This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Portrait of a Confident, Self-Contained Autocrat

"Putin’s views and policies align with Russia’s centuries-long perception that it has always been betrayed by the West. Russian tyrants have sought unchallenged power stemming from an inferiority complex and messianic vision of Russia as a nation unlike others. A Good Tsar can keep the country safe from those who would take advantage of its weaknesses. In such a state of constant fear of betrayal, Russia requires a powerful leader to ensure the maintenance of nationhood and vigilance. Real democracy is a threat. Indeed, Putin foments chaos overseas and invents stories of foreign danger, in turn selling himself as a strong leader who can protect his country from outsiders. The population is willing to trade transparency, political involvement and leaders who pilfer from the nation’s coffers in exchange for stability and safety."
"But despite appropriating the symbols of Russian mythology, Putin is not a classic Russian ruler. He is something new. He is a fabrication. He is playing a role. He is KGB through and through. His policies and public actions are contrived to brand himself as a tsar in order to better consolidate and hold power. His effort to adopt the mantle of an all-powerful leader of a mythical 1,000-year Russian state is nothing but a conscious and cynical effort to maintain his hold on power. Like despots the world over, he fears his people. He knows that he can no longer count on a booming economy and rise in the standard of living to ensure their support, and instead, he has clutched onto blood-and-soil nationalism."
John Sipher, Financial Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 17, 2015. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 17, 2015. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AFP/Getty Images)
He was not to the manor born. But he conscientiously and assiduously groomed himself to the manner he was not born with, but achieved, despite having been raised in poverty to working class parents. A start in life that will never leave his consciousness. Not that he could blame his factory-worker parents when he was born in 1952 in Leningrad. Too late to recall the 900-day siege of Nazi Germany during the Second World War, but he would be intimately aware of the suffering the city, now St.Petersburg, persisted through.

Poverty is a degrading condition and he can recall the communal apartment with a toilet accessed down a long hallway shared by many families. By his own account, his boyhood was distinguished by his "hooligan" activities. His aggressive tendencies were channelled toward becoming adept in the martial arts, his favourite sport pursued well into middle age. No doubt he felt that kind of physical discipline would aid him in the future when he planned to seek out his destiny as a professional intelligence agent with the KGB. On graduation from the law faculty of Leningrad University in 1975 he did just that.

Working in counter-iuntelligence where he monitored foreigners in Leningrad, he earned his beginner's stripes, then moved on to a post in Dresden where the KGB worked with the East German Stasi, Ministry for State Security, ensuring that the East would remain clasped in the bosom of the USSR, a captured satellite, post WWII. His return from Leningrad saw his resignation from the KGB which had backed the abortive coup attempt to dislodge Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who had famously derailed the Soviet Union, but perhaps not intentionally, aiming only for more openness and partial integration with the West.

Putin had achieved a high degree of success, but not visibility, when he was head of the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB. But it was when the hapless, jolly-drunk Russian President Boris Yeltsin mysteriously chose an unknown Vladimir Putin as one of his succession of prime ministers that the man's future began to unfold in earnest. Once Yeltsin resigned, Putin fortuitously became acting president and immediately issued his formula to guide Russia into the future: "I want to warn that any attempts to go beyond Russian law ... will be decisively repressed." 

Russian law, formally instituted, or casually implemented by this man has been decisively made his own. The macho image of another Russian leader was revealed, an image applauded by most Russians who like their leaders emphatically tough and resolutely rough. Vladimir Putin invented and re-invented himself, first as a leader who would turn the nation back to Soviet-style communism, then as the leader who would sculpt the country into a cohesive whole of nationalist pride and reliance on their leader to maintain stability, build the economy, restore pride and defeat outside interference in Russia's affairs.

He played musical chairs with the constitution which forbade more than two turns at the presidency when he and Dmitry Medvedev cooperated between themselves for the greater good of bypassing the law, exchanging the presidency for the prime ministerial position while continuing to lead from that position, only to switch back again after serving the separating term to once again attain the presidency, but only after Medvedev succeeded in altering the constitution in his boss's interests, at Putin's behest.

Tangling with and taming the Chechen menace, sending his military into Ukraine and restoring the Crimea to Russian possession, Russia's adored strongman has an 80% approval rating among Russian voters; not, perhaps in Moscow, but in the great outer reaches of the country with the largest geographical reach in the world. Lucky Russia, their redoubtable president has showered his admirers with the good news he intends to run again for the presidency. In so doing, Russia will continue its defiance of international normatives and sinister reactions to political criticism, with full Kremlin support.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet