at all that Russia's ruling party just so happens to be infested with criminals.
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