Enter the soft and cuddly Putin. Putin held a webcast question and answer session today to score some brownie points ahead of the G-8 Summit. Among the many questions he answered was why he kissed that boy (he wanted to “pet him like a kitten, nothing more”), his past as a spy, and the first time he did “it”. To the latter question he said this,
“I can’t remember exactly when I did it for the first time,” a laughing Putin said. “But I certainly remember when I did it the last time, to the exact minute.”
To quote Frank Booth, Putin, you’re so fucking suave. You’re one real suave fuck.
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By Sean — 4 years ago
This weeks’ Russia Magazine column, “Historical Lineages of Putin’s Russian National Identity,”
Last week, Putin delivered a speech on Russia’s national identity at the 10thannual Valdai Club meeting. Though much of the speech reiterated central concepts Putin laid out in his 2012 Presidential campaign article on ethnicity, I was nonetheless struck by his remarks. Over the last week I’ve been talking about Slavophilism, Russian national awakening, and pan-Slavism in my late Imperial Russia class. Putin’s comments resonated with some of the same questions consuming literati in the mid-nineteenth century. In particular, I couldn’t help focusing on the Slavophile moments in Putin’s text despite its rather motley nature. Moreover, I couldn’t help hear echoes of Nikolai Danilevsky’s Russia and Europe (1869). I’ve been reading about Danilevsky’s notions of circular history, the uniqueness of Russian civilization, its incompatibility with the West, and Russia’s messianic mission for a lecture on pan-Slavism. I’m not saying that Danilevsky had a direct influence on Putin. I have no idea if Putin ever read Danilevsky’s text. Nor do Danilevsky’s and Putin’s text correspond exactly. Only, I claim, that some of the issues concerning the Russian idea in the nineteenth century remain unresolved today. Namely, the nature of Russian civilization, its relationship to the West, and its particular historical development and mission. Putin’s thoughts on these fall into a deep historical tradition on the nature of Russia’s national identity and how it’s realized.Post Views: 795
By Sean — 4 years ago
By William Risch @williamrisch
The Russian occupation of Crimea over the weekend has alarmed President Barack Obama, the UN, NATO, the EU, and, last but not least, the people of Ukraine. A week ago, it looked like the Euromaidan protest movement , which began in late November over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, and grew into a mass movement against Yanukovych’s authoritarian rule, had won. After an agreement with the political opposition on February 21, Yanukovych and his entourage fled Kyiv. The next day, Ukraine’s parliament, the Supreme Rada, overthrew Yanukovych. Most importantly, Ukraine had avoided civil war, despite significant differences over things like historical memory , relations with Russia, and attitudes toward the Euromaidan protest movement in Western and Eastern Ukraine. Pro-Yanukovych elites in Eastern Ukraine pledged their loyalty to Kyiv and accused Yanukovych of betraying them.
Then came Crimea.
On February 27, unknown armed men seized Crimea’s parliament in Simferopol. Then Russian military forces, some stationed in Crimea, took over or surrounded Ukrainian military installations. They claimed to be protecting Crimea’s citizens, of whom about 60 percent are ethnic Russian. Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, claimed that Russians had been killed there. Yet on March 2, the speaker of Crimea’s parliament said he knew nothing about it.
Ukraine, rather than facing civil war, is threatened with partition by Russia.
Take Kharkiv, an eastern industrial city. Hired thugs, some from Russian cities like Voronezh and Belgorod, came to a meeting of “patriotic Kharkivians,” stormed the governor’s office, dragged out about 30 Euromaidan activists inside, and beat them up and humiliated them on Freedom Square. They hoisted Russian flags from the governor’s office. Russians from outside Ukraine were involved. Over the weekend, Euromaidan activist Vitaly Umanets discovered an invitation from “Ukrainian Civil Self-Defense” to residents of Belgorod and Rostov-on-the-Don, Russian cities bordering Ukraine, to take part in organized resistance in Donetsk and Kharkiv while posing as ordinary tourists at the border.
Many in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea distrust the new regime. Yet this weekend’s acts of violence in Kharkiv and Donetsk, or fake stories about such acts in Crimea, are reminiscent of fictitious and semi-fictitious accounts of violence against ethnic Germans that Nazi Germany used to justify annexation of the Sudetenland and the conquest of Czechoslovakia and Poland. Russia’s Federation Council on March 1 had approved use of force in Ukraine “for the normalization of the political situation in this country.” With the Russian media since late November portraying Euromaidan protestors as extreme nationalists and hirelings of the West, Putin most likely is using Russian forces, and provocateurs from across the border, to take not just Crimea, but also Eastern Ukraine, and maybe even install a more loyal regime in Kyiv.Post Views: 347
By Sean — 10 years ago
Winston Churchill was never without an insightful quip about Russia. In 1939, he made his famous Russia is “a mystery wrapped inside an enigma.” Just when you think he couldn’t top that, at some point he made this apt observation: “Watching clans in Russia is like watching dogs fighting under a carpet.” If Winston was right, and I think he was, where is Michael Vick when you need him?
