Russia's Mr Fix-it

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by bengalraider, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3,617
    Likes Received:
    2,013
    Location:
    in a fast food joint next to the imperial shipyard
    [​IMG]

    BY JULIA IOFFE | DECEMBER 4, 2009
    On Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeared in his eighth annual televised séance with the Russian public. More than 2 million questions poured in by phone, e-mail, or text message, and, for a record four hours, Putin fielded some 80 of them from Russians across the country. All told, it was an odd spectacle. For one thing, Putin looked uncharacteristically weary, as if he was tired of putting on his populist hat and hearing the umpteenth pensioner complaining about a bad apartment -- something he's normally very good at.

    It also made for a striking contrast with President Dmitry Medvedev's state of the nation address to the Russian political elite a month ago. Granted, it was for a different audience, but Medvedev, in calling for urgent modernization, struck a very negative tone: Russia was behind; Russia was backward; Russia needed to modernize or drown in the riptides of history. Stop whining, he said; start doing.

    Putin's address, on the other hand, resembled an extended episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. He kicked off by answering some T-ball questions from the anchors about how well Russia had weathered the financial crisis. "With a big dose of certainty, we can say that the peak of the crisis has been overcome," Putin said, to the anchors' seeming relief.

    And then to the mailbox. Even for what was obviously a scripted event, the range of questions was stunning. Once the weariness wore off, Putin covered everything from industrial accidents to Russia's lack of aeronautical engineers, the World Cup, legless veterans, pensions, birthday greetings, Stalin's legacy, the gaudy nouveaux riches, and Russian rap. (There was even what seemed like a surprise question on imprisoned Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which seemed to blindside Putin -- though he probably had to agree to have it asked -- before sending him into a controlled but apoplectic rage about contract killings and the Western bankers who, Putin claimed, brought about Yukos's bankruptcy.)

    The vast majority of questions, however, were highly specific and highly personal. My great aunt is a veteran of World War II; how come she can't get an apartment? I lost my husband in an industrial accident and was hired as a replacement; what if they fire me? My niece works at a day-care center and gets paid too little for the number of kids she supervises; how can she live on such a small salary? My pension finally went up; thank you very much, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

    In his answers to these requests, Putin sounded a bit like a genie. Someone writes in, "I am a diabetic but haven't been able to get free medicine for more than a year." Putin: "What region is this?" Irkutsk oblast, Angarsk. Putin: "We're going to see what's going on in Irkutsk oblast, and in Angarsk in particular. This I promise you." A caller brings Putin's attention to the poverty of an old woman living by the railroad tracks where the Nevsky Express train was blown up last week. Putin: "To her very modest pension -- I think just 4,500 rubles [$150] a month -- will be added an equal amount.... They will restore her home ... and look into the possibility of moving her closer to her relatives." A young man named Nikita studying aeronautical engineering volunteers to go build planes in the remote Russian Far East at the Sukhoi Superjet complex. Putin: "I support Nikita's choice, and if you're not against it, I will definitely talk to the CEO so that he can help you get over there."

    But there were more than 2 million requests, and about two-thirds were highly specific -- a daunting workload for even the most powerful of genies. More than that, though, the piling on of personal, domestic troubles underscored one of the fundamental things holding Russia back and one of the things Medvedev addressed in his state of the nation address: a lack of working institutions that address citizens' basic needs. To receive social services, solve a grievance, or even seek compensation for an injury in Russia, people normally work through personal connections or understandings, which is exactly why corruption is so firmly woven into the fabric of Russian life. There are simply no working institutions -- impersonal and effective -- that can do something better than a bribe can. And if you've exhausted all your options or didn't have many options to begin with, you turn to the top, to the traditional figure of the Tsar-Father to intercede with the wicked authorities -- or with wicked fate. Putin's annual performances as this mystical wand-waver, as crucial as they are to his image and his ratings, only perpetuate the very thing Medvedev is purportedly trying to fight.

