Oligarchs Or - How the Virgin became a Whore
The Western World was led to believe that Communism, along with
the Berlin Wall, just 'collapsed'. The truth was somewhat different. The following
article by an Israeli journalist allows us a glimpse of what really happened under
the presidency of Boris Yeltsin.
But immediately following on from Uri Avnery's
disclosure, we republish Ivor Benson's 1981 exposé of "The Underground
Millionaires of the Soviet Union". Written over twenty three years ago, the
Soviet Union was even then giving up its secrets, but at the time not too many
Westerners could grasp the significance of what was written. Contrary to Uri Avnery's
understanding 'the virgin was despoiled long ago'.
"This is a TV series
about Russia. But it could have been about Israel. Or about the United States.
It is entitled "The Oligarchs" and is now being screened on Israeli
television. Some of its episodes are simply unbelievable - or would have been,
if they had not come straight from the horses' mouths: the heroes of the story,
who gleefully boast about their despicable exploits.
produced by Israeli immigrants from Russia.
are a tiny group of entrepreneurs who exploited the disintegration of the Soviet
system to loot the treasures of the state and to amass plunder amounting to hundreds
of billions of dollars. In order to safeguard the perpetuation of their business,
they took control of the state. Six out of the seven are Jews.
rule of the few
In popular parlance they are called "oligarchs"
- from the Greek word meaning "rule of the few".
In the first years
of post-Soviet Russian capitalism they were the bold and nimble ones who knew
how to exploit the economic anarchy in order to acquire enormous possessions for
a hundredth or a thousandth of their value: oil, natural gas, nickel and other
minerals. They used every possible trick, including cheating, bribery and murder.
Every one of them had a small private army. In the course of the series they
are proud to tell in great detail how they did it.
But the most intriguing
part of the series recounts the way they took control of the political apparatus.
After a period of fighting each other, they decided that it would be more profitable
for them to cooperate in order to take over the state.
At the time, President
Boris Yeltsin was in a steep decline. On the eve of the new elections for the
presidency, his rating in public opinion polls stood at 4%. He was an alcoholic
with a severe heart disease, working about two hours a day. The state was, in
practice, ruled by his bodyguard and his daughter; corruption was the order of
The oligarchs decided to take power through him. They had almost
unlimited funds, control of all TV channels and most of the other media. (Sounds
very like Australia where 2 men control the state, via the media properties they
own - The Editor) They put all these at the disposal of Yeltsin's re-election
campaign, denying his opponents even one minute of TV time and pouring huge sums
of money into the effort.
(The series omits an interesting detail: they secretly
brought over the most outstanding American election experts and copywriters, who
applied methods previously unknown in Russia.)
The campaign bore fruit
Yeltsin was indeed re-elected. On the very same day he had another heart
attack and spent the rest of his term in hospital. In practice, the oligarchs
ruled Russia. One of them, Boris Berezovsky, appointed himself Prime Minister.
There was a minor scandal when it became known that he (like most of the oligarchs)
had acquired Israeli citizenship, but he gave up his Israeli passport and everything
was in order again.
By the way, Berezovsky boasts that he caused the war in
Chechnya, in which tens of thousands have been killed and a whole country devastated.
He was interested in the mineral resources and a prospective pipeline there. In
order to achieve this he put an end to the peace agreement that gave the country
some kind of independence. The oligarchs dismissed and destroyed Alexander Lebed,
the popular general who engineered the agreement, and the war has been going on
In the end, there was a reaction: Vladimir Putin, the taciturn
and tough ex-KGB operative, assumed power, took control of the media, put one
of the oligarchs (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) in prison, caused the others to flee (Berezovsky
is in England, Vladimir Gusinsky is in Israel, another, Mikhail Chernoy, is assumed
to be hiding here- Israel.)
Since all the exploits of the oligarchs occurred
in public, there is a danger that the affair might cause an increase in anti-semitism
in Russia. Indeed, the anti-semites argue that these doings confirm the "Protocols
of the Elders of Zion", a document fabricated by the Russian secret police
a century ago, purporting to reveal a Jewish conspiracy to control the world.
(In retrospect) Moving from Russia to America - the same thing happened,
of course, in the US, but more than a hundred years ago.
At the time, the
great "robber barons", Morgan, Rockefeller et al., all of them good
'Christians', used very similar methods to acquire capital and power on a massive
scale. Today, it works in far more refined ways.
In the present election campaign,
the candidates collect hundreds of millions of dollars. George W. Bush and John
Kerry both brag about their talent for raising enormous sums of money. From whom?
