President Vladimir Putin may have been pipped to the post for his second Time Person of the Year award in as many years, but he is the undisputed winner in another yearly award, this time from a group of investigative journalists.
The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has named Putin their 2014 Person of the Year, in their annual tongue-in-cheek award for the person “who does the most to enable and promote organized criminal activity”.
Announcing the awards, OCCRP chief editor Drew Sullivan said: “Putin has been a finalist every year so you might consider this a lifetime achievement award. He has been a real innovator in working with organized crime.
“He has created a military-industrial-political-criminal complex that furthers Russia’s and Putin’s personal interests. I think Putin sees those interests as one and the same.”
In the 2010, Russia was branded a “virtual mafia state” in US diplomatic cables published on the WikiLeaks website.
Putin was accused in the cables of overseeing a “kleptocracy” in which the Russian mafia works in tandem with the state, and state security organisations operate extortion and bribery rackets.
The president was chosen as the OCCRP’s Person of the Year by 125-OCCRP affiliated reporters, and 20 investigative reporting organisations in countries in Europe and Central Asia.
A number of recent OCCRP investigations implicate the Kremlin and Russian officials in criminal activity, including the use of mafia figures to act as intermediaries for the transfer of weapons from the Russian military to separatist rebels in east Ukraine.
The runners-up were Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and Montenegran Prime Minister Milo Đukanović.
Putin was also named the Russian public’s person of the year, reports RT News.
Paul Radu, executive director of OCCRP, said he had “fused Cold War mentality with modern organized crime strategies and technology to create a new level of transnational organized crime.
“The Russian-backed money laundering platforms have exploited the lack of transparency in the global financial and offshore company registrations systems to create a new criminal financial infrastructure used by crime groups from as far away as Mexico and Vietnam.”