Pavel Stroilov, writing on the Spectator blog:
“Russian democracy has been buried under the ruins of New York’s twin towers”, famous KGB rebel Alexander Litvinenko wrote in 2002. The West, he warned, was making a grave mistake of going along with Putin’s dictatorship in exchange for his cooperation in the global war on terror. He would never be an honest partner, and would try to make the Western leaders complicit in his own crimes – from political assassinations to the genocide of Chechens. As a KGB officer, Putin would see every friendly summit-meeting as a potential opportunity to recruit another agent of influence.
David Cameron, whose summit-meeting with Putin coincided with the sombre jubilee of 9/11, would be well-advised to remember these warnings. The previous generation of Western leaders – from Bush to Blair to Schroeder to Berlusconi – has discredited itself by their ‘friendship’ with Putin, and got nothing in return. As The Spectator revealed this summer, there are serious questions to be asked about Russian secret service’s alleged links to Al-Qa’eda. Hopefully, the Prime Minister may have even asked those questions in Moscow.
A Decade with Putin is a Lost Decade
Writing for the German Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, commentator Victor Radio concludes:
The inability to understand criticism as an opportunity to improve his nation has led Vladimir Putin to purse the glorification of the existing “Mother Russia” and a new blind spirit of patriotism. Instead of reform, Putin permitted the nation to rediscover its self-esteem in response to perceived “insults” from the prior decade. Finally holding power, Putin wanted nothing more than to lash out at the nation’s critics. As a result, Russia has been driven to a state of impasse. The Putin decade is a lost decade, with only a facade of democracy being created and no real progress. It is not entirely Putin’s fault, but he bears the entire responsibility.
That description applies not only to the Russian dictator, but to the vast majority of the hapless Russians he rules. Let’s be clear: It is not just that Putin publicly denies that Russia’s critics have any merit, it’s that he flouts their statements as a matter of policy, and allows his nation to continue to degenerate into filth and squalor.
The "president" of Russia is Dmitri Medvedev. His last name is based on the Russian word for "bear." Get it?
Putin, Now and Forever
Speaking to the corrupt and repugnant “Valdai Discussion Club” which consists of a group of so-called “Russia Experts” who travel to Russia at the Kremlin’s expense, dine on caviar at the Kremlin’s expense (while the people of Russia starve and die), and then hopefully spread the Kremlin’s propagandistic lies throughout the world, Russian “prime minister” Vladimir Putin declared when asked whether he would run against “president” Dima Medvedev in 2012: “There will be no competition. We will reach an agreement because we are of the same blood and of the same political outlook. In 2012, we will think together and will take into account the realities of the time, our personal plans, the political landscape and the United Russia party and we will take the decision.”
Vladimir Putin Speaks neo-Soviet Gibberish Fluently
On a visit last week to Abkhazia, Vladimir Putin reminded the world just how deep his KGB roots run. He spewed lies so ridiculous, so totally detached from reality, as to bespeak the worst and most humiliating moments of Soviet-era gibberish.
Putin claimed that “practically all of international society” blames Georgia for the August war with Russia. When asked how this could be so since the overwhemling majority of Westerners openly condemn Russian aggression and have refused to recognize either Ossetia or Abkhazia, Putin explained: “In the West, what is called the West, we have plenty of supporters. They are all under a certain pressure from NATO’s leading country, the United States. And, to put it bluntly, many of them don’t publicly state their positions, because they would then diverge from the U.S. position.”
Paranoia and lies from a classic neo-Soviet man.
Streetwise Professor reports:
I’ve written before on how Russia strikes me as a very Romantic country. Not in the look-into-my-eyes-darling sense of the word, but in the more philosophical sense of the word (note the capitalization). That thought struck with particular force as I began to read Peter Viereck’s Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler. Many of the Romantic strains that Viereck identifies in German history and character types are also pronounced in Russia. Indeed, take virtually any one of the quotes to follow, and you can replace “German” with “Russian” and still strike very close to the bone.
Putin the Man, the Myth, the Monster
In February of 2006, Roman Kupchinsky of Radio Free Europe wrote an article about about Vladimir Putin’s involvement with the St. Petersburg Mining Instiute, which Kupchisnky called “one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Russia, which traces its history back to 1773.” He noted that “in 1997 Putin defended his doctoral dissertation examining how natural resources can contribute to regional economies and strategic planning” and then, two years later, wrote an article for the Institute’s Journal in which he continued his dissertation analysis and “posited that hydrocarbons were key to Russia’s development and the restoration of its former power. He argued that the most effective way to exploit this resource was through state regulation of the fuel sector, and by creating large and vertically integrated companies that would work in partnership with the state.”
