«Who is Mr. Putin?»
Before 2003, it was a man making quite a liberal economic policy; he really could have created a great Russia. And he even could have taken Gazprom to become his own property. No one would have made a mess about that.
It turned out that this man had one fault. A former security service officer, he preferred reigning with the use of special tricks. Not that he often was a subject to tricking. On the contrary, the President is smart enough to realize people around him are intriguing against one another. But when you rule the country using the tricking system, soon or late you’ll find yourself to have been a subject to tricking too.
It’s not that Putin trusted too much his law enforcers. By the way, few remember that the petroleum raid by the law enforcement top brass started not with YUKOS. It started with Slavneft, but that time Slavneft came to Abramovich not because it had been promised to him, but because Putin got the measure of all those people liking to “save” the president from plots and to decide instead of him whether Abramovich must be destroyed.
It happened that people Putin encircled himself with could not do business and did not know how to govern the country. They only knew how to expose “enemies”. And if there were no real enemies, they were to be made up. Considering their failure with Slavneft, the law enforcers prepared for YUKOS case in a much more proper way.
Putin had been receiving numerous reports on Khodorkovsky wanting to get his presidential office, financing communists, arranging with Condoleezza Rice the issues of nuclear disarmament of Russia, and calling Putin to be a “yellow warm”.
And then it turned out to be possible to tell to Putin about other people calling them “enemies”, which made it easy dealing with “undesired people”. It was easy to tell to Putin that Kasyanov wanted to get his office, and Kasyanov was made to retire. Alleging that Gutseriev financed the Ingush Islamist fighters helped making an attack on Russneft. And sometimes it doesn’t even take telling anything to Putin. Just mentioning that it was “ordered” by Putin may do.
They say, it took Putin four years to adjust the state for himself. Wouldn’t it be more precise to say it’s top ranking law enforcers who have made Putin their hostage? The man looking at whom Merkel and Bush get petrified, the man at whom the business became the prey to any shoulder-stripped jackal, the man whose entourage are people destroying the enemies for him. Exchanging Russia for Gunvor Company is equal to selling one’s birthright.
Saying that I do not want to excuse Putin. I think it to be much more insulting being a hostage to one’s own grovellers, than being a Stalin to oneself.
At the beginning of his office the president did few mistakes, but he never admitted them. Every time it was about “scheming by enemies”, and not about his own mistakes. YUKOS? That was no mistake; that was destroying a personal enemy. Losing elections in Ukraine? It was not the president behaving foolishly; it was the USA playing dirty tricks. Beslan? It was not about generals losing their mind and conscience; it was done by those who think Russia still to be a threat for someone.
The right for committing a crime has become a part of privileges granted to the official. The state has become an instrument for satisfying needs of any of its public servants - from president to district police officer. Well, the needs are rather primitive: oil, impunity, and praising.
The worse reality got, the more colorful was the picture shown by television. While the Putin’s elite was having good time in Courchevel and was buying up the London’s mansions, the despised by it hoi polloi were told about our enemies on the West. We dropped our unexploded missiles on the Georgian territory and we besieged the Estonian embassy with the force of Nashi movement – all that was presented by our television as revival of the “strong Russia”. The price of that “show” made up by “Nashi” became clear only when Estonia refused Russia’s right of laying the north-European pipeline on its sea bottom. Only after that “Nashi” were held back a bit.
“Power” has been the key word. It appears that the man, who turned his plane back near Beslan, has a big need of pretending to be strong. Hence, the flights on strategic bombers and shooting the video with the naked trunk.
We were suggested that we needed a “strong arm”. But is it really strong arm that governed us?
When a son of defense minister knocks down an old woman when driving his car and the father says his son “suffered moral and physical damage” – is it strong arm? When the president orders to leave alone the Domodedovo airport or Volgotanker Company, and they are nonetheless continued to be transformed – is this strong arm? Or when the president gives the boot to FSB generals, and they just don’t leave, and then six months later a shy major asks at the meeting “Comrade President! You have dismissed some generals and they still keep their offices. Must we execute their orders or not?” – is all that strong arm? The strength of power is measured with the number of executed orders, and not with the number of sycophants.
You know, Sochi seems to be the most characteristic symbol of the epoch to me.
President Putin likes skiing, and so Sochi became the third capital of Russia. All the guests, even the most unpleasant ones, are received in the President’s residence in Sochi. It’s from Sochi that Putin was flying from to Nalchik when Beslan tragedy began (and he just turned back and went to Moscow). It’s from Sochi that he came from just for one day to have a meeting with Beslan’s mothers and returned there again.
Peter the Tsar moved the capital to St Petersburg to get the access to Europe. President Putin added Sochi to the list of Russian capitals, the place where one may have a ski and have a swim just during one day. Sochi and oil, what else is to be desired in this life!