Dima “Slimeball” Trenin
It’s that time again, dear reader, to catch up with the neo-Soviet misadventures of our little friend Dima “Just call me Slimeball” Trenin.
When last we met Mr. Trenin, of the Moscow Carnegie Centre, darling of Kremlin-owned propaganda outlets Russia Today and Russia Profile, he was being spit upon by the heroic Andrei Piotkovsky as Trenin hosted a cocktail party to tout his propaganda tract “Getting Russia Right” whilst Piontkovsky faced criminal charges for criticizing the Kremlin in Moscow. We blasted Trenin’s blind nationalism in the very earliest days of this blog’s history, but nothing prepared us for what we found in the Moscow Times from this reptilian’s pen last week.
Somewhere, Andrew Carnegie is rolling over in his grave and screaming.
This nasty little toadstool of a man writes the following love ode to Vladimir Putin and his puppet Dima Medvedev:
To dismiss Medvedev as a mere Putin puppet — a constitutional bridge between Putin’s second and third presidential terms — would be both unfair and wrong. Russia’s third president has a broader role and a distinct function. Conversely, portraying Putin as “a man from the past” and Medvedev as “a hope for the future” exaggerates the differences between them and omits the more important factors that unite them. A better analytical model is needed. For all the apparent freshness of Medvedev’s recent pronouncements — including his now-famous “Go, Russia!” article that sounded a clarion call for modernization and liberalism — he is borrowing massively from Putin’s vocabulary of 2000. This suggests that the issue of modernization, which lay dormant throughout the fat years of high oil prices, is back on the Kremlin agenda. In 2008, Medvedev was installed in the Kremlin as part of “Putin’s Plan,” the substantive part of which was known as “Strategy 2020,” a blueprint for continued economic growth and diversification. The intervening crisis only made the Kremlin modify and sharpen its plan. And Medvedev is a key agent in its execution.
These are, of course, all lies. The only reason Russia has seen any improvement in living conditions under Putin is the random accident of rising world oil prices, which Putin, as has been well-documented, has failed to properly exploit to his people’s advantage. And, as the world saw last year when the Russianstock market lost three-fourths of its value in a few months, what random chance giveth, random chance also taketh away. Under Putin, Russia suffers brutally from “Dutch disease” and has totally failed to develop a diversified economy. Putin has not put a single Russian product into the stream of world commerce in ten years of stewardship, and Russia still does not rank in the top 100 nations of the world for lifespan. Russians continue to live in squalid poverty and are much worse off under Putin than without him. Putin is a man with absolutely no grounding in business or economics, and it’s simply absurd to suggest he could be capable of developing successful p0licies in this realm, indeed that he would even want to try.
And even if he did, his brutal negation of human rights and democracy would make the improvement far too costly. Below in today’s issue, we document Putin’s shameless, outrageous war crimes and his relentless efforts to revive the Soviet Gulag. Putin spent his entire life in the KGB, and he’s proud of it. To suggest that he somehow magically transformed into a modern man when the USSR collapsed is the raving of madman. But to the likes of Trenin, Putin is simply a “conservative modernizer” like Pyotr Stolypin, and it appears that Trenin would like to kiss him full on the mouth for his heroic service to Russia:
Putin wants to finish the job [begun by Stolypin], and much works in his favor. He is the tsar. He has both money — the government’s budget and the oligarchs’ fortunes — and the coercive power of the state firmly in his hand. He is the arbiter at the top and the trouble-shooter in social conflicts below. His most precious resource is his personal popularity, which adds a flavor of consent to his authoritarian regime.
So what, in other words, if Putin feels he needs to execute and imprison dissidents. That’s just the wonderful “coercive power of the state” moving Russia towards a bright future. You know, the same way Stalin did. So what if Putin has alienated the entire world, even the likes of China and Belarus (as we document in today’s issue, Russia is declaring energy war on its Slavic “little brother” to the South)? Putin is still personally popular, just like Stalin was, and who cares if the country is going straight into the crapper?
And yet, Trenin does admit Putin has a problem. His power is not yet absolute, so Trenin’s pleasure is not yet fully sublime:
None of that is good enough. The 75 percent of Russians who make up the Putin majority are essentially passive and seek only the preservation of a paternalistic state. Putin can sit comfortably on their support, but he cannot ride forward with it. The best and brightest are not there. Enter Medvedev. His Internet-surfing, compassionate and generally liberal image helps recruit a key constituency — those beyond the reach of Putin himself — to Putin’s plan. They include the country’s most apolitical citizens and its brainy, techy youth. Whether the plan succeeds is another matter.
So he admits that Medevedev is nothing but a sham, an artifice designed to dupe Russia’s intelligentsia into accepting Putin’s rule. And yet he thinks Putin a “modernizer”? How is this sham any different from what Russians saw in Soviet times? Indeed, not even then did the KGB so directly rule Russia.
And then we get the full-blown neo-Soviet snowjob:
Conservative modernization is a gamble. To modernize Russia, one must break the stranglehold of corruption, establish accountability and free the media. At some point, Putin and Medvedev will have to decide: Either they give priority to the survival of the current system and accept Russia’s steady marginalization, or they start opening up the system, putting its survival at risk. Given the weight of geopolitical factors in Russian decision making, it is difficult to foretell which path they will choose. Putin is no King Lear. He understands leadership and control and does not plan to retire. But Medvedev, today’s front-office guy, is more of a junior partner than a simple salesperson. If he grows in stature and influence, he may eventually inherit the store. One thing is clear, though: He does not like raw meat and the taste of blood.
Let’s be absolutely clear: Putin and his stooges like Trenin want the West to drop its guard long enough for Putin, who is in fact a very weak leader because the mechanisms of totalitarian control are not fully developed and the economy is in shambles, to consolidate his power. They want us to believe Putin will “get around” to democracy as soon as he gets the chance, and that Medvedev is his “partner” and a check on his power. That way, we’ll relax and drop our opposition when Putin seeks to return as “president” for life.
We must not do so. Trenin, like most Russians, is so drunk with lust for conquest and domination that he simply doesn’t care about morality or human life. He’s prepared to anoint anyone, using any tactics, who can make the world tremble before Russian might. Even though he, like his countrymen, watched this insanity destroy the country in the past, they’re prepared to do it all over again until the nation is ground into dust.