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Monday, February 18, 2008

Cowardly Putin, Hiding from the Truth

The Moscow Times, by far the most important English-language publication on Russia in the world, reports that it was denied the opportunity to ask President Putin a question at his last press conference. What a pathetic little coward he is.

GPlus Europe, a consulting agency that works for the Kremlin, contacted The Moscow Times last week with a question: Would a reporter like to ask President Vladimir Putin a question at his annual news conference?

A GPlus Europe official explained that he had been asked to put together a list of possible questions and, if The Moscow Times would send one, he would submit it to the Kremlin.

While we frown on the practice of prescreening questions, the opportunity to speak to Putin was too good to pass up. So we put our heads together and came up with this question: "Mr. President, what do you see as the biggest mistake you have made during your eight years in office?"

The GPlus Europe official liked it. "Good question," he said. We then sat back and wondered how Putin might answer.

Putin was accused of making a big mistake shortly after he assumed office -- when the Kursk nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000. Putin never accepted responsibility for the sinking or the botched rescue operation.

The Kursk was followed by a series of terrorist attacks -- Dubrovka, airplane bombings, Beslan -- and the Kremlin's heavy-handed response.

The West, however, might say Putin made his biggest mistake in rolling back democracy by canceling gubernatorial elections, making both houses of parliament subservient to the Kremlin and taking over major media outlets.

Political opponents might say Putin was wrong to implement legislation and take other measures that have left the country without an opposition.

Investors might point to the Yukos affair to raise concerns about the rule of law and property rights.

Putin no doubt would retort that these were not mistakes but deliberate, vital steps taken to rebuild the weakened Russia inherited from Boris Yeltsin.

In our opinion, Putin's biggest mistake was failing to stop the consolidation of power at the right time. While the consolidation did prevent regions from seceding and Russia from ultimately disintegrating, it went too far, making the country overly dependent on the will and abilities of a small group of people. In the absence of checks and balances and a thorough discussion of policy options, Russia's future now hinges on the president and his small inner circle. If Putin makes a mistake, the whole system could be destabilized.

Putin, who intends to become prime minister after he leaves office, must now resist the temptation to transfer presidential powers to the prime minister's office. Doing so would aggravate the mistake of overconsolidating power by personifying that power in one man -- Putin.

But what does Putin himself see as his biggest mistake? He has never admitted to making a mistake in eight years, and apparently he was not interested in starting Thursday. The Kremlin declined to take our question.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Clearly Russia's Czar Vladinator I does not admit to any mistakes because he hasn't made any. Our highly disciplined ex-KGB patriot works night and day to make sure he gets it right and never makes mistakes.

I want to post something here in LR which is losely related and actually part of a longer post that I first posted in the Russia Today thread pertaining to the recent political assassination of Georgian leader Badri Patarkatsishvili...

Clearly the current resurgence in hostilities between Russia and the West is not being driven by the Russians. The Anglo-American Empire is unsettled by how quickly Russia was able to reverse the declines Russia experienced as recently the 1990’s. Today Russia is resurgent, both politically and economically (and even militarily). On the one hand Russia has lost a sizable chunk of its former empire, but on the other hand Russia has now been freed from the enormous financial burden of subsidizing its former empire (for example, selling crude oil and natural gas to its former Warsaw Pact partners at 5-10 % of prevailing world market prices).

The recent NATO militarization of the border region between Russia and its former Warsaw Pact allies is a cause for concern. The introduction of whole new weapons systems which hitherto have not been seen in the region, such as the American “missile defense shield” poses a threat to the stability and security of the entire region. Russia has no desire to engage the Americans in a missile-for-missile and plane-for-plane arms race, and indeed Russia already signaled its desire to end the arms race back when Gorbachev was in power. But of course Russia must now take appropriate countermeasures to insure the continued viability of its strategic deterrent force. Thus Russia finds itself being very reluctantly prodded back into something like a new arms race, at the instigation of the Anglo-American lead NATO, and its new cohorts in Eastern Europe.

Of course the recent hysterical vilification of the Russian government has nothing to do with some disinterested desire by the West to “promote democracy” as a universal social value, and it has everything to with continuing the game of geo-political world domination. The Anglo-American axis does not want democracy in Russia as and end, but rather as a means. The end is to finish the destruction of Russia which began with the breakup of the USSR.

The Anglo-American Empire is happy as pie to do business with authoritarian regimes and even outright dictatorships, which make Russia, look mild by comparison. Indeed the Anglo-American axis has installed such regimes in most places in the world where they have existed (Saudi Royal family, president-for-life of Egypt, president-general of Pakistan, Shaw of Iran, King of Jordan, umpteen Latin American dictatorships, and this list goes on and on…)

American and British intelligence and security agencies are tireless in their efforts infiltrate Russia’s weak and unstable democratic institutions, for the purpose of undermining and controlling those institutions from within. In this purpose they are aided by a host of Western “non-governmental organizations,” which largely serve these Western geopolitical purposes. They are also aided by well-meaning but naive Russians, who have become infatuated by all things Western, and fundamentally fail to grasp the existential threat that Russia faces from its historical enemies (and even worse, by those Russians who do understand this threat and consciously aid and abet it).

Russia desires a transition both to democracy and a market-driven economy. But this choice was made by the Russian leadership itself, and it is not something that was “imposed” upon Russia from the outside. Russia will proceed with the transition as fast as possible, but at its own pace. Certainly the constant foreign efforts to meddle in Russia’s political process to not enable the speeding up of the process of transformation, but rather the slowing down of the process.

Russia is a sovereign country and Russia has both the means and the will to defend itself and its interests. Russia’s twice-elected president Vladimir Putin has proposed “Sovereign Democracy” as the model that best suits Russia. This is a model for expanding Russia’s democratic institutions, but protecting and guarding those infant institutions against undo foreign influence, before they have time to mature and stand on their own feet. While the idea of Sovereign Democracy has been ridiculed by some in the West, it is worth noting that President Putin’s approval rating with citizens of the Russian Federation consistently stands at 75-80 percent.

Russia certainly has powerful, well-financed and sophisticated enemies, but Russia does not have the benefit of 200 years of stable democratic institutions. Rather those institutions need to be created in Russia from whole cloth. This democracy-building project in Russia is fundamentally a Russian project and one that Russians are capable of managing themselves, without the sugar-coated “assistance” of Russia’s sworn historical adversaries.

It is clear to Russia’s security agencies that the main purpose for Western interference in Russia’s democratic process is not merely some disinterested desire to “promote democracy,” as an abstract concept having value in and of itself. The West, and especially the Anglo-American center of gravity in the West, has shown time and again a willingness to get into bed with the devil himself, when it suits their strategic and geopolitical interests. Russia is not so naive as to take anything they say at face value.

Russia most definitely does not want this “new” confrontation with the West that is now being forced upon Russia. Rather Russia desires an expansion of peaceful trade relations with her neighbors and with the west in general. Indeed such a peaceful expansion is a vital Russian national interest, as the Russian leadership realizes fully well.

It is time for the West to come back to its senses and back to basic sanity, in terms of deescalating the growing tensions between the west and Russia and to get our mutual relations back on the right track again.