If you don’t have a billion…

Ten years ago, Moscow developer Sergei Polonsky greeted guests at his party with an affectionate disclaimer: “If you don’t have a billion, you can go f— yourself.” Before long, the Fates ejected him from the billionaire camp: bankruptcy, flight to Cambodia, extradition, a stint in jail, conviction and release for time served all followed in due course.

On Monday, the US Treasury published a list of Russia’s top bureaucrats and oligarchs, as required by the bill passed last August. It is not particularly meaningful, since the Treasury has the power to sanction any Russian, whether on or off that roster. Still, some of the listed billionaires are reportedly feeling ill at ease. I say billionaires because the Treasury’s list of oligarchs only includes Russians worth at least one billion dollars according to Forbes’ Russia list published in April 2017. Those without a billion have been left off…

…well, not really. There’s a classified section coming, as Secretary Mnuchin has hinted and Senator Corker has indirectly confirmed. Bershidsky’s criticism of the public roster is understandable but unimpressive. He thinks that US policy goals include “shaming the Putin regime in the eyes of Russians and the whole world…” I hope not: how do you shame the shameless? And who trusts reports from the swamp these days? You hit where it hurts, that’s all.

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