From pensioners? From the mythical "old lady in tennis shoes"? Of course
not, but from the cabals of billionaires, the giant corporations and powerful
lobbies (arms dealers, Jewish organisations, doctors, lawyers and such). Many
of them give money to both candidates - just to be on the safe side.
these expect, of course, to receive a generous bonus when their candidate is elected.
"There is no such thing as a free lunch", as the right-wing economist
Milton Friedman wrote. As in Russia, every dollar (or rouble) invested wisely
in an election will yield a ten, or hundred-fold return.
The problem is rooted
in the fact that presidential candidates (and all other candidates for political
office) need ever increasing amounts of money. Elections are mainly fought out
on TV and cost huge sums. It is not a coincidence that all the present candidates
in the US are multi-millionaires.
· The Bush family has amassed
a fortune from the oil business (helped by its political connections, of course.)
· Kerry is married to one of the richest women in America, who was
once the wife of the ketchup king, Henry John Heinz.
· Dick Cheney
was the chief of a huge corporation that has garnered contracts worth billions
· John Edwards, candidate for Vice President, has made a
fortune as a trial lawyer.
From time to time there is talk in America
about reforming election finances, but nothing worthwhile ever comes of it.
None of the oligarchs has any interest in changing a system that enables them
to buy the government of the United States.
In Israel, too, talk about "Money
and Power" is now in vogue. Ariel Sharon and one of his two sons have been
suspected of accepting bribes from a real estate magnate. An indictment was blocked
by the new Attorney General who happened to be appointed by the Sharon government
at the height of the affair.
Another investigation into Sharon and his sons
is still pending. It concerns millions of dollars that reached his election coffers
by roundabout routes, crossing three continents.
Shimon Peres' connections
with multi-millionaires are well-known, as are the huge sums poured out by American
Jewish multi-millionaires for extreme right-wing causes in Israel.
the Russian oligarchs is the part-owner of the second biggest Israeli newspaper.
A political scandal concerning the Israeli Minister for Infrastructure has
mushroomed into an affair involving giant multi-national corporations competing
for contracts for supplying natural gas to the Israeli Electricity Company, an
affair of billions in which underworld figures, politicians and private investigators
play their parts. This disclosure has made it clear to Israelis that here, too,
politicians of the highest rank have long ago been acting as mercenaries for powerful
These facts must alarm everybody who cares about democracy
- in Israel, Russia, the United States and elsewhere. Oligarchy and democracy
are incompatible. As a Russian commentator in the TV series said about the new
Russian democracy: 'They have turned a virgin into a whore.'"
is an Israeli writer and peace activist. Contact him at >email@example.com<
Putin calms business elite
a decade of pumping Russia's fields dry for quick profits amid the chaos of the
Yeltsin era, Russia's tycoons were beginning to behave more like real owners.
The year 2000 marked an important change. Oil prices soared, and Mr. Putin came
to power as president with a calming message for the business elite. The state
wouldn't question whether they'd acquired their companies legally as long as they
started investing their profits at home rather than stashing them in foreign banks."
"Dow Jones Newswires" 26th February, 2003
UNDERGROUND MILLIONAIRES OF THE SOVIET
UNIONby Ivor Benson
When published in the
September, 1981 edition of "The New Times" South African journalist
and political commentator Ivor Benson observed: "What we are seeing today
are the first signs of dramatic change in the picture of the Soviet Union as presented
by the Western media and contemporary historians. In other words, the whole story
of what has happened since the Bolshevik Revolution is going to have to be retold
in a revised form."
He asked, "Is the whole world being prepared
for a further move towards a convergence of the Communist and non-Communist world
in an attempt to create a New World Order?" Yes! As we can see twenty years
or more later he correctly assessed what was about to happen.
the Soviet Regime have come to light over the years, but faint and muted are the
cries for justice for the countless victims of that criminally insane regime.
Where is the sense of horror and outrage at the revelations? Think about it: Nestling
comfortably within, and enjoying a lucrative symbiotic relationship with, a horrendously
criminal system of terror and repression, was a swarm of millionaire capitalists
-- many of whom were in the same league as those in the West!
At the time
Ivor Benson wrote:
"The Soviet Union has given up another of its biggest
and best-kept secrets - the great socialist republic, dictatorship of the proletariat,
is swarming with millionaire capitalists, every one of them a Soviet citizen,
and many in the same league as the super-rich of the capitalist west!
not strange, and most significant, that this fact should have passed unnoticed
by the Western media and Western historians for more than 60 years, a fact of
major importance that did not qualify for as much as a mention in Time magazine's
most exhaustive 45-page presentation "Inside the U.S.S.R." in its issue
of June 23, 1980!
