Secrets of Russia's elite put on internet

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Secrets of Russia's elite put on internet

"Transcripts of phone conversations among Russia's tycoons have found their way on to the internet as rival clans struggle for power.

The conversations, accepted to be genuine, are the result of thousands of hours of phone-tapping, tailing and investigation. The overall portrait of official cynicism and greed is all too credible, despite evidence that some of the "facts" have been tampered with. 
Reading all the files on the internet would take weeks and be depressing, confirming the worst suspicions about the nation's elite. Those curious as to which tycoon allegedly killed someone in a car crash, how officials wriggle out of criminal investigations and which madam supplied a senior government figure with prostitutes need look no further than the sites. 
One businessman is followed from Luton airport to an address in Kensington, with the registration numbers and chauffeurs of his cars identified. Some of the revelations are sordid, others banal. Many are simply descriptions of their flats, workplaces and relations with colleagues. Others document the links between big business and crime. 
Sergei Sokolov, editor of an internet site that is posting 20,000 pages of files, said: "A huge number of people had their private lives spied on. Russia has 10 official intelligence services and some 20 private ones violating our rights." 
The publication of the material could not be more timely for President Putin, whose assault on Russia's tycoons has put the nation's espionage under renewed scrutiny. Much of the material analyses the "oligarchs" who, at the height of their power in the Nineties, headed large private armies of former KGB and police officers. 
Mr Putin has exploited the widely held belief that the tycoons have been waging an espionage war against the state and each other to help justify the authorities' crackdown on big business. "
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