Analysis on the alleged campaign for restoration of social justice in Russia.

There are several explanations for activization of the struggle of the Prosecutor General’s Office against grand salaries of state corporations’ top managers.

First, it does not take a genius to perceive it as interdepartmental rivalry between the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Committee of Investigations. This rivalry has been shaping the relations between these two structures and their attitude toward each other ever since the day the Committee of Investigations was established. Since the war on corruption is on top of President Dmitry Medvedev’s list of priorities and since there is no special structure exclusively designated to deal with this particular predicament, the Prosecutor General’s Office and Committee of Investigations never miss a chance to extoll their successes in this sphere, each structure always presenting itself as best suited for the role of nationwide coordinator of the anti-corruption effort.

Second, it might be explained as the war on state corporations as a global evil. It is clear after all that there are people quite close to the president nowadays who actively dislike state corporations as an embodiment of maximum privileges and minimum duties. Some even call for abolition of state corporations as such. As matters stand, state corporations are divided into two categories – into funds that distribute finances and into businesses. Abolition of the former and return of their functions to the budget will be easy. Businesses (like Russian Technologies) on the other hand are different. They accumulate assets the state turns over to them, so that the subject of their re-privatization cannot help surfacing one fine day. This possibility was acknowledged by the then President Vladimir Putin (who hailed it) and Deputy Premier Aleksei Kudrin (who condemned it), a year ago. So, who stands to benefit from abolition of state corporations, and when, remains to be seen yet.

There is one other nuance in the campaign against state corporations. Now that their future is definitely uncertain, there are no doubts whatsoever that efforts will be made to withdraw from them all more or less promising and valuable assets. Everything possible will be done to ensure this withdrawal. If they really wanted to see the last of state corporations, they should have moved in against them without a warning.

Third, however, it should be admitted that the Prosecutor General’s Office and other controllers including the Auditing Commission actively examine state structures as well (meaning that they are not focused exclusively on state companies and corporations). When they are due, criminal charges for wage arrears are pressed against directors of enterprises regardless of their form of ownership.

All of the above-mentioned are manifestations of a political campaign for restoration of social justice. Onset of the economic crisis attached additional importance to the campaign, particularly when the powers-that-be finally decided that they do need a dialogue with society after all. It is only fair to add that these “socialization” trends are not restricted to Russia alone. Scandals over lavish bonuses and efforts to impose legislative limitations on them are the talk of the day in the United States.

An analogous campaign against hefty bonuses is under way in Russia. These provisions constitute a part of the Cabinet’s anti-crisis program. Even the Duma demands data on the rewards and bonuses paid to directors of the banks with state capitals in them.

In the United States, restriction of business dividends by the state demands a certain shift in mentality. In Russia, however, there are no such problems. According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 47% Russians are convinced that bonuses of absolutely all top managers of all companies ought to be restricted by the law; 23% believe that these restrictions should only be applied to recipients of state support. Forty-nine percent respondents promote state regulation of the size of salaries and bonuses for all managers in time of crisis.

Deployment of security structures in the campaign makes the option of a “search for public enemies” available to the powers-that-be. The same option by the way enables the regime to regulate its subjects’ loyalty.