    Another telling phenomenon was on display in Putin's TV appearance: Whenever possible, he blamed the regional governors. The woman whose niece doesn't make enough working in day care? "I think I understood correctly that you're from Krasnoyarsk," Putin said, acknowledging that the young woman's salary was impossible to live on. "Krasnoyarsk has a relatively young and energetic governor. He and I will absolutely discuss this problem. If this hasn't happened yet in Krasnoyarsk, it's about time it got started." This kind of ominous threat came down over and over again -- usually when Putin couldn't find a good answer -- and one could imagine governors across Russia gulping uneasily in front of their TVs.

    What it indicates, though, is not Putin's authoritarian aggression, but the fact that Russians no longer have any means of directly addressing their own officials. After Putin abolished the direct election of regional governors in 2004 in favor of their appointment by the Kremlin, it undid any sense of accountability to the electorate. Now the governors are responsible to the Kremlin, which, through venues like the Putin phone-a-thon, can then tell the governors what's going on under their very noses. "In the West, there's a sense of public opinion," says political observer and former cabinet member Evgeny Gontmakher. "There's the mass media, elections. Here it's all atrophied, and I guess you can see this as a kind of ersatz form of feedback." But, Gontmakher warns, the phone-a-thon is no substitute for a real discussion. "The people asking the questions can't respond to the answers they get. It's one-sided; it's rehearsed."

    And let's not forget the most important thing: In their appeals to Putin, the public seemed to forget that he was no longer president, and hasn't been for a while. Why wasn't Medvedev doing this?

    "This is Putin's trademark genre," says Gleb Pavlovsky, who chairs the Foundation for Effective Politics, a think tank linked closely to the Kremlin. "It was discovered early on, by accident, and it's the genre in which Putin feels most like himself and in which people most like to see him. And he needs to keep his audience."

    But the phone-a-thon was more than just about differences of style between the tech-savvy, übercorporate Medvedev and the hucksterish patriarch Putin. The four-hour slog came, incidentally, after Putin's approval rating sank to its lowest level since March. And, though he is still well ahead of Medvedev, Putin needs to make sure he doesn't disappear from popular consciousness.

    "In a certain sense, it's theater," Pavlovsky says, "but theater with colossal political consequences. If Putin loses his audience, the tandem would become unbalanced.... This is Putin's strategic weapon, that in a difficult situation he can turn to the country. This is his main strength, and this is why the apparatus is scared of him, because he still has that card."

    Mr. Fix-It | Foreign Policy
     
  2.  
  3. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3,617
    Likes Received:
    2,013
    Location:
    in a fast food joint next to the imperial shipyard
    Putin Reassures his Audience and Reduces Medvedev to Irrelevance


    Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 224December 7, 2009 05:38 PM Age: 3 days
    By: Pavel K. Baev
    [​IMG]
    Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin pictured on television during his annual talk show. (AFP/Getty)
    Vladimir Putin’s annual talk-show has set a new record as he kept answering questions from carefully selected “common” Russians for more than four hours last Thursday, habitually demonstrating a perfect grasp of innumerable social problems and generously delivering gifts. Direct coverage continued non-stop on both national television channels and radio, but Putin refrained from making any big news staying on the message of reassurance that “the peak of the crisis is past” and the residual “turbulence” would be overcome. The underlying aim of this political therapy is, however, not so much to dissuade the majority of the population from staging protests or taking any interest in politics, but rather to demonstrate that in the position of prime minister, he remains in charge of distributing money and so, to all intents and purposes, continues to function as the head of state (Vedomosti, ÏÎËÈÒ.ÐÓ, November 4).

    Putin very carefully avoided any contradictions with President Dmitry Medvedev asserting that relations in their “tandem” were good and based on “common principles,” which presumably would inform their decision about the 2012 presidential elections. Meanwhile, the “biggest mistake would be to adjust our current work based on the interests of future election campaigns.” This neutral statement cannot hide the fundamental divergence of Putin’s line on restoring the stability of the existing system and Medvedev’s argument about the imperative of modernization created by the “primitive economic structure and humiliating dependence on raw materials.” Even more striking is the difference between Medvedev’s invectives against widespread “paternalistic attitudes” and “the inveterate habit of relying on the government” compared to Putin’s unambiguous claim that only the government –and he personally– are able and ready to take care of all the dispossessed, unemployed and underpaid (Ãàçåòà.Ru — Ãëàâíûå íîâîñòè äíÿ, December 3). There is no doubt that this is exactly what the Russians want to hear, and if Medvedev boasted about receiving several thousand responses to his “Go, Russia!” article, Putin recorded more than two million calls and messages.

