Iskanders no longer laughing: Russia to classify list of its military sector partners

Classifying information on procurements may fuel corruption.

In 2014, when international sanctions were introduced in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, many representatives of Russian mass culture mocked at Americans and Europeans. However, now Moscow intends to at least partially cushion the blow by hitting its own investors: almost all information on the Russian military sector’s contacts with business firms may be classified.

Russian pop singer Anne Semenovich wearing a T-shirt “Sanctions? Don’t make my ‘Iskanders’ laugh”, 2014. Photo – httpspolitikus.ru

In July 2017, The U.S. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia was passed during the 115th Congress. On August 2, President Donald Trump signed it into law. Regarding Russia, Section 241 of the Act required that ‘not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State’ submit to Congress a detailed report — with the option of containing a classified annex — that would include ‘identification of the most significant senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation, as determined by their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth’.

Moscow has already made a list of 126 companies – information on their deals with the state will be protected from the public. Furthermore, financial performance data of the best part of Russia’s defense industry will be confidential as well.

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“Apparently, the need to classify information on big state-owned companies’ and govt agencies’ financial interactions with them [the listed businesses] arose due to the risk of <…> monetary penalties within the US jurisdiction and the possible seizure of assets,” the influential Russian newspaper Kommersant reports.

On the other hand, protecting information on competitive procurements by public companies, the shares of which make up a large part of the Russian stock market, will not only weaken the confidence of investors, but might also fuel corruption and spur firms to transact business in the uncontrolled financial environment.

In 2014, pro-Kremlin circles made fun of Western sanctions. Since 2015, they have been putting the blame for the crisis of the Russian economy on the USA, the EU and their ‘pressure’.

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