“It’s the Prison Industrial Complex à la Russe,” I replied to someone in the comment section of the Guardian, which printed Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s letter from the forced labor camp in Mordovia.
Sean has more on this in “Russia’s Prisoners Labor for the Market.” I have never doubted that Russia’s prisoner-slaves are working for a purpose, as most Soviet Gulag prisoners did, and the purpose is someone’s enrichment. Even the generally pro-government Izvestia ran an investigative piece (in Russian) exposing the largest customer of that camp, IK-14. It’s a former Duma deputy and member of Putin’s United Russia (why I am not surprised).
But it gets better than that. Russia’s anti-corruption activist/opposition leader (I think it’s even fair to title him the leader of the opposition now) Alexei Navalny reveals juicier details about Mr. Golovnev and his spouse, complete with touching pictures of the nouveau Russe cotton merchant with Mr. Putin. And where does the money earned by Russian slaves get invested?
Well, in Miami of course. First a modest $0.5 mln apartment on Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. Then another one in 2004 in the same building, but for $0.8 mln. Then the first, modest one, gets sold for about a million dollars in 2005. Not to worry, they (technically Ms G but it’s safe to use “they”) buy yet another one on Collins Avenue, this time for $1.2 mln in 2006.
So all in all two million invested in South Florida property as of 2006. Note that Mr. Golovnev’s declarations of income for the 2006 and 2011 Duma election name him as the proprietor of the same slave-exploiting clothing company – but omit any mention of Florida.