Strange and significant, yes, but not altogether surprising
when it is remembered that Western journalists and academics haven't yet even
got around to admitting that the Western super-rich with their banks and multi-national
companies have likewise been swarming all over the vast country ever since the
Bolshevik Revolution promoting another kind of economic colonialism.*
story of "Russia's Underground Millionaires" was told in the June 29
issue of Fortune magazine, the plush and expensive sister journal of Time, by
no less an authority than a former international law expert in the Soviet Ministry
of Justice, one Konstantin Simis, now resident in the United States.
is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts supplied, but good reason to examine
closely and critically the meaning which Simis and the Fortune editors give to
these astonishing facts which have emerged so suddenly and without warning from
what is certainly the biggest area of secrecy and disinformation (i.e. lying)
in the history of mankind.
We have been permitted to peep into what Winston Churchill once described
as "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" - but not for our
final disillusionment, we may be sure.
"How to Succeed In Business
Where Business is a Crime" says Fortune's supplementary headline.
First of all, then, let us take a look at the "business" which has won
such rich rewards while practised under-ground in the world's most efficiently
and most rigorously conducted police state, whose citizens are said to live in
constant dread of the KGB and its vast army of informers.
Writes Simis: "Everyone
knows that the Soviet state is the monopoly owner of all means of production and
that private enterprise is a crime. But the remarkable reality is that in the
Soviet Union a great many private enterprises operate - at great profit. Indeed,
a network of privately controlled factories spreads across the whole country and
these factories manufacture goods worth hundreds of millions - perhaps even billions
- of roubles (A rouble is currently worth $1.40...)"
he goes on, cannot for obvious reasons handle items like motorcars and machinery,
but must concentrate on items of the kind that most people want and can afford
to buy, like clothing, shoes, artificial-leather goods, sunglasses, costume jewellery,
recordings of Western popular music, etc.
But how do they manage to do that
in a country where every citizen is encouraged to spy on his neighbour?
of the answer: "A private enterprise will co-exist under the same name and
the same roof, with a state factory; it could not exist without this cover. In
this symbiotic relationship the state factory manufactures goods as called for
by the state plan. These goods appear on the factories' books and are distributed
through commercial channels for sale. But alongside these official goods the same
factory is manufacturing goods not registered in any documents." Goods of
the first kind are called "registered for" and the others, in the jargon
of the underground are described as "left hand".
Simis tells us
that not only are there "tens of thousands" of such factories all over
the Soviet Union, most of them concentrated in the great towns and cities like
Moscow, Odessa, Tiflis, Riga and Tashkent, but there exists also a vast distribution
network handling a "left hand" trade worth possibly billions of dollars
One "company" is mentioned, part of the "Glazenberg
empire" which owned so many factories that it was forced to set up its own
marketing group which proceeded to organise outlets of its own in 64 towns and
regions - in addition to all the outlets provided by the state.
And who are
these daring and energetic businessmen who appear to have fashioned for themselves
cloaks of invisibility?
Writes Simis: "For historical reasons, the underground business milieu in
the large cities of Russia, the Ukraine and the Baltic republics has been predominantly
Jewish. While my clients included Georgians, Armenians and members of other groups,
the great majority were Jewish - like myself':
What "historical reasons"?
Simis says that the Russian Jews, after having been discriminated against
by the Czarist regime, were "liberated" by the Bolshevik Revolution,
thereafter throwing themselves eagerly into spheres of life previously closed
to them, like science, the arts, literature, etc. He tells us that during and
after World War II, Stalin turned against the Jews, many of whom were then forced
to find outlets for their energies in "underground business':
in his article, however, he tells us about one Isaac Back who in the mid 1930s
set about creating a family company which by 1940 (when Stalin was at the peak
of his power) owned "at least a dozen factories manufacturing underwear,
souvenirs and notions, operating at the same time a network of stores in all the
republics of the Soviet Union':
Some of these Jewish entrepreneurs, including
Back and one of the three Glazenberg brothers were prosecuted and imprisoned,
but evidently not enough of them to discourage the rest. It was decided to "sacrifice"
young Lazar Glazenberg, says Simis, whose job it was to defend them in court,
"at least partly because of his playboy life-style as reflected in his two
dozen suits and the wardrobe of his wife..."
