Dear La Russophobe,
I read with interest that Vladimir Putin says he is a democrat, that unfortunately no one else is, and that he is the only pure democrat there has been since Mahatma Gandhi. Well of course the Americans aren’t democratic. (Look at the debacle over the 2000 election in Florida and the hanging chads.) But apparently Brezhnev was not a democrat. Shock horror! Even the leader of the Liberal Democratic party Vladimir Zhirinovsky is not a democrat! But Putin is. And there was me thinking that he had spent half his time rolling back democracy in Russia and trying to prevent democracy from breaking out in other countries. But he put me right. Presumably he is democratic like the German Democratic Republic was (after all he used to work as a KGB agent defending the regime there). Actually it used to annoy me a lot when commentators on the Olympics referred to East Germany in that way, or even if they just called them the DDR. I find it similarly annoying when North Korea is referred to as the DPRK. But it takes Putin to call them by their name in its full form. Not only that. In his infamous Munich Speech was the sentence “Today many other countries have these missiles, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan and Israel.” He makes it sound as if North Korea is a worker’s paradise and the citizens of ordinary Korea can only look on it with envy. In fact, he was talking about proliferation of missile technology. But, very cleverly he reeled off a list of the countries that have obtained or are trying to obtain nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty… plus South Korea, which has not, thereby giving the false impression that perhaps South Korea has been trying to produce nuclear missiles. In fact, in contrast to North Korea, in recent decades it has scrupulously observed IAEA requirements on nuclear non-proliferation. If we stick to what Putin actually said (about missiles) he is still creating the false impression that South Korea had to be lumped in with North Korea and Iran in terms of trying to develop offensive long range missiles. In fact, North Korea transferred missile technology to Pakistan in exchange for nuclear technology, possesses a missile with a range of 1300km and is believed to be working on longer range missiles. South Korea, again in contrast only has missiles of 300km range supplied to it by the US, which it needs for obvious reasons. Perhaps the above shows that this and other speeches by Putin deserve to be analysed in depth. Anyway I think that the DPRK should be officially renamed the North Korean Vicious Dictatorship or NKVD.
Very truly yours,