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tennisbum79
Mar 9th, 2012, 01:08 PM
Why isn't he treated the same way as other dictators?

Answer: He holds election, but makes sure no one else has chance to win, having put all the power on his side.





The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen



http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Observer/Pix/pictures/2012/2/24/1330125475757/President-Vladimir-Putin--007.jpg
Then President Vladimir Putin at a 2007 summit in the Russian spa town of Volhzsky Utes.
Photograph: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images




In an article for the website slon.ru, Alexander Baunov recently recalled an old Soviet joke about a dissident arrested for handing out blank pieces of paper on a city square. Asked why there's nothing written on the leaflets, he says: "Why bother? Everyone knows everything."




In today's Russia (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/russia), what is it, exactly, that everyone knows? When protesters denounce Vladimir Putin (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/vladimir-putin)'s puppet political party, United Russia, as "the party of crooks and thieves (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/05/millions-russians-elections-vote-against)", who is it they're thinking of? For sure, they're addressing the mass of office holders and contractors feeding from the bribe-taking, deal-skimming, nepotistic money machine the Russian state has become. But who, in the party of crooks and thieves, is the chief thief?


The Russian protesters think they know. As a service to the rest of us, Masha Gessen makes their belief (which she shares) quite clear. It is one V Putin, prime minister of the Russian Federation, president of the country from the turn of the millennium to 2008, and likely winner of the presidential election on 4 March, which would give him six more years as head of state.


Russian government officials don't pretend the state isn't rotten; sometimes their cynical acceptance can be breathtaking. In an interview in El País in October, Viktor Cherkesov, one of the ex-KGB goons from St Petersburg whom Putin brought to power, described the attitude of the man who was, until recently, his close associate. "Putin doesn't pay much attention to theft, because he reckons everyone steals," he said.


But Gessen's clear, brave book (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/data/book/history/9781847081490/the-man-without-a-face-the-unlikely-rise-of-vladimir-putin) makes a strong case that Putin is not merely turning a blind eye to embezzlement and skimming. He is, she asserts, an arch-practitioner. Gessen tracks down Marina Salye, one of the leaders of the democracy movement in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) in the last years of the Soviet Union. Salye was a witness to the still-mysterious rise of Putin, in less than a decade, from low-ranking KGB nonentity to Kremlin master; she now lives in self-imposed internal exile in a near-dead village in the far Russian boondocks, afraid she knows too much.


Salye investigated Putin's work as head of the committee for external relations in the office of the Leningrad mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, just before and after the 1991 coup that precipitated the USSR's collapse. In those days Moscow, lacking money to support the basic functions of society, handed out chits to local authorities that gave them the power to grant export licences. The idea was that licensed Russian firms would export raw materials – oil, nickel, diamonds – in exchange for food and medicine, or the money to buy them.


According to Salye, Putin signed off on a billion dollars' worth of export licences. Less than one-tenth of that, $92m, was documented; although Putin was a trained lawyer, the contracts were legally invalid, the exporting firms were hand-picked by him, the commissions they earned averaged more than a third of the value of the contracts, and none of the food arrived. As for the other $900m, it simply disappeared. Salye recommended Putin's dismissal and a criminal investigation, but nothing happened and, six years later, she fled to the mud and silence of the deep Russian countryside in the face of a threat so terrifying that she refuses to tell Gessen what it was.


As editor of the Russian magazine Snob, Gessen was one of the first to report the allegations of the businessman Sergei Kolesnikov that Putin had personal control of a nested set of Swiss companies, funded by millions of dollars creamed off charitable donations to buy medical equipment, which he was using to build an estate on the Black Sea coast. Pictures of the main building (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putin%27s_Palace)published recently show a neo-baroque palace replete with ornate gold mouldings and bad paintings of hunting scenes.


Wondering how this squares with contradictory testimony of moments where Putin flaunts his honesty, Gessen recalls the bizarre moment in 2005 when Putin tried on a 124-diamond Super Bowl ring belonging to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and then literally pocketed it (http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2005/06/29/for_putin_its_a_gem_of_a_cultural_exchange/). Perhaps, Gessen speculates, the Russian prime minister suffers not so much from kleptomania as pleonexia, "the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others… He compensates for his compulsion by creating the identity of an honest and incorruptible civil servant."


