In any event, the cables verify what many of us knew about Putin's Russia. Via The Guardian:
Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a "virtual mafia state", according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower.Putin also didn't like him and his right-hand man Dimitri Medvedev being likened to the fictional superhero tandem of Batman and Robin:
Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300bn a year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime.
He made clear he was not amused by a US diplomat's description of him as "Batman" and President Dmitry Medvedev as "Robin". "To be honest with you, we did not suspect that this [criticism] could be made with such arrogance, with such rudeness, and you know, so unethically," Putin remarked.One of the cables also seemed to confirm that U.S. diplomats believed the death of Alexander Litvinenko, caused by a small dose of Polonium-210, may have been ordered by Putin.
Litvinenko CaseAfter the plane crash in Smolensk last April, I wrote about why Russia should have faced scrutiny.
6. (S) Fried commented that the short-term trend inside Russia was negative, noting increasing indications that the UK investigation into the murder of Litvinenko could well point to some sort of Russian involvement. MGM called attention to Chirac's statement encouraging the Russians to cooperate in the investigation. He wondered aloud who might have given the order, but speculated the murder probably involved a settling of accounts between services rather than occurring under direct order from the Kremlin. Fried, noting Putin's attention to detail, questioned whether rogue security elements could operate, in the UK no less, without Putin's knowledge. Describing the current atmosphere as strange, he described the Russians as increasingly self-confident, to the point of arrogance.
h/t to Verum Serum