Putin, a former KGB spy, served as president for eight years before becoming prime minister in 2008, when legal limits prevented him from running for a third consecutive term. His successor, Medvedev, worked for Putin in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office before joining his presidential administration
eard from Russian opposition contacts that Putin didn’t install a strong successor because he feared “law enforcement investigations.” Putin’s aim was to protect “alleged illicit proceeds,” according to the cables published by the Guardian.
he prosecutor considers Russia a “virtual mafia state,” according to the cable. There are “unanswered questions regarding the extent to which Russian PM Putin is implicated in the Russian mafia and whether he controls the mafia’s actions,” the cable cited Gonzalez as saying.
Putin has accumulated “illicit wealth” through ties to secretive energy traders, including Gunvor International BV, according to oil industry experts cited in a Nov. 24, 2008, cable from the U.S. embassy in Moscow and published by the Guardian.
Gunvor, whose main trading office is in Geneva, dismissed the memo as based on “old, completely unsubstantiated rumors.”
The company has two founders, Gennady Timchenko and Torbjorn Tornqvist, who are joint majority owners, Leasor said. An employee benefit trust for senior Gunvor managers owns a minority stake, he said. Timchenko was a founding member of a St. Petersburg judo club where Putin was once honorary head,
Gonzalez said he agreed with a thesis put forward by ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko that intelligence and security services “control organized crime in Russia,
Litvinenko, a Putin critic who received political asylum in the U.K., died from radiation poisoning in November 2006. U.K. investigators say former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi poisoned Litvinenko during a meeting in London. Lugovoi denies any involvement in Litvinenko’s death.
Litvinenko blamed Putin for his own murder in a deathbed statement,
Spanish prosecutor Jose Gonzalez as telling U.S. officials that he “cannot differentiate between the activities of the government and organized crime groups.”