Of the three characteristics of the Putin years – pilfering, pettiness and poison – it is the last which stands out for the west. The assassination body count in general is high, and can't be tied directly to Putin. When poison replaces bullets, the suspicion of state involvement becomes higher. The dissident journalist Anna Politkovskaya was poisoned (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/09/russia.media) before she was shot dead (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/20/anna-politkovskaya-russia) (on Putin's birthday); the candidate Moscow wanted to lose Ukraine's 2004 election was poisoned with dioxin; Yuri Shchekochikhin, the liberal MP and investigative journalist, was poisoned and died; Gessen suggests that the death of Anatoly Sobchak may also have been poison.


With the case of a defector from the Russian secret service murdered on foreign soil, using an isotope of a radioactive metal called polonium only produced in tightly controlled conditions in Russian state factories, Gessen argues there is no room for doubt: Putin, she says, must have personally sanctioned the poisoning in London of Alexander Litvinenko.


All this, incidentally, underlines the courage of Masha Gessen, born in the Soviet Union, emigrating with her family to the US when she was 14, and now raising a family of her own in Moscow. But both her book and the tenor of reports from Russia over the past years suggest that if Putin's power is challenged it will not be because his enemies die mysterious deaths but because the scale of the plundering he has enabled becomes intolerable.


In English, "crooks and thieves" sound like synonyms. In Russian, there's a subtle opposition. The word for thief, vor, represents someone ruthless, strong, fair to those who don't cross him, personally generous, even patriotic, a muscular, wise, tattooed king of the underworld – a made man, the villain who's a diamond geezer. In the prison camps of the Stalin era, Putin's secret police predecessors worked with the criminal inmates, the community of thieves, to keep the political prisoners, the intellectuals, in check.


It's that image of the street-fighting, motherland-loving tough guy that Putin cultivates, and Gessen offers intriguing details of the scratching, biting, hair-tearing, undersized, brawling boy Putin, refusing to be bullied in the grubby back yards of Leningrad, nursing grievances. He remains proud of his youthful violence – he often picked fights in the street as a young KGB officer – and it's that yearning for noble vor-like toughness that unites his obsession with posing stripped to the waist in PR shots with his penchant for public displays of scatological menace – threatening to "wipe terrorists out in the toilet" or to have a French journalist castrated.


The other word, zhulik, usually translated as "crook", is quite different: the zhulik is mean, treacherous, a cheat, a sneaky hooligan, a small-time rip-off merchant of primitive appetites without loyalties or wisdom. Nobody, not even a vor proud of his vorness, wants to be called a zhulik. As Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Silvio Berlusconi and many others have found, the perceptive transition can be sudden and politically fatal. The man on the Volgograd trolleybus might support a tough, patriotic vor long after the liberals of Moscow had marched against him, but not a shifty, swindling zhulik only out for himself.



Source:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/feb/26/vladimir-putin-masha-gessen-review

bulava
Mar 10th, 2012, 07:41 AM
Why isn't he treated the same way as other dictators?

Answer: He holds election, but makes sure no one else has chance to win, having put all the power on his side.
Nyet. Answer is, he ain't a Dictator.

Mostly it's propaganda crap. I mean, if any leader stands in protecting his/her own country's integrity, interest and glory that doesn't mean he or she is a dictator. Surely that goes against a group Western nations, I get that. Russia and China are like that and they've to considering their history and the transitions. What I don't understand is, why no one (namely the US) raises a big deal of Democracy about the latter? I mean, in that country there are no elections at all compared to Russia. Why? Because they are scared of Chinese :eek:

tennisbum79
Mar 10th, 2012, 12:42 PM
Nyet. Answer is, he ain't a Dictator.

