What’s the world’s best-paying job?

Before I answer this question, I have to disappoint you: there are no vacancies left. And if there were, you wouldn’t qualify.

Mates on the mats

To prolong the suspense even more, sometimes God and life serendipitously join forces to prove my point.

Thus, no sooner had I written yesterday about totalitarian regimes’ cavalier attitude to public health than the news came about a motorway being constructed through a nuclear waste dump in Moscow.

But I won’t hold you on tenterhooks any longer. The world’s best-paying job is that of Putin’s close friend. And none are closer than the brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg.

Hence their construction company miraculously wins tenders for many juicy projects, from gas pipelines to the Olympic facilities at Sochi, from the bridge connecting the Crimea with Russia to, well, the motorway in question.

By the Rotenbergs’ standards, the 17-mile, 8-lane stretch is small beer, bringing a mere £527 million into their coffers. But every little bit helps.

Their families won’t live anywhere near the motorway, and neither will Putin’s. However, some 100,000 Muscovites will, and they are up in arms.

When the Moscow Polymetal Plant was built back in the 1930s, it was outside the city. But Moscow has expanded, and now the defunct site sits in a residential neighbourhood.

In the 1960s the plant began to make equipment for nuclear reactors, with 60,000 tonnes of radium, thorium and uranium eventually stored in its waste disposal dump. Even now the radiation levels there are 60 times the norm, and that’s before the site has been dredged by Putin’s mates.

The residents are trying to protest, since the resulting radioactive dust will increase the already sky-high risk of cancer. Moreover, they suspect that contaminated soil will end up in the nearby Moskva river.

However, weak as the Russian authorities may be on responsible environmentalism, they know exactly how to deal with protesters. So far 70 of them have been arrested, and rubber truncheons have seen the light of day.

Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin doesn’t see what the fuss is all about. Yes, he admits, there are some “insignificant traces of contamination” on the site (to the tune of 60 times the norm). But as construction develops, the waste will be “shipped out” of the city.

Alas, instead of thanking him, along with the Rotenbergs and Putin, for the environmental benefits thereby accrued, those local ingrates charge truncheons and batons trying to hinder the project. There’s no understanding some people.

For Sobyanin at any rate. Yet other Russians understand them very well. They remember rabbits the size of wolves running around the woods near Soviet nuclear power stations and research facilities.

They also remember visiting Japanese scientists who refused to leave their hotel in central Moscow because their Geiger counters were screaming danger. That, at the time when young Putin and the Rotenbergs were practising judo throws in Leningrad.

And what do you know, those Russians cursed with elephantine memory just don’t believe things have changed, not in that department at any rate. Still, in their confrontation with the Rotenbergs, my money is on the latter. So is Putin’s.

2 thoughts on “What’s the world’s best-paying job?”

  1. “When the Moscow Polymetal Plant was built back in the 1930s, it was outside the city. But Moscow has expanded, and now the defunct site sits in a residential neighbourhood.”

    The Rocky Mountain Flats arsenal. Near Denver. Built nuclear triggers for a-bombs. Was finally closed when found to be so terribly contaminated they could not determine with accuracy how contaminated it was. Now sub-divisions built right up to the perimeter fence of the arsenal.

  2. Dear Sasha, you may have seen it already, but I strongly recommend to you a 12-series documentary titled “Putinism As It Is” available on YouTube in Russian and partly in English. Great stuff!

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