Vladimir Putin, Surrounded
Last week, we must say, was an exceedingly delightful one if you are a Russophobe. Vladimir Putin got his from every direction, left, right and center.
On the left, he was besieged by a group of incensed OMON officers — you read that right, OMON — who turned out to have written to Russian “president” Dima Medvedev begging him to take action to curb corruption run amok within their ranks.
An OMON stormtrooper (they’re not unlike Hitler’s SS) is paid the pathetic sum $5.30 per hour for his work. He’s told that unless he arrests three citizens on every shift, his wages will be cut to$3.18 per hour, in other words by 40%. Think maybe some innocent people are doing to get arrested under such a scenario? That’s only the beginning: Their pathetic salaries and barbaric working conditions have apparently led any number of these officers to take jobs working protection rackets for everyone from the mafia to small business. In other words, business as usual in Russian law enforcement. The Kremlin has a response: It calls these officers “disgruntled” and claimed they had been previously disciplined. The Kremlin does not appear interested in asking how OMON’s ranks could be filled with so many officers who are slandering liars, nor in asking how many other such persons might be in the ranks and not yet been fired.
Then on the left came Medvedev’s own supposedly loyal think tank, the Institute of Contemporary Development, proclaiming their conclusion that Russia must experience sweeping reform undoing most of the major Putin anti-democracy initiatives if the country is to survive.
And finally, right down the center came Putin’s hand-picked leader of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Sergei Mironov, openly attacking the new Putin budget.
To put it mildly: Ouch! Nasty cracks are beginning to appear in the Putin foundation, there for all to see.
To put a perfect little radioactive cherry on this racid sundae of humiliating failure, the Ukrainains –yes, the Ukrainians — busted a large network of KGB spies operating in their country, busted them red-handed so that their masters in Moscow could do nothing but mutter gibberish. The event came at the worst possible time imaginable, just when Russia was hoping for enhanced influence in Ukraine as a result of the pending presidential elections.
And all that is to say nothing of the wave of mass protests that swept the country and had Putin at the throat of his own party, looking panicky, weak and confused.
This could well have been Vladimir Putin’s very worst week since he arrived in the Kremlin. Everywhere he turned, stunning disasters awaited his gaze.
We could not be better pleased.