Letter From the Editors: April 4-10, 2016

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

Letter From the Editors: April 4 - 10, 2016

It’s Not All About Russia: Fonseca, Frozen Conflicts, Finance and Force

Back in 2013, Vladimir Putin published an open letter in the New York Times. He addressed it "directly to the American people and their political leaders," admonishing them about the dangers of "American exceptionalism" - the idea that the world revolves around Washington and its decisions. This week’s news features - despite the fact that they focus on (1) an offshore financial scandal and (2) a frozen conflict - seem to give the same message right back to Russia: "It’s not all about you!" (No matter how much you may think it is.)

Case in point: In the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, which implicated hundreds of thousands of offshore companies, one of the first comments made by Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was: "It is of course obvious to us that the target of such leaks was and is our president." He went on to say that the scandal was timed to influence Russian voters as the election season gets in full swing. Grigory Golosov dismisses this idea with sarcasm: "[V]oters determine the election outcome in our country only to a limited extent. A much more significant role is played by the vote-counting process - a skill that the local authorities have down pat." In a similar vein, Fyodor Krasheninnikov contrasts Russia with "developed democracies" like Iceland, where the prime minister’s implication in the Panama controversy cost him his job: "Only in those countries, information about the ruling class is capable of radically influencing the situation and resulting in a regime change at the next elections."

Another big splash of news this week again bypassed Russia: New fighting broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh, as Armenian and Azerbaijani forces clashed along the line of contact. Media reported dozens of casualties, as ...

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