Daily Archives: November 15, 2008

November 17, 2008 — Contents

MONDAY NOVEMBER 17 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Putin is Responsible

(2)  Putin is Responsible, Part I:  The Economy

(3)  Putin is Responsible, Part II:  Military Policy

(4)  Putin is Responsible, Part III:  Race Violence

(5)  Putin is Responsible, Part IV:  How he Did it

(6)  Putin is Responsible, Part V: What we can Do about it

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EDITORIAL: Putin is Responsible

EDITORIAL

Putin is Responsible

Today we publish a series of items from the Russian press which clearly show that across a wide range of policy issues the incompetence and sheer evil personified by the dictator Vladimir Putin is betraying Russia’s fundamental interests. We follow them with analysis of the problem by Western experts, including a practical plan of action.

Mr. Putin has attempted to claim credit for Russia’s alleged “resurgence” during the first eight years in which he ruled the country.  That is the  basis of his overwhelming support among Russians in opinion polls.  If he is entitled to such credit, then he must equally accept all blame in connection with the recent catastrophic failures that Russia has experienced.  The economy is in ruins, race violence is exploding, and Russia has been spurned by every nation on the planet except the most venal criminal regimes in response to its barbaric violation of international law when it attacked Georgia in August.  The Caucasus region is unraveling into increasingly bloody violence, fundamentally undermining the basic precept upon which Putin claimed power.

It is long past time for the civilized world to stand up to Vladimir Putin and to the people of Russia who blithely accord him unfettered power.  President-elect Barack Obama must take the lead in doing so. If he fails, history will condemn him in the strongest terms.

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Putin is Responsible: Part I — The Economy

In the first of our multi-part installment today on Russians blaming Putin for the national collapse in the Russian press, Paul Goble reports:

After first trying to deny that there was a crisis in Russia and then blaming it all on events in the West, the Russian government has taken measures that are exacerbating the situation in ways that threaten to create a revolutionary situation, according to an increasing number of Russian commentators. And while some of these suggestions reflect the apocalypticism characteristic of much Russian political discourse, the arguments they offer and the evidence they provide in support of their views merits attention particularly as that country faces more problems ahead given rising anger among both key elites and the population as a whole about what is going on. One of the most thorough and thoughtful analyses of just how serious the situation may be becoming is offered by Dmitry Tayevsky, an analyst who writes for the Babr.ru portal. He argues that the foundation of the current crisis in Russia reflects “not economic problems but serious administrative miscalculations.”

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Putin is Responsible: Part II — Defense Policy

In the second of our multi-part installment on Russians blaming Putin for the national collapse, Other Russia provides a translation of defense expert Alexander Golts, writing in Yezedevny Zhurnal:

If it were up to me, I would strictly forbid Russian commanders from making statements about the constantly growing might of our armed forces. Remember, all it took was for Vladimir Putin to call a Security Council and declare the coming ascent of our defense capabilities, when the Kursk submarine sank. Afterwards, speaking with his subordinate public in 2006, Putin boasted that a new class of missile carrying submarines would be introduced in the near future. Then it became clear that there were no missiles for them. Yet another test of the Bulava rocket ended in failure. And now it appears that that this increased “foresight” gets passed on with the Kremlin Cabinet.

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Putin is Responsible: Part III — Race Violence

This is the third part in our series today on material in the Russian press blaming Vladimir Putin’s policy failures for the wave of national catastrophes sweeping over Russia. Paul Goble reports:

The number of extremist crimes in the Russian Federation rose 62.4 percent from 2007 to 2008, senior officials say, but Moscow experts suggest that this figure “has nothing in common” with reality and that the actual number of hate crimes is perhaps five times greater than the number reported. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation Procuracy, has said that there had been 380 hate crimes reported to the authorities in the first three quarters of 2008, “62.4 percent more” than in the same period a year ago.

Moreover, he added, many of the hate crimes registered this year are more violent and destructive of human life and property than they were in earlier years, a disturbing trend that he suggested the Russian Federation’s militia and prosecutors are doing everything they can to reverse. But as frightening as the data Markin presented, independent experts disputed it, arguing that the authorities were including many incidents that should not be counted as hate crimes even as they ignore the far larger number of criminal actions that are never reported to the militia or that the militia refuses to deal with at all.

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Putin is Responsible, Part IV: How he did it

Russia expert Leon Aron of the American Enteprise Institue, writing on The American website, explains how Vladimir Putin had acquired the necessary amount of arbitrary power to enable him to commit all the gross policy errors we have document in todays multi-part issue from the Russian press.

On May 7, 2008, Russia inaugurated a new president, Dmitry Medvedev, the third president the country has seen since the fall of communism. A new era in Russian history had begun.

Or had it? The very next day, Russia confirmed a new—er, old—prime minister, former president Vladimir Putin. And in so doing, Russia marked not the beginning of a new era, but the continuation of an earlier, worrisome one.

Putin is by far the strongest former leader in Russian history. He maintains heavy influence over the inner circles of power and in the minds of the public—in a national survey, 60 percent of respondents agreed that “despite Medvedev’s election, the power will remain in the hands of Putin and his entourage.”

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Putin is Responsible, Part V: How to stop him

Russia expert David Satter of the Hudson Institute, writing in Forbes magazine, gives us a simple battle plan for standing up to the dangers of Putinism in Russia, the perfect cap on today’s series exploding the myth that Putin is good for Russia:

One of the most serious challenges facing Barack Obama will be finding a way to keep an aggressive Russia under control.

Internal developments in Russia are extremely worrying. The Russian economy is beginning to unravel under the impact of collapsing oil prices, and changes to the Russian Constitution are planned that will probably return Vladimir Putin to office and make him president for life. At the same time, Russia is threatening to target American anti-missile installations in Eastern Europe with short-range missiles and, more important, to interfere with them electronically, which is unquestionably the action of a hostile power.

Under these circumstances, President Obama, in dealing with Russia, must try to avoid traditional American mistakes. In most cases, the learning curve for an American president in relation to Russia takes up his entire term in office. Obama may not have that luxury. The following are some basic principles for dealing with Russia that can help to cut the learning period short.

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