    Paternalism –even if false and deeply corrupt– easily wins over the discourse of innovation and responsibility, and Medvedev’s point that “living beyond our means is immoral, unwise and dangerous” is demonstratively disproven by Putin’s promise to increase pensions no matter what costs for the budget. The key issue with this triumphant paternalism is sustainability, and the Russian economy will probably allow it for another year or two providing that oil prices stay on the current plateau, although this horizon is uncomfortably close. Macro-economic indicators are open to interpretation, and Putin announced as “good news” that the GDP contraction would be only 8.5 percent against the previous estimate of 10 percent, while Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin found some $15 billion extra income in the current budget (NEWSru.com :: Ñàìûå áûñòðûå íîâîñòè. Ôîòî è âèäåî äíÿ. Ëåíòà íîâîñòåé â Ðîññèè è â ìèðå., December 2). However, the continuing decrease of investments in fixed assets, reaching 18 percent compared with October 2008, prompting experts to cut their best estimates of GDP growth in 2010 to just 1 percent (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 30).

    The only economic activity that has not been affected by recession is corruption, on which Putin did not say a word, and this “bureaucratic ransom” is certain to stifle any feeble growth that is generated by centrally-planned investments. Medvedev may argue at any length that corruption is caused by “excessive government presence in many significant aspects of economic and other social activities,” but every answer that Putin gave so confidently amounted to an expansion of this presence. This demonstrated control over setting the real economic and social agenda, which has no place for modernization “fantasies,” renders Medvedev’s efforts at building a coalition of “modernizers” futile because even the minority group in Russia, for whom the internet and not television is the main source of information, cannot fail to see who is the “decider.” One comment from this group briefly appeared on TV screens: “Putin should go, he is a failure as prime minister, but is he ready?” It was certainly not addressed directly, but Putin had an answer for those who expect his departure: “Don’t hold your breath” (Ezhednevny Zhurnal, December 4).

    One area that Medvedev has singled out as the launch pad for his modernization project is ensuring the independence of the courts, and it is exactly here that his attempt to make a difference has failed most plainly. If more incontrovertible evidence was needed, it appeared last week when two justices of the Constitutional Court –Anatoly Kononov and Vladimir Yaroslavtsev– were forced to resign for spelling out to media their “special opinions” about the domination of the executive power over the justice system (Kommersant, December 2). Putin did not neglect this area and elaborated on the case that is clearly of great personal importance for him –the plight of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He found it useful to remind his audience that “the money that was once stolen from the people” had been returned to “the least well-off citizens of the Russian Federation,” and accused Khodorkovsky of organizing five murders, including the woman who tried to protect her small business and the mayor of Nefteyugansk, who had “demanded that Yukos pay taxes.” This factually wrong, but emotionally charged, “response” amounts to a direct instruction to the court where a new case against Khodorkovsky is falling to pieces (Ekho Moskvy, December 4).

    Many commentators highlighted Putin’s supposedly meaningful point that he “will think about” the 2012 presidential elections, but his barely hidden readiness to reclaim the position of supreme authority may turn out to be not that significant. There was perhaps just one slip of the tongue in his smooth performance, when answering a question about his surprise appearance in a talk-show for teenagers he assured that it “had nothing to do with approval ratings because, thank God, we do not have any elections” (the official translation on his website edits out this candor). Putin obviously foresees no problem with reducing Medvedev to his natural position of an obliging junior partner, but he may underestimate the corrosive impact of his increasingly bitter criticism of bureaucratic predation that constitutes the very essence of Putinism. The two co-rulers are not merely addressing different audiences, but effectively canceling each other out, and that makes Russia progressively ungovernable on the eve of a new crisis spasm
     
  4. Quickgun Murugan

    Quickgun Murugan Regular Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2009
    Messages:
    778
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    USA
    Who is incharge in Russia? PM or the President? Like who calls the shots mainly?
     
