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“Common Murderer, Ordinary Thug”: Putin Is Trying To Reconstruct The Russian Empire

After the bloody suppression of a patriotic demonstration in Warsaw in 1861, Alexander Herzen wrote to Tsar Alexander II: “You have become a common murderer, an ordinary thug.” He also described the Russian press as “shameless” and “unscrupulous.”

Today, we should repeat the words of this great Russian, and direct them at Vladimir Putin and Russian propaganda-men who are lying ceaselessly and insolently. A while ago, we heard that Poland trained Ukrainian fascist squads that terrorized the Maidan; next we learned that Putinist conquerors of the Crimea bought their weapons and uniforms in stores and that the Kremlin had nothing to do with it. Now we are once again hearing about the Ukrainian state’s responsibility.

The 298 wretched victims of the crash of the Malaysia Air flight are a result of Putin’s ruthless and cynical policies. It was his decision to arm the so-called separatists who in reality are the Kremlin’s spy network and fifth column in the Donbass region. They were armed with Putin’s knowledge and approval. And these people are the ones who killed random, innocent individuals.

Putinwith his KGB lieutenant-colonel mentalitydoes not want to let Ukraine follow its own path toward democracy and Europe. He wants to reconstruct the empire. Inciting and upholding ethnic conflicts in Latvia and Estonia serves this aim, as does the creeping dismantling of Moldova, and maintenance of conflicts around Upper Karabakh. Indeedthis great power, great Russian chauvinism is the final and highest stage of communism. And Putin understands progress as gradual annexation of successive states.

The European Unionaccustomed to peace and quiethas neither determination nor an understanding of the growing threat. The clichéd faith in the possibility of placating the beast is replaying over and over again. The blindness and loyalty of European political and business elites gives reason for concern. But there is nothing that releases usintellectuals active in culture, scholarship, and mediafrom the duty to say clearly, stubbornly, and emphatically: This is very dangerous. We are not allowed to repeat the naiveté once displayed by intellectual elites toward Hitler and Stalin. And back then we were not allowed to close our eyes to the annexation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic States.

My friend from Moscow says that there are two scenarios in which the Russian army will leave Ukraine: One realistic and the other miraculous. In the realistic scenario, Saint George will ride in on a dragon and use his fiery sword to chase this band of scoundrels away. That’s the realistic scenario. And the miraculous one? They’ll just up and leave on their own.

The policy of successive concessions leads nowhere. Putin is not a European-style politician; he’s a politician of permanent belligerence. Much seems to suggest that he has already let the genie out of the bottlecrowds of mercenaries are moving from Russia to Ukraine, crowds of sentimental monarchists, Orthodox fascists, National-Bolsheviks, and the like. Arming these bandits with first-class weapons is simply criminal. It is a good thing that Poland’s current government has taken an honest and judicious stanceit’s not flexing its muscles but it’s also not succumbing to illusions or hypocrisy.

 

By: Adam Michnik, Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, where this piece originally appeared; The Huffington Post, July 21, 2014

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Whether He Knows It Or Not”: Edward Snowden Is A Political Prisoner In Russia And Putin Won’t Let Him Go

Just in case you’re curious, or for that matter to confirm your worst suspicions, there was no way that the Russians (and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin) were about to allow perhaps their greatest intelligence windfall in history – that being NSA leaker Edward Snowden – to slip through their fingers.

So they didn’t allow it, and they won’t.

Instead, Putin gave Snowden “temporary asylum” in Russia or some other such nonsense status – and a “job,” to keep him there. Will they exploit him? Sure, and my guess is that he won’t be able to leave until they get all he knows, one way or another.

In other words, the “cover story” they put out for Snowden will change, if necessary, to be whatever it has to be until they get everything he has – or knows – about U.S. intelligence operations. In short, he’s – in a very practical sense – a political prisoner, whether he has figured it out yet or not. This is because the Russians, just like the Soviets were, are obsessed with what we know about them and how we know it, and more than anything else they seek to prevent anyone from finding out what they are doing.

In fact, it’s far more than an obsession with them – it is probably the most important thing driving Russian political and international behavior since the Czars, through the revolution, Lenin, Stalin, the Cold War and through the end of the Soviet Union itself.

But it didn’t end there, because to many, and especially the KGB, it was Gorbachev’s “Glasnost,” or “openness” that brought the old Soviet Union down in the first place, and Putin certainly has that view of what he needs to do to stay in power. He intends to keep his corrupt regime around for a long time, and has no intention of allowing any kind of Western government “transparency” to bring him down.

So, the allegedly naïve Edward Snowden is just the latest window that the Russians have into what we know about them and how we know it – the others being convicted spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, and to a lessor extent, Pfc. Bradley Manning. Sure, Ames and Hanssen were motivated by money, and Manning and Snowden by “principal,” they allege, but it’s all the same to the Russians.

And they’ll laugh all the way to the next summit.

 

By: Daniel J. Gallington, U. S. News and World Report, August 9, 2013

August 10, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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