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The Evictors

Around Moscow, there’s a whole industry of so-called “black creditors” — microfinance institutions (or MFOs) that swindle and seize debtors’ homes. Ivan Golunov’s investigation for Meduza has discovered that almost 500 apartments have been seized from their owners over the past five years without so much as a court order. In fact, this scheme involves more than simply “squeezing” people from their homes. It is possibly part of a wider, international money-laundering system. Here’s Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov on the ins and outs of this industry.

Secret Desires

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This just came from the Associated Press via CNN.  Today, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said of Russia:

“In any country, if you don’t have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development,” Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

“I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma,” said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.

While certainly true, I can’t help wonder that while Rice denounces the Kremlin’s power, she can’t help be a little jealous of Putin.  Especially considering that the American Executive has moved in the same direction over the last decade and a half.   Keep glaring into that mirror Condi.  Often what we denounce is what we secretly desire.

As for a recommended reading tip on the architectural and political isolation of Bush see Todd S. Purdum’s the excellent “Inside Bush’s Bunker.”