Russia's 'Crime Of The Century' Highlights Importance Of Anonymous, Public Whistleblowing
from the corruption-runs-deep dept
About a month ago, a few people sent in this horrifying story from Foreign Policy magazine, written by lawyer Jamison Firestone, concerning how one of the partners in his Moscow-based law firm helped uncover a massive crime by government officials — who stole approximately $230 million and dumped it into real estate around the world — and was then arrested, tortured, blamed for the theft and murdered in jail for attempting to alert government officials of the corruption and crime. It’s a horrific story for anyone who believes in the rule of law. Barron’s has a similar story that focuses more on crime itself, and additional evidence that implicates Russian officials — even as Russian officials continued to blame the whistleblower who had actually alerted authorities to the suspicious behavior before the full theft had even taken place. That article also mentions that many of the same government officials were apparently involved in a similar heist of $107 million a couple years earlier.
While some may chalk this sort of thing up to the level of corruption found in Russia today — which is known to be extensive — it seems that this story also highlights the importance of the ability to blow the whistle on corruption through anonymous means that will make such findings public — such as Wikileaks. Wikileaks certainly may have its own problems, and hopefully newer platforms will improve upon its lead, but the ability to expose such crimes without then being tortured, murdered and blamed for the crimes seems like an important thing.
Similarly, in our discussions on Bradley Manning — who is accused of sending info to Wikileaks (though, according to many, the information Manning had access to was also available to over one million others, meaning that plenty of people may have passed it along to Wikileaks or others) — we’ve had people insist that if he found wrongdoing, he should have just reported it to his superiors. The lesson from the story in Russia is that you have to actually trust the superiors to make that reasonable. Manning did not, perhaps for very good reasons. That’s not to say that the level of corruption in the US government is on par with the level of corruption in Russia. I don’t think anyone believes that. But, it does highlight why someone might reasonably feel that reporting illegal acts by their own government to their own government may not always be the best course of action if the goal is stopping such activities.