Fusion of state and criminal world in Russia even more dangerous than absence of democracy, Pastukhov says

Vladimir Putin's wrestling coach, the person who reportedly helped him get admitted to the Leningrad State University using his connections, was one of the city's top criminals, had served 20 years in prison, and died in a gang battle at 57. Putin admiringly wrote about him in his memoirs called "From the First Person" without using the coach's surname or mentioning his criminal links (for obvious reasons). As the engraving on his grave stone states, the coach Leonid Ionovich Usvyatsov composed the epitaphs himself. [Translator: Please note that in the original Russian the epitaphs crudely rhyme, but the translation did not attempt to reproduce rhyming prioritizing accuracy instead.] The epitaph on the front panel says: "A grave and on the grave there is an epitaph: 'I am dead, but mafia is immortal.'" The back panel is engraved with the following epitaphs: "Hooray! I finally died!!! All of my life I worked for broads like a slave. Now I won't spend a kopeck on this liver sausage anymore." "I gave her my two final bangs and then was carried away on a hearse." "Let's drink to us all, because the curtain will soon fall." (Image: openrussia.org)Russia has only rarely been a democracy and certainly is not one now, Vladimir Pastukhov says; but the fusion of the state and the criminal world that occurred in the 1990s and continues to this day is something new and is if anything more dangerous for the country than the absence of democracy. The London-based …

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