Political corruption is not a new story, but these recent RFE/RL reports expose the heights to which it reaches and the risks for those caught up in the process.
Russian opposition figure and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov says up to $30 billion has been stolen from funds allocated to next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, and in an interview with Radio Svoboda, says President Vladimir Putin’s cronies running the operation “are a real threat to Russia’s national security.” (Also from Radio Svoboda: Construction workers from Chechnya at the Sochi Olympic sites express their discontent with the construction company management, saying they are not paid on time and are discriminated.)
The Kyrgyz parliament is calling for the ouster of nearly a dozen high-ranking officials who they say orchestrated the release of a Chechen criminal boss from jail. Aziz Batukaev was freed from a Naryn prison and flown to Chechnya in April after Kyrgyz officials ruled he was suffering from leukemia and required urgent medical treatment. But Kyrgyz lawmakers now say Batukaev’s illness was a ruse, and have even presented pictures of the crime boss smoking and enjoying a sumptuous meal while in prison. Correspondents Zairbek Baktybaev and Daisy Sindelar report.
The U.S.-based NGO Human Rights Watch has slammed Azerbaijan for arresting political opponents on spurious drugs charges in the run-up to the country’s October presidential election. As correspondent Robert Coalson reports, Baku is not alone in using such tactics to muzzle dissent.