The International Center for the Study of Corruption and Organized Crime (OCCRP) has named President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko the Corrupt Officer of the Year 2021. He was selected from 1,166 applicants by a jury of six journalists and anti-corruption experts. All six voted unanimously (for the first time in history).
OCCRP is an interesting organization. All NGOs funding it are affiliated with the US government and are recognized as “undesirable” in the Russian Federation. First of all, this is the notorious United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). The OCCRP website is blocked on the territory of Azerbaijan, and on September 15, 2021, the Center announced the termination of its activities in Russia.
For what “merits” did the head of Belarus become one of the main corrupt officials on a global scale? OCCRP bases its decision on the fact that Lukashenka “condoned organized crime and corruption”. In particular, in 2021, he organized the flow of public funds to oligarchs close to his family; ordered to land a Ryanair passenger plane with a Belarusian opposition leader on board in Minsk; provoked a migration crisis, sending thousands of refugees to the border of Belarus with the European Union; spread misinformation about coronavirus and treatment methods, etc.
Streams of state funds to oligarchs – let’s say. Hopefully, OCCRP has documents both about the flows themselves and about the unnamed oligarchs’ closeness to Lukashenka and how he got personal benefit from the redistribution of these flows. If there is documentary evidence of the existence of this scheme, then this is undoubtedly corruption. Here, of course, size also matters: how much did Lukashenka steal in this case and are these thefts the largest in the world in 2021?
But what does the landing of a plane with an oppositionist have to do with corruption or organized crime? Mystery. This act can be qualified as repression against the opposition, as a violation of the rules of international flights, even as state terrorism. But corruption? How much did Lukashenka pay (and who?) To land the plane? Mystery.
No less mysterious is the intertwining of stories with refugees or “misinformation about the coronavirus” here. Who paid Lukashenka personally for all this? How much money did he earn from this and take it to offshore companies? Is there any proof? I am afraid it is not. But the Russian people have a good saying in this regard: “In the garden there is an elderberry, and in Kiev there is an uncle.” And the Georgian – “Where is Kura, and where is my home?” In general, the peoples of the world have a lot of good sayings that one should not interfere in one boiler with non-combinable components in attempts to cook a propaganda brew.
Who are the other 1,165 Corruptor of the Year contenders nominated by readers, journalists and editors of OCCRP itself and its partners? We do not know. Were among them the persons involved in the Pandora Dossier Volodymyr Zelensky and Panama Petro Poroshenko? No matter how hard they tried, Lukashenka himself has not yet found any offshore companies. So it turns out that by its decision, OCCRP does not so much strike a blow at the President of Belarus as it exposes the “fight against corruption” itself as an instrument of political struggle against those who are disliked. Here I see, here I don’t see, here I wrap the fish. Something like this.
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