WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 6 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Putin’s Russia, Fading Fast
(2) Putin hates the Russian People — and it’s Mutual!
(3) Where is Kasparov?
(4) The Islamic Republic of Putin
(5) CARTOON: Watch out for those Closets, Mr. Putin!
NOTE: It seems like only yesterday that we were reporting on Russia’s humiliating ejection from the world basketball championships for men. If Russians had any hope that their women’s team would bring glory to make them forget that shame, they were rudely awakened from their silly dream by, of all countries, hapless little Belarus at the women’s championships last week. Ouch.
Putin’s Russia, Fading Fast
Public opinion polls show that only 13% of Russians (Russian-language link) believe that Dmitri Medvedev really holds presidential power in their country, even though he’s called “president.” More than twice as many think Vladimir Putin holds this power exclusively, and a whopping 78% of Russians believe Putin holds at least a share of presidential power. 64% of Russians believe that Putin’s actions are completely independent of Medvedev, while half that number think Medvedev can act independently.
Despite the scorn heaped upon the street demonstrators by the Putin regime and the Russophile rabble, a whopping 85% of Russians (Russian-language link) believe the Kremlin should listen to what the protesters have to say, yet less than 30% think the Kremlin actually is listening. If an election were held today, only 27% of Russians say they are ready to cast a vote for Putin, while a pathetic 20% are committed to voting for Medvedev.
These facts add up to just one conclusion: Russia is a dictatorship.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, blogging on World Affairs:
After eleven years in power, Russia’s regime has finally found the culprit for the country’s problems: its people. Speaking at a news conference titled “What hampers the modernization of Russia,” presidential adviser Igor Yurgens—hailed by the Kremlin’s Western apologistsas the leading “liberal” in the Russian government—declared that the main obstacle to President Dmitri Medvedev’s “modernization” plans are the “archaic” Russian people characterized by “degradation, lumpenization, and even debilization.” Russians are “not citizens, but some kind of a tribe,” the presidential adviser asserted.
One wonders how many hours a government official in a democratic country would remain in his job after making such remarks.
Garry Kasparov grew up knowing that coming second was not good enough. This will to win was one of the crucial factors behind the 22-year-old Soviet chess player becoming the youngest-ever World Chess Champion in 1985. He retained his title for 15 years. The ambitious, outspoken youth was seen by the West as the new face of Russian chess — and, more importantly, of the country that was ready for the first time in 70 years to say good-bye to communism and start moving towards democracy. The Cold War, both on and off the chessboard, was over. Kasparov and his fellow players no longer had to be part of it and could concentrate on the game in which they excelled.
Or so it seemed in the heady days when Gorbachev’s reforms awoke a sense of elation in many. That was not to last long. Immediately after retiring from professional chess, Kasparov returned to action — this time on a political battleground. He formed the United Civil Front, a pro-democracy movement, and took an active part in creating The Other Russia, an anti-Putin coalition. After Kasparov’s plans to stand as a candidate for the 2008 Russian presidential race were disrupted — no one was willing to rent him a hall large enough to hold his supporters so he wasn’t allowed to be a candidate — he remained the leader of the UCF, organising an online “Putin must go” campaign.
Human Rights Watch reports:
“Even in the 90s at the time of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria it wasn’t as bad as it is now. After all I didn’t wear a headscarf then and, though the keepers of public morals would sometimes pounce on you, they kept their hands to themselves. You could say to them ‘What’s it got to do with you? I’ve got a father and brothers, so who are you to give me orders?’ They didn’t want problems, so they’d back off. But now you don’t know where to hide. They have the power and the strength and they’re everywhere.”
The pretty young woman in a straight, well-fitting skirt and crisp light-coloured blouse gestures helplessly.
“It’s so humiliating, but you have no other option – you have to put on the headscarf. If, say, they hit you, and that’s not unlikely, then your brothers won’t be able to leave it at that. They’ll have to take action against the aggressors, who will just kill them. You dress according to their rules not so much out of fear for yourself, but to protect your family.”
In June Madina and her friend were fired at from a paintball gun.