“Seeing as how my image is everywhere on television,
my appearance in the ring caused people to get somewhat disgruntled.
That’s completely possible and absolutely fine.”
Everything is just fine and dandy with Vladimir Putin these days: he’s got things under control and separate shortcomings are being fixed. If small business is forced to give kick backs (Dr Roshal had lamented about this), then, as Putin happily pointed out, they have something to pay them with. The people support him, and he will leave his post when he stops feeling the people’s support (typical solipsism, as they would say in Marxist times: the attempt to have your own feelings represent objective reality).
Who there was talking about a “new” Putin, a Putin who had changed? He’s not changing at all, just like the country he runs. He’s still a fantastic rhetorician, though he is always balancing on the edge letting his tongue slip, and he still sticks to the classic Soviet/KGB “besieged-fortress” philosophy. His perception for reality, with the exception of his trained ability to recall numbers that are given to him by the ministries and agencies and that he nonchalantly juggles, continues to fade more and more.
by Peter Sarukhanov (The Novaya Gazeta)
Here, for instance, is the presidential candidate’s impressions about the nature of the protest rally held on Bolotnaya Square that he was asked about, just as he was asked about many other things during the show’s more “democratic” format:
“To be honest, when I was watching it on television, I saw something on some of their chests (white ribbons – A.K.), and I cannot lie, it’s not appropriate, but still, I decided that this was to push the fight against AIDS. I concluded that they had hung contraceptives on their chests. Then I thought to myself, why would they do that, it doesn’t make sense. But then I looked closer, and it turns out they weren’t what I first thought.”
Putin, as we have known since the summer of 2008 when he bombed the country’s stock market with one single phrase, is a “doctor.” This could have to do with his personal attention given to sexuality issues. The users of Facebook – one of the means for mobilising civil activism and creating public opinion in the country, and not any orange revolution, as Putin still envisions it – reacted with lightning speed: the Internet was packed with images of Putin with condoms.
He still believes, despite Hillary Clinton’s helpless self-justifications, that civil protests are financed from abroad: “All our citizens need to be respected. There are, of course, people that have a Russian passport, but act in a foreign state’s interests and run on foreign money. We will try to find common ground with them too, but often this is hopeless and impossible. So what can you say then? You could say: Come over here, you Bandar Logs (monkeys).”
So by the looks of it, Rudyard Kipling’s characters will be those to attend the protest rally scheduled for 24 December on Prospekt Sakharova in Moscow. The national leader is going to stimulate the creativeness of the “creative class” (a phrase that Tina Kandelaki learned in Vladislav Surkov’s office and now uses with regularity).
The United State needs to get ready for a new geopolitical lay of the land: there cannot be any more illusions of any restart between the two countries: “People are tired of the dictatorship of one country;” “The US doesn’t need allies, it needs dependents.”
This new, rather unrestricted format of what used to be called a “call-in” only galvanised Putin, who feels pretty comfortable in the midst of a conflict. As Thomas Mann writes in his Doctor Faustus, “Twixt you and me, the study of harmony results in many a yawn, whereas I am immediately quickened by counterpoint” (the programme, incidentally, lasted four and a half hours, very much in the style of Fidel Castro). He also answered, for example, Senator John McCain, who compared Russia with Libya: “What he said wasn’t about me, but about Russia. Some want to push Russia into the corner, so that it doesn’t hinder them from ruling the world.” If you were to interpret this phrase as a psychotherapist, then it would turn out that Vladimir Putin associates himself from top to bottom with Russia by not making any contrasts between his own interests and the country’s interest.
Putin, as opposed to the political environment of micro-regulation-concerned obsequious political strategists who exist on tax-payer money, is in no way scared of political competition. He is willing to allow elections for the Federation Council, and even gubernatorial elections as well, although the president would retain the right to “filter” the choice of candidates for governor. Governors, nonetheless, in the regions where United Russia performed poorly have to take responsibility. Could that be why Irkutsk Governor Dmitry Mezentsev is has been coerced into forced labour as Putin’s “technical” opponent nominated by the East-Siberian railway workers? Putin is willing to liberalise the rules for registering parties, and is willing to agree with the idea, incidentally Novaya Gazeta’s, of installing web cameras at each electoral precinct (just like during the fires in the summer of 2010 when he demanded that he have monitors set up right in his office that show how the new housing construction is going for those who lost their homes during the fires).
This is in no way because he is such a big pusher of democracy. It’s because, on the one hand, it’s always good to head the process of democratic reforms yourself right before these very reforms take a crashing fall. On the other hand, Putin really is convinced that there isn’t any competition whatsoever that threatens him and sincerely believes that the people support him and that he himself is infallible. He recognised Mikhail Prokhorov as a fantastic and strong rival (which is a disservice to Prokhorov, whose reputation of a Kremlin-moulded oligarch presidential candidate will get even stronger.) He mentioned, like a father his own son, Dmitry Medvedev just once, who, the poor stiff, is battling it out with the European Union: “The president will show his worth, I know.”
There is nothing, however, in this system, which the so-called national leader himself already labelled “Putin’s Regime,” that he is seriously going to change. His slogan is “Work needs to be done carefully, carefully!” If one were to act in accordance with this slogan, then no reforms at all are possible. Putin, incidentally, let this be known very clearly himself: he always thinks that reforms can reflect on people’s frames of mind, and he, a man who has been solidly locked in place with his rating and is addicted to it like a drug addict, cannot let this happen.
Putin has already decided for Medvedev just how the new government will be shaped: strictly in line with the principle “Careful,” no personnel revolutions. Moreover, it’s already clear that Vice-Premier Aleksandr Zhukov and Presidential Administration Head Sergei Naryshkin are making the switch to the Duma on the backdrop of the exit of the legendary former Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov. The quiet, armchair Naryshkin has been delegated the post of Duma speaker, while taking his place is the God Father of the Nashi youth movement Vladislav Surkov.
Of course, Putin, as a responsible politician, is in no way, shape or form going to “draw the Russian nationalism card,” but he does advise that no one “egg on a Russian macho man.” So don’t provoke an essentially good guy, only one with a swastika on his sleeve and a tire jack in his hand…
Putin is so confident in his own abilities that he is prepared to make an act of unheard-of charity by stepping over himself and freeing Mikhail Khodorkovsky: “If he writes a letter asking for a pardon, then I will consider it, but first I need to become president.” Thus, he essentially confirmed rumours that have been going around for many months now that freeing Khodorkovsky could be the new/old president’s most important act that would knock out all of the cards from the hands of the West and the Russian opposition. True, there’s one nuance involved: the hostage himself of Putin’s system has to make the first, degrading step, and it’s completely obvious that he is not going to do this.
The father of the nation, after having held his now tenth call-in show, which resembles more a man talking TO you rather than WITH you, is willing to talk and to have political competition. At the same time, he knows for sure, “Once you let go…” He didn’t specify what shouldn’t be let go. What he most likely meant is the reins, which he seems to be holding on to tightly.