Vitaly Klintsov
Vitaly Klintsov

McKinsey & Co. could use a good consultant… Vladimir Putin’s decision to jail Alexei Navalny, his top political opponent, triggered demonstrations throughout Russia by people upset with the regime’s massive corruption and theft.

There was one oasis of calm in Moscow, which was Ground Zero of the protests. That was the office of management consultant McKinsey & Co.

Vitaly Klintsov, Russia managing partner at McKinsey, warned staffers ahead of the demonstration “to stay away from public areas of gathering” and to “refrain from making related posts in any media.”

Citing company policy, he warned staffers via email that they must not support any political activity publicly or privately. “This ban does include posts in social media featuring your political views or your attitude to any action with a political flavor. This line of conduct is mandatory,” he wrote.

The Financial Times took McKinsey to task for kowtowing before Putin. Klintsov’s note could have been written by Kremlin propagandists or the security services, wrote Henry Foy in the FT on Jan. 27.

The US, UK and European Union have demanded the release of Navalny.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote a Jan. 24 letter to Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s global managing partner, saying the Russia episode “raises questions about McKinsey’s core values and corporate culture.”

McKinsey has walked back Klintsov’s note, saying employees have the right to participate “legally” in civic and political activities.

But that’s not good enough for Rubio, who wrote that the initial guidance sent to Russian staffers “suggests the company is little more than a tool for authoritarian repression.”

The Senator wants to determine if any McKinsey staffer consulted with Putin’s regime before or after the initial guidance was sent. He wants the same about the revised guidance.

Rubio wrote that Russians took to the street to protest a “corrupt regime run by the thuggish despot Vladimir Putin who does everything in his power to silence dissent, including by poisoning and killing those who oppose him.

"By siding with, and enabling, brutal authoritarian regimes that suppress the most basic rights of its people, McKinsey continues to fall short of its stated purpose ‘to help create positive, enduring change in the world.’”

The Senator is increasingly concerned about McKinsey’s work for the US government.

He wrote: “It is unclear why the US Government or any democratic government with whom your firm works, should accept that McKinsey’s work maintains the high standards that you claim, or believe that your recommendations have not been tainted by your stated willingness to assist authoritarian regimes in Beijing, Moscow and elsewhere.”

Rubio awaits a response.

Rudy Giuliani also has authoritarianism on his mind. YouTube has suspended former president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer from its ad revenue sharing program for his role in pushing the fantasy that the presidential election was stolen.

Once known as “America’s Mayor,” Rudy now hawks dietary supplements, online fraud prevention services and video gems such as “The Biden Crime Family's Payoff Scheme,” and “Election Theft of the Century” on YouTube

The one-month suspension cuts Rudy off from any revenues from ads that YouTube places before his videos.

Rudy blasted YouTube’s move as predatory and noted: “It’s a very, very seductive road to authoritarianism.”

Giuliani probably could use the YouTube cash after Trump reportedly stiffed him on his legal fees and Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3B lawsuit against him for making damaging claims that it manipulated the election.

COVID-19 may sack enthusiasm for the Super Bowl, according to the Seton Hall Sports Poll released Jan. 27.

Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents agree that COVID-19 restrictions on players, gameplay and restricted fan attendance will make the upcoming game less exciting than in previous contests. Twenty-eight percent disagree and the rest have no opinion.

COVID-19 has killed Super Bowl watch parties as only a quarter of fans plan to view the game outside their home, according to the survey. Sixty-four percent will watch from home.

“Viewership may be down because social gatherings bring out even the least casual fans,” predicted professor Charles Grantham, director of Seton Hall’s Center for Sports Management.

He does believe the Super Bowl “remains a vital part of the American experience.”

Go Chiefs! Beat Tom Brady.