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Corruption That Glows In the Dark

Blasting Off From Plesetsk
Maybe we’re funny, but there are two words that we at "Outpost" really don’t like to hear in the same sentence: “corrupt” and “radioactive.” Especially when the country in question is Russia.

Yesterday’s edition of the Russian newspaper "Kommersant" broke the news that Anatoly Bashlakov, who retired from the army a few years ago with the rank of lieutenant general, has just been sentenced to seven years in jail for accepting bribes. Both the criminal investigation (which apparently has been going on for some time) and the trial were conducted under conditions of tight secrecy, but the newspaper’s reporter managed to find out that Bashlakov’s offense dated back to a period when he was in command of Plesetsk Cosmodrome between 2003 and 2007. Apparently he accepted a bribe of 700,000 rubles (about $24,400) from a company that wanted to dispose of radioactive waste that was stored at the base.

OK, fine. We understand that radioactive waste isn't as dangerous as weapons-grade uranium. But you can't help but ask whether intelligence services in the U.S. and other Western countries, preoccupied as they are with wars in South Asia and revolt in the Arab world, are still paying attention to the dangers of proliferation in places like Russia.

As far as this case goes, this is all we know for the moment, and that may be all we ever know. In any event, it certainly isn’t the sort of thing that’s calculated to make you feel more secure about the state of the world.