Mostly it's propaganda crap. I mean, if any leader stands in protecting his/her own country's integrity, interest and glory that doesn't mean he or she is a dictator. Surely that goes against a group Western nations, I get that. Russia and China are like that and they've to considering their history and the transitions. What I don't understand is, why no one (namely the US) raises a big deal of Democracy about the latter? I mean, in that country there are no elections at all compared to Russia. Why? Because they are scared of Chinese :eek:
You have not been fallowing the news, yes both US politicians and civil society has been raising criticism of China for a long time.
Civil society routinely criticized China on human rights, deplorable working conditions of in its factories, some of which make goods for US companies.
Thhe political class incessantly and some in business world have raised question about China's unfair trade practices, lack of intellectual property protection.


I don't think you have read the situation carefully, outright dismissing this book as "propaganda crap" is a gross simplification of what is going on in Russia... or maybe, just maybe, because the criticisms come from the West, they must not be valid.

By reading the article, you probably discover the book was written by a Russian woman.

bulava
Mar 10th, 2012, 06:56 PM
You have not been fallowing the news, yes both US politicians and civil society has been raising criticism of China for a long time.
Not really, I keep a tab on those nations since 1981 (school kid age, won loads of GK and Chess prizes). What I meant was it's not about criticism, but daring an attempt to export Democracy into that nation through various means like they tried/trying with Russia. I hope I made it clear now.


Civil society routinely criticized China on human rights, deplorable working conditions of in its factories, some of which make goods for US companies.
First, many of those nations who criticize China from HR perspective would loose the steam soon because China is very much into drafting the whole new Human Rights policy, so it's just a matter of time...mean it could be too late or something like saying: "The One That Got Away" :confused:

Second, I get your concern very much. Well, why doesn't American and European MNCs stop funding into China's manufacturing plants? How it all got started in the first place? Also, yellow media is very selective by cherry-picking mainly Apple just because it happens to be the world's largest Technology company. Fact is, there are dozens BIG companies who get their products shipped out; Foxconn is shredded mostly as Apple company (different type of propaganda crap!). Truth is, China is not the only one which exploits human labor! Did you know many western countries do it? :tape:

Thhe political class incessantly and some in business world have raised question about China's unfair trade practices, lack of intellectual property protection.
Unfair trade practices are common with big powers (mainly to protect its market, jobs etc) so China is not alone here (not touching cheating, stealing and other nefarious activities which big nations did/do - Industrial/Military espionage). Examples, the US FDA always has problems (punitive charges, bans etc) with our innovation in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare exports. Same within our IT sector in the name of jobs (politics). Aren't they unfair trade practices? So why it doesn't matter in case of the US or Europe but it matters in case of China or India?


I don't think you have read the situation carefully, outright dismissing this book as "propaganda crap" is a gross simplification of what is going on in Russia... or maybe, just maybe, because the criticisms come from the West, they must not be valid.
What Book? The biggest propaganda crap was the WMD thing, and eventually got into another disastrous War (ended up damaging its own Economy!). I'm not going t dwell into it because I could be misconstrued. I chose to use those words because of that source website, many of them are actively involved in anti-Russia crap because they simply can't stomach Russia's progress and growth in the Europe. Or be it in case of China or India.

This could be little offline. People should realize how propaganda is really so bad and harmful to a country's image. I met a group of Europeans who visited my company on some business. Since I'm a racing lover, I told that India is not really new to Formula 1 racing (referring to 2011 F1 debut). Next moment, some started laughing (positively) and acknowledged that they learned (so wrongly) about India through their Newspapers/Channels like BBC as if it's really full of black people, cows, carts, dogs, snake charmers, dung and what not! Still, they asked what am I talking about? I showed this, they understood quite clearly:

http://i937.photobucket.com/albums/ad217/bulava_borei/etc/F1Indiaroots1.jpg


By reading the article, you probably discover the book was written by a Russian woman.
Actually, I read that article on Moscow Times or some other Russian site a few days ago :) See, I'm not saying he's 100% pure or has gold heart. Point is, the timing of such articles/reports/books makes any case highly questionable in the first place. IMO, he's much better than many of the present global leaders (remember why he was the TIME Man of the Year?).