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Leonid Bershidsky

Russian Graft Goes Legitimate in London

Thanks to a London court, influence-peddling in Russia has now become an internationally recognized business arrangement. The consequences could be far-reaching, both for Russian billionaires and for corrupt officials in the government of President Vladimir Putin.

In Russia, it's common for businesspeople to have a "roof:" A powerful person, often a government or law-enforcement official, who defends their interests and protects them from predators in return for a piece of the action. The concept, known in Russian as a "krysha," came to the notice of London's Commercial Court thanks to a high-profile legal battle between former Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and current Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.