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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

EDITORIAL: Putin's Russia, Heading for the Abyss


Putin's Russia, Heading for the Abyss

In September of last year, we reported on how "Russia" had won a European basketball title by relying on the play of an American. This paralleled the success of "Russian" tennis player Maria Sharapova, who abandoned Russia as a child and learned how to play in the United States, going on to become Russia's highest-ranked player in history (and, for that matter, the success of the Russian football side, coached by a Dutchman).

It seems Russians have decided that letting Americans do their winning for them is the best way to achieve glory, so they're doing it again. Now the Russian women's basketball team is going to field an American player in its bid for a medal at the Beijing Olympiad.

These are just a few more signs of the apocalypse for neo-Soviet Russia, and there are lots more where they came from.

For instance, on Sunday the Constitution of the new nation of Kosovo came into force, after the fledgling country had been recognized by all the major Western powers. Then on Monday it was reported that Russia's Foreign Ministry had stated: "This act continues a string of measures for the arbitral formalization of the territory's sovereignty and the policy of violating international law, only aggravating the tense situation in Kosovo and isolating the Serb population."

Just as in Soviet times, Russia continues to live in a dream world where the victories of American athletes prove Russian sports supremacy and where the recognition of dozens of countries for a new nation means nothing and Russia imagines it can decree reality utterly on its own. Russia believes it can demand that the world stay out of Russia's "internal" affairs -- like the human rights disaster that is Chechnya -- and yet Russia feels itself free to barge right in to the internal affairs of other nations, like Kosovo and Georgia (which recently announced it will block Russia's entry to the WTO because of barbarically aggressive Russian moves in Abkhazia). It imagines Chechnya has been pacified, yet we routinely report outbreaks of bloody violence and terror -- and below we report two more.

Cut off from the flow of real information and criticism in exactly the same way that the old USSR was, like the infamous Emperor with his New Clothes Russians live ever more fully in a dream world, unaware of the consequences and marching lemming-like towards a massive abyss of failure exactly like the one the USSR encountered.

In a June 6th op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise scholar Michael Rubin referred to the current ruler of Turkey as a man whose "impatience with the rule of law and dictatorial tendencies make him appear less an aggrieved democrat, and more a protégé of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – a man whom Western officials now acknowledge to be a dictator." The piece was headlined: "Turkey's Putin Deserves to Go."

Putin is now a buzzword for oppression, not so different from Hitler or Stalin. This is the reality, no matter how deep the people of Russia choose to thrust their heads into the sand to avoid seeing it. And with every single day that passes, this reality is etched more deeply in stone.

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