Oops. One month later, thanks to the efforts of the left-wing think tank Brookings Institution, the world learned that:
- The unknown person (or persons) who actually wrote the paper had not really “written” it either, but rather simply copied large sections of it from American textbooks
- The degree for which the thesis had been submitted was not doctoral but subdoctoral, so Putin was handed a degree he had not even theoretically, much less actually, earned
Ouch. Given all that, it’s hardly likely that Putin had written the Journal article, either.
Former parliamentarian Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing the Moscow Times, exposes the “fundamental failure” of the Putin regime:
The recent annual meeting of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, a Moscow-based think tank, underscored the confusion and distress among leading Russian politicians, analysts and policymakers. The meeting was dedicated to discussing the results of these last two decades. If in recent years they were all caught up in a frenzy of patriotism, muscle-flexing and shouts of “Russia is rising from its knees!” this spring has marked a clear shift in mood. Now they are much more sober and reflective. The economic crisis and Russia’s continuing foreign policy failures have hit them like one big cold shower.
Writing in the Moscow Times, Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Center states:
How can Putin hold onto his high ratings in the midst of a worsening economic crisis? It is possible that Medvedev’s frenetic schedule in recent weeks is one attempt at resolving that problem. Putin has to be somehow saved from the blow, pulled to the side so as to remove any hint of his being responsible for the negative consequences of the crisis. The only way to do that is to put someone else’s head on the chopping block. But now the country is faced with another problem: Who can rule the country besides Putin?
Of course, there is no guarantee that Medevedev is prepared to go “all the way” with this “chopping block” business, so Putin must hedge his bet. That is where Vladmir Frolov comes in.
Thus once again, writing in the Moscow Times, Putin shil Frolov has turned up the flame under the boiling pot of Russian failure that must be spilled on poor scapegoat, and sooner rather than later, sending a clear message to Medvedev that he must toe the line or be liquidated.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune Business Forum:
Since he came to power in 2000, Vladimir Putin has launched a campaign to recover Russian pride, prestige and influence lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Early on, he decided that Russian’s gas and oil supply would finance both the country’s economic recovery and its return as a global power. Even after stepping aside as president in 2008, Putin continues to make the idea of Russia’s comeback his personal project. His successor, President Dimitry Medvedev, has, by all accounts, identical aims.
Putin is Worse than Any Foreign Foe
If Bob Dylan, of all people, can agree to use his music to hawk Pepsi Cola, surely all things are possible, and we live in hope. But we continue to be amazed and disappointed at the failure of the Obama administration to reverse course on Russia. Given the harsh criticism leveled at former U.S. President George Bush by Obama’s supporters, one would think it would be a no-brainer for them to reject Bush’s declaration that Putin was “trusthworthy” after having “looked into his eyes and glimpsed his soul” and start demanding that Putin respect human rights. And yet, Obama remains silent. In doing so, he betrays not only the interests of his own people but also those of the people of Russia, because their government, largely unopposed by Washington, is driving their economy to ruin.
Russia is Ruled by a Psychopath
In a speech on January 28th before the World Economic forum in Davos Switzerland, Vladimir Putin declared in his 8th paragraph that he would not criticize U.S. economic policy. He states: “Regardless of their political or economic system, all nations have found themselves in the same boat.” Then in the 9th paragraph, he scathingly attacks the U.S. stock market, making no reference to the fact that the performance of the Russian market has been twice as bad and ignoring the sorties by nuclear bombers he has ordered against American targets, as well as the virulently anti-American rhetoric has has been spewing out for months.
That is only the beginning of the insanity.
Anthony Julius, writing on the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog:
As President Obama contemplates his foreign policy inheritance, it is likely that he will ponder most deeply two topics – the continuing threat posed by al-Qaida, and Russia, or what has become known as the war on terror and what was once known as the cold war. What he is unlikely to do, however, is to identify any connection between the two threats. But that would be unfortunate, not least because the men who lead them, notwithstanding the many differences between them, have identical perspectives on one specific issue.
