EDITORIAL: Behind Putin, Incompetence and Corruption

EDITORIAL

Behind Putin, Incompetence and Corruption

A stunning fact recently revealed by scholar Paul Goble is that no Russian ambassador earns more than $36,000 per year, less than the average yearly salary in the United States.  And scholar Andrei Illarionov shows us that the men pulling the strings for these “diplomats,” (who in fact have no real freedom of action and act like puppets of the Kremlin) are nothing but a barbaric hoard of KGB thugs.

Goble says that the housing and living conditions provided by Russia to its ambassadors is what you would expect from such a salary (in fact, most ambassadors are paid far less), and one can only speculate about what sort of person would accept a position of this kind.  Surely, it is not likely to be a person who can put Russia’s best face forward, or who can relay many insights about forieign  psychology to the Kremlin which it can rely upon in making foreign policy.  Little wonder then that Russia faces such a desperately bad image in the West.

But even if Vladimir Putin did have a competent, fairly paid staff of professional diplomats, how would the KGB clan they report to possibly be able to formulate a civilized foreign policy for the country?  Reading Illarionov’s description, it is palpably obvious that they could not possibly do so.  He notes:  “According to a 2006 study by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, the head of the Center for the Study of Elites at the Russian Academy of Sciences, people with a security background filled 77 percent of Russia’s top 1,016 governmental positions. Of these, only about a third stated their affiliation openly.”  That was three years ago. The situation has only gotten worse since then.  They dominate every corner of the Kremlin, every aspect of policy.  They win arguments with bullets.

These men behave like the thugs they are.  Illarionov writes:

Since its outset, the siloviki regime has been aggressive. At first it focused on actively destroying centers of independent political, civil, and economic life within Russia. Upon achieving those goals, the regime’s aggressive behavior turned outward beyond Russia’s borders. At least since the assassination of the former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Doha, Qatar, on 14 February 2004, aggressive behavior by SI in the international arena has become the rule rather than the exception. Over the last five years, the regime has waged ten different “wars” (most of them involving propaganda, intelligence operations, and economic coercion rather than open military force) against neighbors and other foreign nations. The most recent targets have included Ukraine (subjected to a “second gas war” in early 2009), the United States (subjected to a years-long campaign to rouse anti-American sentiment), and most notoriously, Georgia (actually bombed and invaded in 2008).

In addition to their internal psychological need to wage aggressive wars, a rational motive is also driving the siloviki to resort to conflict.War furnishes the best opportunities to distract domestic public opinion and destroy the remnants of political and intellectual opposition within Russia itself. An undemocratic regime worried about the prospect of domestic economic, social, and political crises—such as those that now haunt Russia amid recession and falling oil prices—is likely to be pondering further acts of aggression. The note I end on, therefore, is a gloomy one: To me, the probability that Siloviki Incorporated will be launching new wars seems alarmingly high.

It’s barbarism, pure and simple, and it can’t lead to the development of a powerful, respected modern state.

10 responses to “EDITORIAL: Behind Putin, Incompetence and Corruption

  1. And, they are doing an outstanding job.

    Russia’s Neighbors Resist Wooing and Bullying

    By ELLEN BARRY

    Published: July 2, 2009

    MOSCOW — This was supposed to be Russia’s round in the battle over its backyard. All year, despite its own economic spasms, Moscow has earmarked great chunks of cash for its impoverished post-Soviet neighbors, seeking to lock in their loyalty over the long term and curtail Western influence in the region.

    But the neighbors seem to have other ideas. Belarus — which was promised $2 billion in Russian aid — is in open rebellion against the Kremlin, flaunting its preference for Europe while also collecting money from the International Monetary Fund. Uzbekistan joined Belarus in refusing to sign an agreement on the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces, an idea Moscow sees as an eventual counterweight to NATO.

    There are other examples, like Turkmenistan’s May signing of a gas exploration deal with a German company, and Armenia’s awarding of a major national honor to Moscow’s nemesis, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia. But the biggest came last week when Kyrgyzstan — set to receive $2.15 billion in Russian aid — reversed a decision that had been seen as a coup for Moscow, last winter’s order terminating the American military’s use of the Manas Air Base there.

    “A game of chance has developed in the post-Soviet space: Who can swindle the Kremlin in the coolest way?” wrote the military analyst Aleksandr Golts, when news of the Manas decision broke. “Such a brilliant result of Russia’s four-year diplomatic efforts!”

    There are few projects that matter more to Russia than restoring its influence in the former Soviet republics, whose loss to many in Moscow is still as painful as a phantom limb. Competition over Georgia and Ukraine has brought relations between Moscow and Washington to a post-cold-war low, and the matter is bound to be central to the talks that begin on Monday between Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, and President Obama.

    Russia’s ability to attract its neighbors to its side and keep them there is unimpressive. The Kremlin’s methods have been reactive and often bullying, combining incentives like cheap energy or cash disbursement with threats of trade sanctions and gas cutoffs.

