An international mess fell right in Russian president Vladimir Putin’s lap when American NSA-leaker Edward Snowden showed up at an airport in Moscow and eventually asked for asylum. And if that wasn’t enough for one week, President Obama decided not to meet with him at the upcoming G-20 conference, a brazen snub that Putin likely could have done without.
And the beat goes on between the US and Russia as it has for decades, though the two resemble toothless, fang-less tigers now as they take half-hearted swipes at one another. So there’s that. It’s a good bet the Putin-ninny didn’t wake up with a giggle about that one.
Perhaps even more worrisome for the Russian potentate was when news hit the wire that he sent a flunky, Boris Titov, out to scour the prison camps in search of entrepreneurs who might be amenable to an amnesty agreement that would get them out of the gulag and put them to work helping get the anemic economy turned around. With nearly one in every ten prisoner of the white-collar variety, the country has inadvertently imprisoned a large portion of the businessmen and women who might be able to make some progress against a 1.6 percent growth rate.
As quoted in the New York Times, this is a highly unusual stimulus response. In a stupefying display of candor, Titov went on to say that the government had “overreacted” to the threat of organized crime and over-prosecuted entrepreneurs during Putin’s first twelve years as crackpot dictator – err – president and prime minister.
Yep, in Russia jailing the best business minds is the order of the day. The Times article goes on to recount several examples of wrongful imprisonment, including a man, Ruslan Tyelkov, who was busted for copyright infringement after ordering 25,000 yards of leopard-print fabric in order to start an upholstery business.
At the time, Tyelkov laughingly protested to police, asking, “Who owns the copyright, a leopard?” After a spending a year in pre-trial detention, it didn’t seem quite so hilarious, though it eventually came to light that the police had actually colluded with a competitor of Tyelkov’s, seizing the merchandise so it could be sold for pure profit.
Now that’s old-style Soviet entrepreneurialism for you. Papa Joe Stalin would have been so proud.
Stories like this make Putin look like a world class jackass and a very bad man. So how was your week? Jason Hartman went to Iceland. (Top image: Flickr | loSonoUnaFotoCamera)
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The Solomon Success Team