For almost five months now, the Kremlin dogs have been clawing and biting each other under the carpet. The Western media has been slow to tune into the show except for a few notable exceptions. The first is the Eurasian Daily Monitor‘s Jonas Bernstein. His veterinarian skills are unmatched when it concerns the machinations of the Russia’s top dogs tumbling under the rug. His articles have been essential in discerning who are the pits and who are the poodles, and who is lockjawed around whose neck.
The Moscow Times and the eXile have also been on the cutting edge of the siloviki’s clan tiffs. The Times‘ retrospective on Putin’s Legacy is a must read. Nabi Abdullaev’s “How Putin Put the Kremlin on Top” chronicles the reinstitution of the “power vertical.” Francesca Mereu’s “Putin Made Good on Promise to FSB” charts the return of the FSB to their rightful place at the top of the Russian hierarchy. When put together, you get a glimpse at how Putin and his boyars made Russia the fighting pit for their under carpet wrangling.
The eXile also has its finger on the pulse or maybe it’s better to say a ringside seat at the pit. Mark Ames’ “Siloviki Clan War Heats Up” and “The Kremlin’s Clan Warfare: The Putin Era Ends” are good places to go for determining the betting line.
Thankfully, more and more Western news outlets are starting to tune into the fractious spectacle. Take Gregory Feifer’s report “Russian Clans Drive Kremlin Infighting” on NPR as a good recent example.
Things appear to have been quiet in the Clan War since the holidays. One strange episode was an alleged recording of a bathhouse conversation between Putin, Anatoli Chubais, and Aleksey Kudrin (I’ve provided a .pdf copy of the whole Forum.msk article and recording transcript here. The translation is from JRL#23). A transcript of the recording was first published on the liberal site Ezhednevyi zhurnal. It was quickly denounced as a Sechin clan forgery and EZh was accused of being their tool in a black PR campaign against Putin. I don’t know how you can think that the recording isn’t anything but a forgery. I love the “your gang . . .” followed by “Tolya, my colleagues. Didn’t I make myself clear.” Take the following as an example:
Chubais: Let me remind you that seven years ago we reached a general understanding. We would help you carry out liberal reforms. We advanced a counter-condition. Your gang…
Chubais: …Colleagues, of course, would keep the whole administrative system under control. Right?
Putin: Right, of course. And isn’t it true, everything was really well thought out?!
Chubais: Are you kidding?! Let’s total it up. The reforms went to the devil, the state machinery is in ruins, and your gang…
Putin: Tolya (nickname for Anatoliy), my colleagues. Didn’t I make myself clear?
Chubais: I’m sorry, Vladimir Vladimirovich, your colleagues. After all, it is clear to everyone that they are colleagues.
Putin: Don’t be conceited, just go on.
Chubais: Well then, so your colleagues stole so much that no one in this country…
Putin: In our country, Tolya, in our country! What kind of Anglicisms they are! Lousy liberals! Agents of influence!
Chubais: Of course, in our country… no one in our country has ever dreamed of such pillage, so vast and massive.
Putin: Aren’t you exaggerating?
Chubais: And how much, in your opinion, am I exaggerating?
Putin: Okay, not so much, go on.
Chubais: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the scale of their assets and their illegality is substantial. They need to be protected, they need to protect themselves. And there is the professional deformation: they know no restrictions on their means. Surely you know about this?
Putin: What are you hinting at?
Chubais: Sorry, I misspoke. I meant to say, surely you understand what I have in mind?
Putin: Let’s suppose so. Go on.
Chubais: Up to this point, we have helped you help us preserve the balance…
Putin: But you blurted it out. And I realized it!
Chubais: I was figuring on that. Now the balance is upset. You know about that better than others. And they have gotten out from under your control.
This may well be a feeble attempt to get at Putin. But I suspect the real struggle will take place after the March elections. Will Medvedev move against Sechin and send him to an early political retirement? What role will Putin play as Dmitiri’s consigliere? At any rate, there only a few more weeks left of calm before the possible storm.Post Views: 228