Putin Bashing – by Stephen Lendman
On September 24, Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced he’ll run again for president in 2012 after serving eight years as Dmitry Medvedev’s Prime Minister.
America’s media have better memories than elephants. In November 2007, they recall Putin on National Unity Day telling military cadets and youth groups that while:
“an overwhelming majority of people in the world,” are friendly toward Russia, some “keep saying to this day that our nation should be split. Some believe that we are too lucky to possess so much natural wealth, which they say must be divided.”
In a thinly veiled reference to America, he added, “(t)hese people have lost their mind. (They) would like to build a unipolar world and rule over all mankind. Nothing of this kind has ever occurred in our planet’s history, and I don’t think it will ever happen.”
On August 1, 2011 Reuters headlined, “Putin says US is “parasite” on global economy,” saying:
Putin accused America “of living beyond its means ‘like a parasite’ on the global economy and said dollar dominance was a threat to the financial markets.”
If America is in “systemic malfunction,” he added, it affects everyone. Indeed so, and Putin is outspoken saying it.
A Lost Decade Under Yeltsin
Serving from July 1991 – December 31, 1999 as Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin was a political criminal.
During his tenure, 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt, 70,000 state factories closed, an epidemic of unemployment raged, half or more of all Russians became impoverished, a permanent underclass was created, and crime, suicides, mortality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS soared to intolerable levels.
Mandated “shock therapy” produced economic genocide. GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. Democratic freedoms died. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth at the expense of millions of harmed Russians.
Contemptuously ignoring essential needs, human rights and civil liberties, Yeltsin let corruption and criminality flourish. One scandal followed another. Money-laundering became sport. Many billions in stolen wealth were hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens.
He surrounded himself with like-minded apparachiks. He used his Russian Federation presidency to boost his own political power. Months later the Soviet Union dissolved.
Decisions were made behind closed doors, implemented without popular consent. Western imperialism backed them to exploit former Republics’ wealth, resources and people.
In August 1991, Yeltsin shelled, then disbanded parliament, killing hundreds in a barrage of tank fire on Moscow streets. Afterwards he imposed new constitutional authority, giving himself unlimited powers by stripping it from legislators. It was Yeltsin-style democracy, a mockery of the real thing.
His confrontations with parliament caused the October 1993 constitutional crisis when members tried removing him from office. Nonetheless, he kept power until resigning on December 31, 1999.
Commenting on him before his April 2007 death, Vitalii Tret’iakov, former editor-in-chief of Nezavisimaia Gazeta, wrote:
“(F)or the greater part of his presidency, Yeltsin slept, drank, was ill, relaxed, didn’t show his face before the people and simply did nothing.”
“Despised by the majority of (Russians, he’ll) go down in history as the first president of Russia, having corrupted (the country) to the breaking point, not by his virtues and or by his defects, but rather by his dullness, primitiveness, and unbridled power lust of a hooligan.”
Yet Western governments and media scoundrels hailed his democratic change. More accurately, he represented “free market” gangsterism, characterized by unprecedented levels of misery during his tenure.
Over a decade later, another generation may be needed to recover from the human wreckage he caused.
Western Media on Putin in 2012
On September 25, Russia Today (RT) speculated about what Russia under him again would mean. Britain’s Financial Times “believes that Putin’s presidential comeback could mar relations with Washington….”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told RT these “claims reveal that many Western politicians do not understand what is happening in Russia.”
“Many of the world’s press have descended into gloom, questioning the prospects for democracy and civil society in Russia” instead of focusing on erosions back home.
Observer newspaper editors suggested Russia might slip “from democracy back towards autocracy.” It already has in Britain where Cameron officials gave police the right to prevent far-right groups from marching through five London boroughs for 30 days.
Civil rights activists called it a dangerous precedent, letting police decide where or when free expression is permitted. Today it’s against “far-right” groups, tomorrow perhaps everyone very much the case more often in America.
Commenting on his 2012 plans, Wall Street Journal writers Richard Boudreaux. Alexander Kolyandr and Alan Cullison headlined, “Putin to Return to Presidency,” saying:
“Medvedev was widely seen as a seat warmer for his 58-year old mentor….”
Outspoken Putin critic Boris Nemtsov (former Deputy Prime Minister under Yeltsin) was quoted, saying:
“This is the worst scenario for Russia. We can expect migration, capital flight, dependence on natural resources and enormous corruption in politics.”
Corruption indeed remains a major problem, but Putin’s economic record was impressive. He transformed Russia from Yeltsin’s basket case to a magnet for foreign investment.
Moreover, living standards doubled. GDP rose 70%. Nearly all Russia’s foreign debt was repaid. About $402 billion in foreign currency reserves were accumulated.