    The war in Georgia seems to have hurt Moscow in that regard. Rather than being cowed into obedience, as most Western observers feared, the former republics seem to have grown even more protective of their sovereignty. Moreover, the leaders themselves have thrived by playing Russia and the West and, in some cases, China off against one another, although that has not brought stability or prosperity to their countries.

    In Moscow’s so-called zone of privileged interests, in other words, Russia is just another competitor.

    “There is no loyalty,” said Oksana Antonenko, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London. “Rivalry is the persistent dynamic. They have to play in that game, to compete.”

    Kyrgyzstan’s reversal on Manas is a case study in canny horse trading. Russian officials, including Mr. Medvedev, have said they blessed the decision, and that may be true, but President Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev is the one who walked away with what he wanted. ……………….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/world/europe/03russia.html?_r=2&ref=global-home

  2. Here is another classic example of kremlin diplomacy. The kremlin manipulates the Chechnians to exterminate the Ingushetian nationality.

    This will make the kremlin happy because they not have to send in their own cannon fodder to exterminate them [again], they will sit back and drink vodka, while the he Ingushetians and Chechnians exterminate each other, and laugh because they just killed two birds with one stone; and, nobody can accuse them of just another typical kremlin orchestrated GENOCIDE??

    Gunmen kill nine Chechen police in Russia’s Ingushetia

    MOSCOW, July 4 (Reuters) – Nine Chechen police officers were killed on Saturday in the Russian republic of Ingushetia after gunmen opened fire on their convoy, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported, citing the republic’s interior ministry.

    The attackers, who fired automatic weapons at the police convoy from a forest at the roadside, also left nine policemen badly wounded, the news agency reported. ………………..

    The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov vowed to respond to the assassination attempt against Yevkurov by sending in his own troops to quell the insurgency there.
    “We will take no captives, we will destroy them. As long as they exist there will be blood,” he told Reuters. ……………………

    http://www.kyivpost.com/world/44638

    • Divide et impera has been standard Russian strategy in the Caucusus for the last two centuries. Stalin, as Comissar of Nationalities, was especially effective at this. (Of course, he knew the region quite well.)

      This naturally however, tells you the true nature of Russian rule in the Caucusus. It is one of the last remaining holdovers of the Colonial Era.

  3. According to a 2006 study by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, the head of the Center for the Study of Elites at the Russian Academy of Sciences, people with a security background filled 77 percent of Russia’s top 1,016 governmental positions.

    That’s an astounding number. It simply confirms that the FSB clan is ruling Russia.

    I’m not so sure that starting another war would work out as a distraction. As dimwitted as Russian sheeple are they do understand now that properity is slipping away and a decade has been lost with nothing to show for it. Which is not to say they will ever turn on these Kremlin thugs like the Iranians. As Putin sinks in polls the siloviki will be forced to drop more crumbs on the core United Russia voters.

  4. “Domestic politics is very much grounded on opposition to the West,” said Denis Volkov, a researcher at Moscow’s Levada Center who has conducted polls on Russian attitudes toward America. “It’s very often used as an excuse, as a pillar of the popularity of Russian leaders and as the proof of the rebirth of Russian power.”

    In Russia, cozy ties with the West are associated with the impotence, humiliation and corruption of the 1990s. Hostility, on the other hand, is considered a hallmark of strength, smacking of Soviet empire and Putin’s oil-rich ride in the presidency.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-russia-american4-2009jul04,0,7413839.story

    The Cold War will always play well with the cement brained Sovok Putin enablers, the majority of Russians, hey, after all they felt national pride and power during the Cold War. Never mind that when the curtain got pulled away they were as materially poor and as civil society ignorant as anyone found in the Third World or that middle class Americans had no way of relating to the physical squalor of Communism or their failed lack of imagination or desire for democratic advancement over the years.

    That the tired old Cold War paradigm still plays well in Russia is a measure of what a stuck on stupid failure the country is. Cultures like Russia that feed off of feelings rather than rationally thinking are doomed.

    Russia can’t disappear fast enough.

  5. penny
    “Russia can’t disappear fast enough.”

    You seem to be making some progress on Russia. Napoleon and Hitler came to that same conclusion long time ago. My congratulations!

    Most probably you took the demise of the Soviet Union for the death of Russia. It’s not exactly so, the continent of EURASIA is just reshaping and modifying itself for future battles with the US global parasit and its EU clients on a leash. In the next couple of years you’ll be exporting nothing but verbal trash about the Great American Way. They don’t need it neither in China, nor in Russia.
    Stop thinking about Russia as about Russia itself, Russia is EURASIA.

  6. LES

    “Stop thinking about Russia as about Russia itself, Russia is EURASIA.” — “In your dreams!”
    ???

    Check the map, buddy. :-)

  7. Hmm, Russia is a eurasian state, what with part in Europe, and part in Asia.

    Check the map yourself “buddy”

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