Putin’s Bridge to Chechnya Another Example of Russian Plutocracy

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday opened a $4 billion bridge directly linking Russia to Crimea, giving him a propaganda victory that drew condemnation from the West and served as the latest demonstration of Putin’s personalized system of power.

Putin, clad in jeans and a jacket, walked on the Russian end of the 19-kilometre long, four-lane bridge alongside the business mogul who built it — Arkady Rotenberg, the president’s former judo partner. Then Putin took to the wheels and drove over the Kerch Strait of the Black Sea in an orange Kamaz dump truck — manufactured by a state-owned company headed by Sergey Chemezov, Putin’s KGB colleague in East Germany in the 1980s. Both men are under U.S. sanctions.

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