How great a fall it is to become an ex-dictator without benefit of the state’s apparatus for stealing under the protection of the secret police. Hosni Mubarak is now a plain Mister skulking away in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, not daring to show his face. The Swiss banking authorities freeze his assets, and the British banks say they are only waiting for instructions to do likewise. His past has caught up with him.
Compare this to Vladimir Putin’s continued run. The Daily Telegraph reports that in 2005 the Russian presidential property manager (now there’s a title!) signed a contract for the building of a palace for Putin on the Black Sea coast. This palace is a copy of one built for the tsars outside St. Petersburg. Someone by the name of Sergei Kolesnikov, reputedly a businessman involved in this project, has written a letter to a Russian newspaper denouncing Putin. He claims, “As things stand, the cost of the palace is $1 billion. The funds were mostly raised through a combination of corruption, bribery and theft.” Another Russian newspaper reports that Putin and his successor Dmitri Medvedev share between them “at least two dozen palaces, villas and mansions.”
Dictators evidently have characteristics in common, but then so do enraged crowds.