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Former Petersburg Entrepreneur Recalls a 'Driven' Putin with His Hand Out

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Back in the early 1990s, St. Petersburg businessman Maksim Freidzon never would have predicted that the plain-looking bureaucrat sitting on the other side of the desk would one day be the most powerful man in Russia.
 
"There was a term for it back then -- a committee man on the take," Freidzon recalls, referring to agents of the KGB, or Committee for State Security. "I first heard this term back in 1992 from friends whom I'd asked about how to deal with the External Affairs Committee of the mayor's office…. I asked: 'What are they like?' 'Committee men on the take…. but for money they will do everything properly.'"
 
Freidzon went to the External Affairs Committee office on Antonenko Street -- "They had their own little burrow separate from [the mayor's office at] Smolny" -- and handed over the papers to register his first international business project.
 
During the discussion, Vladimir Putin "wrote down a figure and said: 'Aleksei Miller will take care of this.' And that was it. I have to admit -- they did everything properly, quickly and without any problems," Freidzon says.
 
The figure Putin named was $10,000.
 

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Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Former Petersburg Entrepreneur Recalls a 'Driven' Putin with His Hand Out

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