  5. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    My understanding of Russia may be flawed, but here goes.

    Medvedev is the current President of Russia and he sets the policy goals.

    Putin is the current Prime Minister of Russia and former two-term Russian President and he oversees the daily operation of the Russian government.

    Their functions are different and akin to the chairman of the board and CEO positions in an American company.

    But I think you're asking the question of who is more powerful. This is a very sensitive subject.

    Technically, the position of the President of Russia is more powerful. The President can fire the Prime Minister for inadequate performance. See Washingtonpost.com: Citing Economy, Yeltsin Fires Premier

    However, Putin is not your average Prime Minister. Putin is the former two-term Russian President and he is very popular among the Russian people for rescuing their economy from the chaos of the Yeltsin years. While he was President, Putin embarked on a very popular policy of wresting control of Russian state assets back from the oligarchs. See The Real Reason Why Putin Arrested Yukos Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky: An eXile Classic - By Mark Ames - The eXiled In fact, Prime Minister Putin continues his popular attacks on the oligarchs. See BBC NEWS | Business | Putin publicly humiliates oligarch

    Putin is an incredibly powerful politician because, as a former KGB agent, he has the backing of the KGB/FSB. See How Putin and his ex-KGB pals took over Russia's economy. - Sep. 9, 2008 In contrast to Putin's institutional FSB support, Medvedev has no natural institution (i.e. societal group) of support.

    The bottom line is that the President of Russia can dismiss the Prime Minister. But when the Prime Minister is Putin, I wouldn't try it.
     
  6. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    Watch Putin put the screws to billionaire oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Public theater at its best and a great way to boost Putin's popularity. This happened a few months ago in June 2009.

    I don't live in Russia. However, after watching the video, I'm ready to vote for him.

    BBC NEWS | Business | Putin publicly humiliates oligarch

    It isn't just oligarchs that are scared to death of Putin. Here, look at the reaction of Georgian President Michael Saakashvili during the Georgian-Russian war.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49wOzZdWWYM
     
  7. jakojako777

    jakojako777 Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,957
    Likes Received:
    40



    I basically agree with your comments except for the tone you give to the serious subject

    And the way you depict Putin as Big Boss(so popular on the West not to call him Hitler but still...give hint)
    Putin is literally savior of Russia and merits respect that receives from Russian people!(unfortunately for the West)



    Putin is an incredibly powerful politician because, as a former KGB agent, he has the backing of the KGB/FSB.


    And this is NOT exactly true be cause Putin is powerful politician also be cause he has brought dignity back to Russian people from country that was
    almost destroyed
    (NOT only!) be cause of " chaos of the Yeltsin years"
    but be cause of SELL OUT of the Yeltsin years!

    Yeltsin was destroying Russia and oligarchs were just symptom of the cancer that was killing Russia

    That cancer was incarnated in WEST=USA,UK and other Yeltsin's"friends" who didn't have time to finish the job and completely destroy Russia!

    Some syndromes of that cancer are visible even today in Caucasus (that is where was planned to start complete destruction of Russia by financing Muslim "rebels")

    Of course that was CIA (expert organization for sponsoring Jihad !)

    Medvedev can not fire Putin be cause that was not part of the agreement
    when Putin has offered him job of the President !

    BTW they still represent SAME POWER LOBBY of different power structures like FSB, rich industrials, military industrial complex etc....


    .
     
  8. jakojako777

    jakojako777 Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,957
    Likes Received:
    40


    Putin obviously foresees no problem with reducing Medvedev to his natural position of an obliging junior partner



    What you and writer of this lousy article forgets is that Medevedev would never become President if Putin didn't put him there...
    So what if he is "junior" to Putin?!?

    Obama is also "junior" to Wall Street bankers who have put him in position of President!

    Medvedev can also try to conquer respect of Russian people like Putin did, nobody will stop him in doing that and becoming "senior"!


    Putin DESERVES his "senior" position and who really cares what this Western snakes think about him!