It is significant, surely,
that although private enterprise carried on in secret must be regarded as the
most dangerous and destructive form of sabotage, being the exact antithesis of
Marxist socialism, there is no mention of this class of big-fish offender among
the hundreds of individual cases discussed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the three
volumes of his Gulag Archipelago; indeed, Jewish prisoners are rarely mentioned
by Solzhenitsyn, whereas, judging by their names, there was no scarcity of Jews
among the slave camp bosses - Aron Solts, Jakov Rappaport, Matvei Berman, Lazar
Kogan and, most notorious of all, Naftaly Frenkel who appears to have master-minded
the whole technique of slave labour. Nor have big businessmen figured at all prominently
in the great show trials which the Western media were permitted to report and
Why should this kind of activity with its almost
fabulous rewards, plus attendant dangers, be confined almost exclusively to Jewish
citizens of the Soviet Union?
Simis gives us what is obviously an important part of the answer:
"The sense of national identity among Jewish underground businessmen is strong
- much stronger than that of the Soviet Jewish intelligentsia. There may not be
many among them who understand what Zionism is all about - even fewer who are
prepared to relinquish their fortunes and emigrate to Israel - yet I never met
a single one who was indifferent to the fate of that country and who did not feel
a blood relationship with it. It came as no surprise to me that during the Six-day
War the underground businessmen in many cities donated large sums in dollars -
not roubles but dollars - to Israel'
These underground business tycoons would
have been much assisted, we may be sure, by another circumstance revealed by Simis:
"Nevertheless many Jewish underground businessmen of all ages eagerly
join the Communist party for desperately practical motives: to enhance their social
prestige and gain some shield - beyond bribery-to keep them from being prosecuted
by the DCMSP".
Here he seems to have forgotten what he told us a few
paragraphs back - that Jews were forced into underground business by discrimination
that excluded them from the party and state hierarchy.
Simis explains how
the wheels of the "left hand" industry are copiously oiled with bribes.
The blue-collar factory workers are bribed with additional tax-free incomes to
work for the private operator and keep their mouths shut, as are also the clerical
personnel and foremen; bigger bribes are paid to officials whose duty it is to
establish quantity and quality norms for goods manufactured for the state, giving
the private operator his main supplies of raw materials in the form of surpluses
which don't have to be recorded; and the biggest bribes of all are those paid
to officials of the DCPSP, which is an arm of the KGB whose precise task it is
to "combat the misappropriation of Soviet property".
It would appear that the underground businessmen who are caught
and punished are those whose operations have become too glaringly obvious, like
one Golidze who "owned two magnificent houses, luxuriously furnished with
antiques bought from dealers in Moscow and Leningrad" and who "entertained
officials with banquets which would go on for hours..."
Most Soviet tycoons
try not to be too ostentatious as they stash away most of their wealth in foreign
currencies, precious stones, metals and gold coins. Simis tells us that during
the 1960s and 1970s the salon of one Elizabeth Mirkien enjoyed great popularity
in Moscow, for here middle-aged businessmen could enjoy excellent meals, plus
the euphoria of feeling rich as they risked the loss of huge stakes at cards and
"But all to what end?" asks Simis rhetorically:
in precious stones in Moscow, Tashkent, Riga and other cities continue to operate
diligently to this day, filling the caches of underground millionaires with their
wares. These caches amount to vast treasures, probably worth more than all the
pirate booty in Caribbean waters. And yet - what about their owners? What are
they waiting for? A fabulous future time when they will be able to unearth their
riches and regally use them? Or the downfall of the Soviet regime?"
what does it all mean? Simis himself doesn't seem to know, for he ends his article
and, presumably, also the book he has been writing, with unanswered questions.
If we are to have any hope of getting at the real and final meaning of the Simis
story, experience should have taught us that we are here exerting our investigative
skills in an area of maximum falsification and concealment in which devices of
deception are used which are the product of centuries, even millenia, of practice
and accumulated experience.
Winston Churchill was certainly not exaggerating
when he described the Soviet Union as "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside
AN INSPIRED GUESS
In these circumstances, the truth, if it is to be found is more likely to be the
product of what, for want of any better description, we call insight, or, as some
would say, "an inspired guess' than the product of a detailed and laborious
study and juxtaposition of all the available facts - which, in any case, are always
in short supply. Therefore we should know in advance that the truth we are seeking
is not something that can ever be "proved" with evidence and argument;
it is "truth" of a kind which only unfolding history can prove or refute.
For example, no one was ever able to "prove" Oswald Spengler's axiom
that "there is no proletarian movement, not even a Communist one, which does
not operate in the interest of money..." - and yet it is one that continues
to offer the clearest, most coherent and most consistent explanation of much that
has happened in the world since those words were written more than 60 years ago.