What is that issue? Bin Laden’s and Putin’s imperialist ambitions are novel because they are driven not by a desire to create something new, but to recapture something that has past. It is now appropriate to consider an additional age of empire, namely the age of attempted restoration.
Putin Declares War on Medvedev
Unless we are very much mistaken, the first shot in Vladimir Putin’s war against Dmitri Medvedev was fired on December 29th by Putin shill Vladimir Frolov in his Moscow Times column.
Headlined “Putin’s Remote Control puts Kremlin on Mute,” the article states: “When Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Medvedev responded with a strong show of force and moved to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, a move denounced by all major powers.”
Note how Frolov blames the Georgia invasion directly on Medvedev personally, and even goes so far as to acknowledge worldwide denunciation of the move. This well illustrates how awfully handy it is to have an expendable “president” around to get the blame for mistakes. In fact, if one were inclined to attribute genius to Putin, one might even suspect he knew the crisis was coming and stepped aside specifically to avoid it. How long will it be before some other Putin flack blames the economic crisis on Medvedev as well, pointing out how rosy things were before Putin left the Kremlin?
Often enough you hear the sycophantic Russophile set complaining that Russian “president” Vladimir Putin is being mis-translated, quoted out of context or misquoted. Covering up Putin’s litany of outrageous, thug-like remarks is a demanding full time job, especially when Putin insists on making it so very difficult.
Case in point: One might have thought that after Russia was humiliated by French revelations that Putin had told their government he wanted to not only invade Tbilisi and affect regime change but hang the president of Georgia “up by the balls,” Putin would have taken the next opportunity to distance himself somewhat from the comment, perhaps even to blame evil foreigners for mischaracterizing his statement.
But he didn’t.
From the London Review of Books, an account of Putin teetering on the brink of Soviet-style collapse:
The financial crisis – or, as we like to call it here, ‘the effects of the American and European financial crisis on Russia’ – has taken a little while to get going, but it’s going now. Yesterday my grandmother sat me down for a serious conversation: she wanted to know if she should take her rouble-denominated life savings out of the Sberbank and put them into dollars. Everyone’s a financial adviser now. Or rather, I’m a financial adviser now. This is not good.
Putin is the new Brezhnev
Writing on Georgian Daily, scholar Paul Goble notes that Russian analysts are finding many parallels between Putin’s Russia and Brezhnev’s USSR:
Russia increasingly resembles Brezhnev’s USSR with its “imitation of power, imitation of obedience, imitation of unanimity of belief and imitation of trust,” according to a leading Russian commentator, an implicit warning that those who are comfortable with that should remember what happened after the Soviet leader passed away.
In an article in the current issue of Moscow’s “New Times,” Valery Panyushkin says that the gap between image and reality became glaring at the time of the Georgian war, with Russian forces on the ground not doing what the Russian president said he had ordered them to do. In the hearing of all, he continues, Dmitry Medvedev said that “the war is over and the army is stopping and leaving Georgia.” But “the army did not stop and it did not leave.” Either the army was acting in an insubordinate way or at a minimum “sabotaging the public order of the supreme commander.” And this situation only became worse when, as the international financial crisis began to affect Russia sending the stock market, exchange rates, and employment down, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went around the country denying the obvious, saying that there was no crisis and that anyone who said otherwise was sowing panic.
The blog Cicero’s Songs gives us chapter and verse exposing “The Disastrous Miscalculation of Vladimir Putin.”
As I have warned over the past few months, Russia is being particularly badly hit by the global financial crisis. Partly this is a function of the severity of the collapse of commodity prices, especially oil and gas, which has had an exceptionally serious impact on a country where 85% of GDP relies on the extraction of raw materials. However the scale of the crisis in Russia has been hugely increased by a number of massive miscalculations by the Silovik state. Now the speed and scale of the Russian meltdown could conceivably become a threat to the stability of the Silovik regime itself.
Vladimir Putin’s Wake of Failure
Yana Ryzheva, a 20-year-old student, was one of 150 people fired from a Web publication on Thursday. It’s “practically impossible to find another job,” she said. “People are being cut everywhere.”