    Russia exists today only be cause of Putin and nobody else !


    That article is just usual anti Putin pile of rubbish!
    We will see is West will ever succeed to divide Medvedev and Putin.

    And if Putin becomes President in 2012 he will put many things in place just like he did before and lousy West will be very unhappy about it !




    .......................
     
  9. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    "What you and writer of this lousy article forgets is that Medevedev would never become President if Putin didn't put him there..."

    "Apart from that president has more power thn PM(Putin) but Putin has still more influence in reality" (Both quotes from posts by jakojako777)

    The point in discussing the relationship between Medvedev and Putin is that the relationship is very complex and delicate.

    It is true that Medvedev could not have become President of Russia without Putin's support. However, now that he is Russian President, Medvedev wants to be the big boss. But there is a giant obstacle in his way and that is Putin.

    Medvedev is more liberal and he wants to create an independent judiciary. Putin doesn't like that. Putin likes a judiciary that obeys him and the United Russia party. Medvedev wants to move the economy away from oil and gas. Putin doesn't like that either. Putin's friends control and operate the oil and gas companies. Putin wants to continue government support (i.e. subsidies and tax breaks) of big oil and gas companies.

    To truly achieve his vision for Russia, Medvedev has to remove Putin. Otherwise, except for some minor cosmetic changes, Russian society and economy will remain mostly unchanged.

    The important question is whether Medvedev, as the highest-ranked executive officer in the Russian government dares to exercise his constitutional power and dismiss Prime Minister Putin.

    I believe there are many reasons that Medvedev would have to be crazy to try and remove Putin.

    Reason #1: Putin is more popular than Medvedev among the Russian people.

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/putin-medvedev-enjoy-boost-in-popularity/391228.html

    "Putin's approval rating climbed 3 percentage points to 68 percent, its highest level in five weeks in a poll of 2,000 people taken on Saturday and Sunday. Medvedev's rating climbed four points to 58 percent, its highest level in a month.

    The poll came two days after Putin vowed to ruthlessly fight Islamist rebels in a four-hour televised call-in show with the Russian people. He also demanded tough measures be taken against those responsible for the Nevsky Express train bombing that killed 26 on Nov. 27."

    Reason #2: Putin is the more experienced politician. He had been president for 8 years and it shows. Notice Putin's tough-sounding vow to "ruthlessly fight Islamist rebels" and his "four-hour televised" conversation to maintain his connection with the Russian people. Putin's higher approval rating, compared to Medvedev, is not an accident.

    Reason #3: Putin has the support of the FSB. He is one of them. As a former KGB agent, Putin had spent most of his life being part of the KGB/FSB.

    Reason #4: Putin's cronies, the Siloviki, control most of the important positions in government and industry.

    Reason #5: Putin has the support of the United Russia party. Medvedev knows that United Russia supports Putin, instead of him. Acting on this frustration, Medvedev criticized United Russia recently.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2009/1124/p08s01-comv.html

    "A lawyer by training, he's come out swinging for rule of law, and he lectured United Russia – widely criticized for fraudulent regional elections in October – that it must learn to win elections honestly."

    In a showdown, if Medvedev tries to remove Putin, I believe most of the Russian people, police, and soldiers will choose Putin over Medvedev because of the five important reasons that were listed. In a street fight between a lawyer and a former KGB strongman, who would you pick to win?
     
  10. jakojako777

    jakojako777 Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,957
    Likes Received:
    40

    "now that he is Russian President, Medvedev wants to be the big boss"

    With HUGE all media help from the West to Medvedev in hopes and prayers that his (Medvedev's) ambition will make conflict between two of them!

    West is so supportive of Medevedev and using every occasion to spit on Putin!

    Medevedev must merit respect of the Russian people to become "big boss" and as for FSB Putin will be always better backed there... and Medvedev
    in liberal circles...

    Medvedev still has LOT of work to catch up on Putin and Western plans to by all means STOP Putin becoming President 2012 will not work !


    It is VERY SIMPLE equitation !

    Gorbachev has destroyed USSR = He was LOVED by the West!

    Yeltsin has destroyed USSR and Russia = He was even MORE LOVED by the West !

