Final Word from Monday, November 3, 2003





If the CR has an equivalent to Russia's Yukos affair, it's IPB. They both involved masked police officers who arrested businessman at gunpoint and seized huge assets amassed in dodgy privatization deals. It's ironic that Czech President Václav Klaus, who criticized the IPB raid as a bank heist in broad daylight, should meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin just hours after Putin's men froze 44% of Yukos' shares. After the IPB raid, Klaus indirectly stood up for the same kind of people whom Putin put in prison. Perhaps Klaus' trip to Russia will teach him something. If future privatization sales in the CR get bogged down in allegations of corruption, it could lead to the reexamination of past deals. Klaus doesn't have much control today over the sale of the coal mines or the purchase of fighters, but it could be in his interest to demand transparency and fairness.

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