— The Associated Press, October 18th
In English, a language of strange homonyms, the word “wake” can mean either the backwash of a marine vessel or a funeral commemoration. The language achieves unique power when a pair of contrasting definiations are both applicable, as is the case in regard to the use of this word in regard to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Former Kremlin insider Andrei Illarionov has shown that even an oil-dependent African nation like Nigeria is better governed than is Putin’s Russia (international surveys routinely show Russia, a supposed G-8 nation, in the company of African backwaters when judged for quality of governance and civil society). Student Ryzheva was speaking about Moscow, and even there the apocalyptic pain of Putin’s mismanagement of the Russian ecomony is already being felt at street level. But Moscow is the center of Russia’s wealth and power; in more remote regions, the population was already suffering brutal poverty that led to Russian men not living to reach their 60th year on average, a lifespan that excludes Russia from the top 100 nations of the world in that category. The wake of failure, pain and humiliation created by Putin’s pathetic inability to understand basic realities of market economics is laid out chapter and verse by the AP story.
Radio Free Europe reports:
At the end of September, Russian state television broadcast a half-hour “special report” that charged foreign intelligence services, particularly the CIA, as using Russian nongovernmental organizations to foment dissent. The broadcast was eerily reminiscent of similar “special reports” that appeared on Serbian state television during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic. And the purpose of the broadcast was the same — to mobilize a frightened society against shadowy external “enemies.”
Such crass propaganda is just one of many similarities between the authoritarian regimes of Milosevic and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Writing on USA Today‘s blog Ralph Peters of the newspaper’s Board of Contributors argues that we should be scared by the racist evil that is Vladimir Putin:
Why Putin should scare us
He’s an ethnic nationalist with a mystical sense of Russian destiny.
Cold and pragmatic, he won’t play by the world’s rules.
Possessing a clear vision of where he wants to go and the ruthlessness to get there, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is the world’s most effective national leader in power. He also might be the most misunderstood.
Grasping what Putin’s about means recognizing what he isn’t about: Despite his KGB past and his remark that the Soviet Union’s dissolution was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, Putin isn’t nostalgic for communism. By the time he joined the KGB in the mid-1970s, the organization was purely about preserving the power structure — not upholding abstract philosophies.
Bitter Medicine for Little Volodya Putin
It must have been rather galling for Vladimir Putin to watch the amazing vitality of the U.S. stock market displayed on Thursday, as it recouped the lion’s share of the 500-point loss it sustained the prior day to close the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 11,000. It was the market’s greatest triumph in six years. After all, Russia’s market has been taking similar point-value hits in recent weeks, yet the RTI average has only been worth, at its peak, one fifth the point value of the DJIA, meaning that the percentage impact on the Russian market has been immeasurably greater.
So while the American market kept right on trading even as major American firms like Lehman and Lynch collapsed and AIG teetered on the brink, the Russian market was shut down. It’s been out of action now more a day and a half, with the Russian government apparently feeling that simply ordering folks not to trade is a wonderful way to show the market’s rock-solid stability. And indeed – lo and behold! – with trading banned outright the RJI has not lost a single kopeck! This gives new meaning to the term “Potemkin Village” and echoes back to the very worst days of the USSR. The Kremlin’s next “plan” is to simply spend Russia’s savings to buy stocks and artifically inflate their value, in the hopes of being able to reopen its Potemkin market and continue the ridiculous charade. Meanwhile healthcare, air safety, and countless other crucial national problems will go wholly ignored, just as in Soviet times.
It was not supposed to be like this, of course.
Writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor Jonas Bernstein exposes that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin now finds himself between a very hard rock and a very hard place:
Has the conflict between Russia and Georgia jeopardized hopes that Russia can pursue a path of economic modernization based on “innovation,” as both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have promised? That view was put forward by political scientist Lilia Shevtsova, of the Carnegie Moscow Center, in an interview with Yevgeny Kiselyov on his program “Vlast” on September 12. Shevtsova argued more generally that Russia’s ruling tandem had become a hostage of its own anti-Western propaganda.
In our last issue we published a post called “Putin the Wimp.” Now here’s some photographic backup for that conclusion. Shown above is Vladimir Putin the flunkie (are those pants actually purple?!) with his boss former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, circa 1994. Sobchak, who would be drummed out of office and then flee the country in disgrace while facing a massive corruption investigation (much like exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky), gave Putin his start in political life. Perhaps Putin hates Berezovsky so much because the oligarch reminds him of things he’d rather forget. Putin is also a plagiarist. That may have been one of the key features of his resume that attracted Sobchak.