    Putin has SAVED Russia of total destruction= He is HATED by the West!


    Medvedev doesn't do as good job as Putin did for Russia = He is LIKED by the West!

    Conclusion - the more President is WORSE for the Russia the more he is LOVED by West !


    I say Putin is PERFECT President for Russia !

    .
     
  11. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    Putin did restore order and push the oligarchs out of government. After restoring the power of the presidency, I believe Russia is safe from the corrupting and weakening influences of greedy oligarchs.

    As someone who prefers liberal ideals and values, my personal preference is for Medvedev. However, I'm also a realist. Putin is in his prime. Medvedev won't have enough time to put his own people into place and build his own political power base.

    I want to try my hand at political prognostication. Whether Medvedev competes against Putin in 2012 or quietly accepts a political deal, I predict that Putin will become Russian President again in 2012. Always bet on the ruthless KGB agent.
     
  12. jakojako777

    jakojako777 Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,957
    Likes Received:
    40
    Ah that naughty "dictator" Putin!


    Whether Medvedev competes against Putin in 2012 or quietly accepts a political deal, I predict that Putin will become Russian President again in 2012. Always bet on the ruthless KGB agen


    actually it is very simple
    if the popularity of Putin stays far in front of Medvedev he will be candidate of that "power base", party, which is more or less the same lobby they represent
    both of them!
    (Communists give STRONG support to Medvedev and attack Putin though lol :) )
    And of course the most funny FAVORITE of the West is Kasparov and his Bolshevik (revolutionary!) party!:) West is sometime sooooo pathetic !
    Anything goes to compromise image of Putin..... even Kasparov and his red clowns!

    Russia still needs strong hand(Putin) be cause change of mentality from authoritarian regime takes time...
    And reformers of economy like Medvedev would be better as prime ministers much better than Putin in that job probably...

    Russia needs modernization and reforms in economy fight against corruption but also changes in mentality of the people in general..

    Medvedev is to soft it still takes man that will be ready to kick some butt if necessary!

    Of course the biggest problem for the West with Putoin is that he took away Russian oil and gas out of their hands...into Russian control !

    Ah that naughty "dictator" Putin!



    .
     
  13. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    I like your insights.

    The West prefers a compliant former lawyer that they can "manage," instead of a strong Tsar that stands up for Russian interests first and foremost. The West is angry that Putin canceled oil and gas concessions (i.e. Exxon and Shell in Sakhalin) and joint-ventures (i.e. TNK-BP) with foreign oil companies by appropriating and nationalizing those important raw natural resources.

    I believe the Communists are supporting Medvedev in the hopes of toppling Tsar Putin. They think it's easier to regain power and influence with Medvedev in charge. Both the West and Communists believe that Medvedev is a person that can be reasoned with. As we have seen in the video with oligarch Deripaska, Putin rules with an iron fist. I like the part where he says: "and don't forget to give me back my pen." The message is that you can't even take a pen from the Tsar.

    A quick comment about Kasparov. The grandmaster is out of his depth. Politics is not a level game of chess where both sides have roughly equal pieces and the players have to follow rules. Politics is a hard and dirty business where you win however that you can. The experienced politicians fight dirty. They'll stuff ballot boxes or buy votes to win. I'm afraid the famous and likable grandmaster has no chance in Russian politics.

    In conclusion, your important insights have helped to change my mind. I now believe that the most important reason that the West dislikes Putin is not because he's an authoritarian former KGB agent. The West hates Putin because he has regained Russian control of critical oil and gas assets and taken them out of Western hands. Through your eyes, I can see that "naughty dictator Putin" is indeed the best man for Russia. If reasonable and pliant Medvedev was in full control, the West would most likely regain a good measure of influence over Russian energy resources.
     
  14. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Messages:
    10,397
    Likes Received:
    2,313
    Like it matters which one runs Russia. They are both United Russia with the same political agenda. Energy diplomacy is the in the cards for both Putin and Medvedev. They both support South/Nord Stream and they both want limited Western stakes in Russian development. Their platforms are vitually identical except for Medvedev calling for less pull on the reigns, certainly the same in foreign policy. Putin is the only one with support of the people which is how he has any power over the oligarchs at all. Don't be confused, he still has to answer to them. Instead of the old guard of corrupt businessmen, he has just surrounded himself with a new one.
     