Likewise, Douglas Reed's dictum that "similar men, with a common aim, secretly
rule in both camps" - the capitalist West and the Soviet Union.
of this kind are not pure guesswork, but can be described metaphorically as the
product of some higher computing process of the mind in which the enquirer, having
absorbed as many as possible of the available hard facts, is able to "tune
in" emotionally to the motivational systems involved - rather like having
electronic bugging devices planted inside the minds of those men whose policies
and actions are being studied. The infinitely wise Chinese call this jen ai, putting
yourself in the place of the other person, the secret of all skill in human relations,
whether these be friendly or hostile.
Now then, let us place ourselves in
the position of Konstantin Simis and of his former Kremlin bosses and see what
We are told in a biographical piece in Fortune that from 1953 Simis
acted as defence lawyer for dozens of prominent underground businessmen, giving
up his practice in 1971 to join the Ministry of Justice as an international law
expert. In 1976 the KGB raided his apartment and seized the manuscript of a book
on Soviet corruption, the first draft of which was already in the hands of an
American publisher. Then Simis and his wife Dina, who was also a lawyer, were
told that unless they left the Soviet Union they would be sent to a hard labour
camp. Simis could hardly be expected to regard this as severe punishment for so
grave an offence, for he was able to join his son who was already established
at Johns Hopkins University as director of a Soviet studies programme, thus acquiring
a vastly improved launching pad for his literary assault on the Soviet regime.
All this does not make good sense in terms of the ostensible motives and expected
natural reactions of those involved - whereas, the expulsion of Solzhenitsyn is
precisely what could have been expected by those able to share with the Soviet
bosses the awful dilemma of what to do with a man who had become the glowing symbol
of an awakened and aroused young Russian intelligentsia.
BIG CHANGE COMING?
In our interpretation, what we are seeing today are
the first signs of dramatic change in the picture of the Soviet Union as presented
by the Western media and contemporary historians. In other words, the whole story
of what has happened since the Bolshevik Revolution is going to have to be retold
in a revised form.
Chapman Pincher in his book Their Trade is Treachery tells
us that KGB agents like Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and others had been taught that
when being investigated they must keep their interrogators talking for the purpose
of finding out how much these interrogators already know for certain, so that
their story can be tailored to fit in with facts that cannot be disputed. Moreover,
finding out what is already known, the person being investigated is warned in
time to change his original story as he goes along.
The story which the people
of the West have been getting since before the Bolshevik Revolution is now going
to be adjusted to accommodate and absorb information which has been seeping through
and which could quite soon be common property. For the future edification of a
deliberately stupefied public opinion in the West, there are to be, as it were,
"guided tours" through what were hitherto "no-go" areas in
the realm of news reporting, public debate and contemporary history writing. A
start must be made in preparing the public for changes inside the Soviet Union
and in East-West relations, which are pending, or, at any rate, intended.
These changes could be of a magnitude, and every bit as traumatic as, the changes
inside the Moscow-Berlin pact of 1939 or the process of de-Stalinisation after
World War II.
in the policies and actions of the leading Western powers, the U.S.A. in particular,
is the assumption that all are working towards the "ideal" of some sort
of convergence of the two worlds, an "ideal" that does not, however,
exclude the possibility of a third world war. Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly
obvious that economic socialism of the kind implemented in the Soviet Union by
Lenin and his successors cannot ever be made to work. It is, therefore, highly
significant that in the Soviet Union, as Simis shows, there has come into existence
a vast network of super-rich capitalists, matching in so many ways the super-rich
capitalists of the West, ready to take over when the present system of totalitarian
state capitalism finally collapses, as collapse it must, sooner or later. How
else? And who better entitled to take over than "heroes" of the underground,
anti-Communist, counter-revolutionary struggle, freedom, every one of them "freedom
fighters" in the new dispensation?" (Emphasis added
"Vodka-Cola", Charles Levinson's massive "exposé" of
the involvement of Western banks and multi-national companies in the expanding
Soviet economy, and the publicity given to this book in a BDC television documentary
earlier this year, must be seen as part of the same historical phenomena as the
Simis report. What is not generally known is that Levinson is a key figure in
the international trade union movement, with headquarters in Paris. In this way
the one-worlders aim to retain control of the minds of the trade union masses
by themselves undertaking to reveal much of the truth that can no longer be concealed.
This is done with an exhaustively documented, highly plausible story carefully
tailored to prevent the workers from finding out that they are themselves just
as much under the control of the super-capitalists as the banks and companies
operating in the U.S.S.R.
Editor's note: Is this for why those
many millions of lives were destroyed under the Soviet Regime of terror, torture,
famine and mass deportations?"
Along with Wilfred Owen, the young poet
who died after suffering the witless mud and blood of the trenches at Flanders
we can only ask:
Was it for this the clay grew tall? - O what made fatuous
sunbeams toil, To break earth's sleep at all?