Russia: when crook and governor are synonymous

Yet another Russian regional governor has been arrested on charges of corruption. According to the investigators, Ivan Belozertsev, governor of Penza Oblast in the west of the country, is suspected of taking millions in bribes from the pharmaceutical industry. Belozertsev, who represents the Kremlin party United Russia, had just been re-elected in 2020.

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Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Here even octopuses can win elections

Commentator Anton Orech of Echo of Moscow is amazed at the news that "between 300 and 500 million roubles" (3.4 to 5.6 million euros) in cash were found in Belosertsev's home after the arrest:

“I wish you all, when asked about your savings, could answer vaguely that there's around 200 million in cash lying around somewhere at home. And enough wristwatches for an octopus - like Belozertsev. It's an especially nice detail that this governor, gold-plated from head to toe, was elected by the people just last autumn with 78 percent of the vote. ... Did they not recognise him for the crook he is? Or is this proof that the man on the street can't be trusted with elections because he votes for anyone who comes along? Or perhaps in Penza the votes were counted like everywhere else? Rounded up and boosted and that's the result?” (RU) /

Leadership and society completely alienated

In a Facebook post republished by, liberal opposition politician Lev Schlosberg explains why, unlike in Khabarovsk in 2020, there has been no public opposition to the arrest of the regional leader in Penza:

“Where are the hundreds of thousands of voters who voted for Belozertsev? There are none. Because his election was not a conscious and voluntary expression of the will of people who take responsibility for their political decision. ... The people have no participation. They cast votes but they don't elect. That is the price of the liquidation of political freedoms under Putin. ... The leadership and society are completely alienated. ... The people have been deprived of their power, that is, of the right to freely choose their political leaders and representatives. Why would you mourn the loss of something that never belonged to you anyway? ”