In most countries, criminals need to make their dirty money clean in order to make it useful in the legitimate economy. As any Breaking Bad fan knows, that’s what money laundering is: a way to bring the proceeds of crime onto account books and into bank accounts as the proceeds of a legitimate business. But in Russia, corruption has gotten so bad that the logic of money laundering has turned upside down. There, many companies face the opposite problem: In order to get things done, they need to take clean money and make it dirty.
Wealthy TV star Donald Trump, who in recent years has been best known for saying, "You're fired!" to people who don't work for him, is not just running for the Republican nomination — he's leading the polls. Worryingly, Trump seems to owe his success in large part to the political nativism he has embraced. In the speech he made to launch his campaign, he explicitly accused Mexican immigrants of being "rapists," and claimed they were the source of crime and disease in the US, saying, "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." This been a continuous theme of his campaign. On July 11, he held a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, which Slate referred to as the "single most anti-immigrant event of the year."
This March, Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a series of public appearances, and the world promptly seemed to lose its collective mind. Everyone from Russians on social media to mainstream Western journalists speculated wildly about why Putin had "disappeared." Could he be ill? Incapacitated by a stroke? Dead? After several days passed and Putin failed to surface, the theories grew more exotic. Was this the result of a "silent coup" by the security services? Was there a conspiracy to keep it all quiet? How deep does this go?