  15. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    You made very good points. However, we disagree on one key issue. I believe that Putin is the Tsar and the new oligarchs, like Oleg Deripaska, are clearly subordinate to the Tsar. The current oligarchs are kept outside of government.

    In contrast, during the Yeltsin years, the oligarchs held senior government positions and created laws and regulations that greatly enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people. The Yeltsin oligarchs, like Boris Berezovsky, were part of the government and they used the power of the government to increase their private wealth. Unlike the Putin era, the Yeltsin oligarchs had co-opted the government.

    Boris Berezovsky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "Berezovsky was at the height of his power in the later Yeltsin years, when he was deputy secretary of Russia's security council, a friend of Boris Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, and a member of the Yeltsin inner circle, or "family".[1]"
     
  16. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Messages:
    10,397
    Likes Received:
    2,313
    Putin certainly has more power than Yeltsin ever did. He made sure he eliminated those who stood in his way, like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and placed his picks in their place. But then you have to realise Putin is only one man. He has to get his power from somewhere and his base is United Russia. Without it, he cannot breath and without him, they would not be in power. It is a symbiotic relationship with each other scratching the others back with dirty deals. If Putin upsets the balance, he can be replaced now that the vote doesn't matter. That is why no one inside the party can actually combat corruption. To do so would see the end of their unity and the end of their derived power.
     
  17. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    That is very perceptive. The relationship between Putin and United Russia does look symbiotic. I had thought that United Russia was merely Putin's political construction and tool. Your argument that Putin is only one man and that United Russia represents the most powerful segment of Russian society is persuasive.

    If a man, even one as powerful as Putin, attempts to fight the most powerful representatives of Russian society (i.e. United Russia and/or FSB) then he will most surely lose. As you said, this also implies that it will be virtually impossible to eliminate the symbiotic relationship's "dirty deals." I find your argument convincing.

    Perhaps Putin isn't the next Joseph Stalin. It is possible that the era of almost absolute power has faded into the history books.
     
  18. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Messages:
    10,397
    Likes Received:
    2,313
    How can you combat it? The people have no will. Everything you say is monitered. The only way you used to be able to speak out was to blog. Now they have changed the site rankings where no one will ever see it. If you draw enough attention you get a meeting with FSB. Someone you know is likely to die in a senseless accident or form of violence. Your vote means nothing anymore as elections are rigged. You often go months without pay or end up on indefinite furlough. Your relatives on pension are starving if you dont' send them money. You can't drive to work without blowing a tire on a pothole every week. You are lucky if at some point you don't break an axel. Your military fails to finish anything it starts. How can you fix that when the people don't even believe it can be fixed?
     
  19. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
    It is surprising to me that the view from inside a country is almost completely different from my own perception. I was under the impression that life was better than ever because of Russia's oil windfall during the past decade. I guess statistics about a country only tell part of the story. Without the personal experiences of someone that actually lives in Russia, I thought things were going great from reading BusinessWeek articles.

    Russia: Spreading The Oil Wealth

    "Russia: Spreading The Oil Wealth
    Putin is vastly boosting social spending. Will that sidetrack economic reform?

    Is it a "new course" in Russia's economic policy? That's what Russian commentators are calling President Vladimir V. Putin's recent promise to spend at least $4 billion annually over the next few years to overhaul the country's neglected health and education systems and to provide subsidies for groups ranging from farmers and soldiers to aspiring young homeowners. Russia is the world's No. 2 oil producer. The President aims to use his windfall from soaring oil prices to boost the living standards of his people, especially low-income public employees. The risk is that Russia's oil wealth will distract Putin from finishing important reforms envisioned when he first took office in 2000."
     
  20. jakojako777

    jakojako777 Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,957
    Likes Received:
    40
    Well all in all your comments and observation are almost perfect!

     
  21. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    237
    Location:
    Boston
     

Share This Page