Russians are very upset with the EU bailout of Cyprus which involved tapping larger bank accounts to pony up the money needed to secure the loan. Russians use banks on the island and could lose billions. I happen to agree that the plan is grossly unfair and penalizes those who have saved their money in a responsible fashion. Yet, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev seems to be channeling not just Lenin but Joe Biden in a recent bizarre public statement that in Cyprus “the stealing of what has already been stolen continues.” The comment left many scratching their heads on precisely what the Russian leader was saying about wealthy Russians.
Medvedev’s comments came in a public meeting with Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, when he stated: “Let us, Igor Ivanovich, talk about what’s happening with Cyprus. The stealing of the stolen is continuing there, I think.”
It is an obvious reference to Lenin’s statement on the confiscation of capitalists’ property:
“The old Bolshevik was right when he explained what Bolshevism was to the Cossack who’d asked him if it was true the Bolsheviks stole. ‘Yes, [the Bolshevik] said. ‘We steal what has already been stolen.’”
Lenin himself was building on Karl Marx’s phrase of “expropriation of the expropriators.”
However it is what Medvedev meant that is so intriguing. The Russians are a bit far afield from the “Old Bolshevik.” The wealthy Russians and oligarchs now live like Tsars in London and other cities. Some accounts put Putin’s private fortune at $40 billion and the megalomaniac has built palaces worthy of Peter the Great for his enjoyment.
In this farce, it is Russians who would replace the reference to the expropriators by Marx or the Tsarist capitalists by Lenin. The Cypriots would be in the position of the Bolsheviks. It is an apt description for many Russians who feel that there is now a ruling oligarchy and a separation of the Russian wealthy from the proletariat.
He might have been better with Lenin’s statement: “The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency.”