The Lawlessness of Modern Russia

Is there anything in Russia that is not being stolen, looted or turned upside down for spare change?

Mikhail Novikov, a deputy director in charge of construction at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has been placed under house arrest on charges of suspected fraud.

Moscow’s Lefortovsky District Court ruled on 29 March that Novikov is to be held under house arrest until 23 May. In January, the Hermitage acknowledged in a statement that investigators from the Federal Security Service, a successor agency of the KGB, had been conducting “operational procedures” at the museum’s Staraya Derevnya restoration and repository centre. Some commentators had speculated that the searches were a reprisal for criticism by Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage, of the handover by the local government of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, now run as a museum, to the Russian Orthodox Church.

On Wednesday, Russian media reported that Novikov's case was connected to a larger case of over Rb100m in embezzled funds during major Russian Ministry of Culture restoration projects that has already landed Grigory Pirumov, a former deputy culture minister, in jail.

Since the rule of law really does not exist in Russia, you have to ask one question. Did they really steal the money or did they fail to bribe the right people while they were stealing the money?

Never mind the arts, of course. When all is said and done, we'll be lucky if there's anything left.