In 2008 dollars, GDP grew from $200 billion in 1999 to $1.26 trillion in 2007. Russia rose from the world’s 20th largest economy to seventh ranked. Trade increased from 17% of GDP in 1990 to 48% in 2004.
The Journal writers also called Putin’s announcement “a likely setback for the Obama administration” that built good relations with Medvedev.
They cited David Kramer, executive director of the CIA-linked Freedom House, saying arms control and trade agreements will likely suffer because Congress is hostile to Putin, especially Republicans.
“The Russian strongman likes to hold up the West, and particularly the United States, as a threat. That will not help.”
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor struck a more positive note, saying he’s confident relations will stay positive and improve, “build(ing) on the progress” already made.
After discord during the Bush administration, Vice President Biden signaled a shift toward “cooperation and consultation” in a February 7, 2009 speech, adding:
The “last few years have seen a dangerous drift in relations between Russia and our (NATO allies). It’s time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should work together.”
Vietor said Washington’s “reset” policy remains unchanged, focusing on “national interests and not individual personalities.”
The Journal writers also quoted former Soviet dissident Gleb Pavlovsky, a Medvedev supporter saying, (i)t’s political suicide that he of course has a right to commit.”
National Bolshevik Party founder Eduard Limonov called Putin “better than Medvedev (as) a symbol of the enemy.”
On September 25, a Washington Post editorial headlined, “Russia’s corruptionism,” saying:
“Vladimir Putin decided that he would like to be president again, and so he will be. This may be good news for Dmitry Medvedev, the hapless incumbent whom Mr. Putin installed in the Kremlin in 2008….who had to pretend to lead while Mr. Putin ran the show….”
The broadside continued, saying it’s “bad news for” Obama who “invested heavily in his relationship with Mr. Medvedev, hoping he would emerge as a true leader.”
In other words, he hoped Medvedev would know who’s boss and obey instead of putting Russia’s interests first.
It’s also “bad news for Russia’s (neighbors like) Georgia and Ukraine,” two Western puppet states created by color revolutions.
“Most of all, it’s bad news for the Russian people, who face corruption and stagnation persisting perhaps – if Mr. Putin now seeks, like Stalin, to rule for life – as long as their president.”
Recent poll numbers, in fact, showed Putin’s popularity at 68%, down from 78% in 2010. George Bush left office reviled and disgraced at around 20%, and Obama now hovers around 40% or lower.
As for elections, America’s duopoly rigs them to make US-style democracy the best money can buy. Media scoundrels promote it. Popular interests are entirely left out. Rage against the system gets little or no coverage. Money power runs everything, including who holds high government posts.
WP, however, said:
“Mr. Putin has closed every avenue through which people might peacefully and legally select or even affect their government. Political parties are his plaything. Television networks are under state control. Demonstrations are banned or tightly circumscribed. The judiciary is cowed. In many ways, (he) recreated the Soviet system….”
In fact, this describes America, a money-controlled police state, a system of concentrated wealth and power, a nation permanently at war under a corrupted political duopoly.
Due process and judicial fairness died long ago. Its gulag is by far the world’s largest. Its leaders mock rule of law standards and democratic values. State-sponsored murder and torture are official policy.
Its media glorify its worst practices. They suppress vital truths. In contrast, Russia Today reaches 400 million viewers globally, presenting real news, information and analysis. So does Voice of Russia, reaching 110 million in 160 countries.
They reported days of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. They got no US coverage, including police arresting dozens of protesters raging peacefully against money-controlled power.
More people are urged to join them. They dare “to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality.”
America’s bankers, corporate giants, corrupted politicians, and media scoundrels want it their way.
The Washington Post said “(b)usiness and the state bec(ame) one” under Putin, “and favored apparatchiks gain(ed) enormous wealth.”
In fact, America’s corrupted corporatocracy benefits wealth and power at the expense of growing impoverished millions without jobs, homes they once owned, and futures no longer possible.
Russia is at peace with its neighbors. America wages multiple global wars. Its civil and human rights record is scandalous, its contempt for democratic values shocking. Its disdain for wrong over right on a global scale is unmatched.
It could use Putin/Medvedev-type leaders to dismantle what’s wrong and fix it.
Instead, the Post said Obama’s reset should push Russia toward “a more forthright expression of western interest in freedom.”
In fact, American “freedom” long ago eroded. It especially affects innocent political prisoners, wrongfully executed victims like Troy Anthony Davis, millions dead and injured by Pentagon bombs, missiles and shells, thousands perhaps killed by Special Forces death squads operating globally, and countless others harmed by Washington’s contempt for rule of law justice.
Turning that around perhaps only Superman can accomplish, not mere mortals no matter how committed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.