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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oleg Kozlovsky: Postcard from Finland

Robert Amsterdam journeyed to Finland to attend the anti-Putin conference there, and met with Oleg Kozlovsky. He praises him to the sky, calling him "a young man of admirable courage and intelligence - the kind of person that means so much for the future of the country" and saying "It was a great pleasure to meet Oleg, and he has my full support in his peaceful resistance to authoritarianism, and his demands for greater political inclusion and participation." He brings back a postcard from Finland written by Oleg himself:

In the meantime, yet another event of presidential scale took place: premier Putin in Paris met not only with his colleague François Fillon, but also with the current president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy and with the previous one – Jacques Chirac. Sources have reported that Putin and the heads of the French state “exchanged opinions on urgent foreign policy questions”. In the meantime, even a child knows that questions of foreign policy, in accordance with the Constitution of the RF, are the prerogative of the president, and not the premier.

That is, once again we see the presidential habits of the former president.

One of the newspapers even wrote just this: “If before discussion of the foreign policy of Russia remained the prerogative of the head of state, then now, from all appearances, the new premier has greater space for manoeuver.”

Power – is a sticky and infectious thing for sticky and infectious people. Vaclav Havel, as an example, did not seek to hold on to the chair of the top official of his country. Probably because he was morally self-sufficient and smart. Putin, on the other hand, as is not difficult to notice, is afraid of becoming a nobody again. By the way, even at the post of prime minister he could become a nobody: all that would be needed would be to cut off his access to television – which made him and which continues to make him to this day. One day, historians are going to write a book about how television can make a somebody out of a nobody and how later this nobody once again changes into a nobody without television.

Apparently, there is an understanding between Putin and Medvedev about how Putin will get as much time on TV as Medvedev. Or maybe there isn’t such an understanding, but there is an order, as blunt as a kersey boot, from Putin and his entourage to all the television channels to PR Putin as before, as if though he were the president. Furthermore, sometimes Putin is shown on Russian television more frequently and for a longer time than Medvedev. Anybody else would be upset by this, but for Medvedev – it’s like water off a duck’s back.

But will Medvedev continue to tolerate this for long? For me, this isn’t even a question. Just like whether there will be a thaw under Medvedev isn’t even a question. There won’t be. Don’t hold your breath. Medvedev has been with Putin for 17 years. He could not have been unaware of all his thoughts and actions. He is clearly a person who is dependent with every fiber of his body and soul on Putin and his team. And it is obvious that this is not an independent person. To say the right words about legal nihilism in the country and corruption, about the need for an independent judiciary – this isn’t hard under the existing tradition of not backing one’s words with concrete action. The people have gotten used to this already. So go right on talking; nobody believes you anyway…

There is in Rus’ a saying: уходя – уходи… [If you’re leaving, leave—Trans.] This is when an uninvited and unwelcome guest, having sat in your house for four or even eight hours (or eight years…), says: Well, I guess I will be going now… Then, in another three-four hours, he once again repeats this phrase. And once again does not leave.

Same thing with Putin. He mumbled something about the sanctity of the Constitution (which he himself has violated many a time), made himself chairman of the government and… in effect, didn’t go away from the presidential post. He must really like it.

Nor will he leave. And no doubt all the politicians all over the world have understood this. That’s why they meet with Putin as with the president. That’s why they smile broadly at him. Of course, they already know just who Mr. Putin is. But the oil and gas that stand looming behind the back of this former lieutenant-colonel of the KGB force them to smile even more broadly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....he meets with a former head of state. Which Russian corp. ceo, liason officer, or what have you is up for grabs? Didn't G. Schroeder get some corner office on one? Is this going to be Putin's methodology: offer former heads of state cushy Rus. corp jobs as long as they do his bidding. If it is Putin's taken the lyrics to Rammstein's "Moscow" to heart.