Final Word from Thursday, July 31, 2014

Few people outside of Russia know much about Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, but their names came to the fore this week when Arkady was added to the EU sanctions list. They are friends of Putin's who made their first money selling pipes to Gazprom. Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny noted in his blog this month that compared to Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, they live in phenomenal luxury. Russian journalist Yulia Latynina argues that a palace like that of the Rotenbergs is a testament to their membership in a social system that has nothing to do with capitalism. What she apparently had in mind was a form of feudal kleptocracy. Petr Kellner, who according to Forbes is twice as wealthy as Arkady and Boris Rotenberg combined, lives in comparative squalor. (See here and here.) Czech oligarchs might not be capitalists either, by Latynina's definition, but at least they don't rub it in so much. [Czech Republic cleptocracy Apple Berkshire Hathaway Facebook Vladimir PPF]

Glossary of difficult words

to the fore - in or to a conspicuous or leading position;

squalor - a state of being extremely dirty and unpleasant, esp. as a result of poverty or neglect;

to rub something in - to emphatically draw one's attention to an embarrassing or painful fact.


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