What started as a crisis for Uruguay over alleged fake passports getting into the wrong hands of Putin’s spies, has spiralled into a web of accusations reckoning national corruption.
A trusted bodyguard of Uruguay’s President, Luis Lacalle Pou, was arrested on 26 September on charges of allowing the false passports to be obtained by suspicious Russians.The scandal, which the President flatly denied having any knowledge about, was certainly bad publicity when the rest of the world has been united on condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and cut political support as well as alliances on trade.
Astesiano’s assistance was providing false birth certificates that stated Russian citizens had Uruguayan parents, which could be used to obtain Uruguayan passport.
The suggestion was that Russian spies and/or citizens had an anterior motive for obtaining a fraudulent passport to travel freely to Europe and the Unites States and not all of the attempts to get one could be attributed to Russian citizens wanting to escape the corruption to reside elsewhere.
Reportedly a Russian citizen, Alexey Silivaev and his wife, paid for a false passport which recorded relatives that were unrelated, deceased Uruguayans.
Around 20 cases of Russian citizens trying to obtain a passport came to light after it warranted an investigation.
The serious allegations suggest Uruguay’s political corruption – even though integrity of the government is high in polls – in facilitating fake security documents and maintaining a relationship with Russia when the rest of the West has cut ties.
The Financial Times reported the interior and foreign ministry spoke out to claim Astesiano was “very dangerous” and questioned how the passports were approved.
Despite the bad reflection, a steady score of 73/100 shows Uruguay is not considered as corrupt as much of the U.S. and countries scoring below 50, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). It ranked first in Latin America and held 18th place worldwide.