The BBC World Service has done a number of radio documentaries on Russia and Putin. The Kremlin and the World is a four part series on Russia’s relationship with its “near abroad,” energy politics, Europe, and the United States. The second series, After the KGB, chronicles the fall and rise of the Russian secret service since the collapse of communism. In addition to all this, BBC has set up a special website called the Putin Project. Therein are several reports and interviews on the social, cultural, political, and economic state of Russia. You can also find more Russia goodies on BBC News‘ Resurgent Russia page.
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By Sean — 11 years ago
Presidents Bush and Putin are set to meet this Sunday at the former’s family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush’s camp has already announced that it has low expectations for the meeting especially on such issues as cooperation on missile defense and Kosovo independence. “I would caution against expecting grand new announcements,” cautioned White House press secretary Tony Snow. “This is, in fact, an opportunity for two leaders to talk honestly and candidly with one another.”
It appears that the global public feels the same. In anticipation for the summit, Pew Research Center did an extensive poll on global attitudes toward each president and other global powers. As the report states:
A 47-nation survey finds global public opinion increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations and disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years. At the same time, the image of China has slipped significantly among the publics of other major nations. Opinion about Russia is mixed, but confidence in its president, Vladimir Putin, has declined sharply. In fact, the Russian leader’s negatives have soared to the point that they mirror the nearly worldwide lack of confidence in George W. Bush.
Disapproval for Bush results from the America’s Iraq War, the War on Terror and its violation of human rights and use of torture. “Favorable ratings of America are lower in 26 of 33 countries for which trends are available,” the survey reports. Approval of the US is highest in West Africa and lowest in the Islamic countries. Displeasure with Putin is significantly strong in Western Europe where dependence on Russian energy has increased. Many Europeans feel that they are held hostage to Russia’s willingness to use energy as a weapon of foreign policy.
When looking at each president’s respective countries, the results are telling. In the States, 45% of Americans have a confidence in Bush’s leadership and 30% have similar views of Putin. In Russia, 18% have confidence in Bush, while Putin garners an overwhelming 84% of his compatriots’ confidence. Putin maybe disliked the world over, but he is loved in Russia.
While Bush and Putin are unpopular, the study states that this hasn’t translated in support for nations that may serve as countervailing forces. Leaders in China, Iran and Venezuela all remain similarly unpopular.Post Views: 80
By Sean — 11 years ago
Amid all the banter about a “new Cold War” between Russia and the United States, the Confrontation Cold War Museum in Moscow takes on a whole new relevance. The new tourist attraction is the former Taganski Underground Command Center, a 75,000 square foot underground dwelling built in Stalin’s last years to house the Soviet leadership in the event of a US nuclear attack. As David Holley of the LA Times reports, “historical remembrance and a touch of make-believe mix in an ambiguous but thought-provoking cocktail.”
Indeed. For a ticket price of $9.75 for students, $19.50 for adults and $39 for foreigners (ouch!), you can put on a Soviet army poncho and a gas mask and be led through the halls of a Cold War relic. The museum is still in development but as of now there are posters and other military equipment dawn the shelter’s mostly empty hallways and corridors.
But soon, promises Olga Arkharova, the museums director, a replica of the command center and a military themed restaurant will dazzle spectators.
The museum’s mission however is more than revisiting the Cold War through kitsch. “The task of our complex, which is called Confrontation, is to preserve this facility as a reminder and a warning that situations like this should be prevented forever,” Arkharova explained to the LA Times. “The idea we want to present to the children and the adults is that we want to have an open and frank dialogue with other countries, to prevent the world from entering another situation where we’re forced to build facilities like this.”
It seems, however, that all students are getting from the museum is that its creepy.
Andrei Kvyk, 21, a student at the Moscow Construction Institute, said being in the shelter gave him “the creeps.”
“They say that this is all a thing of the past and that the Cold War is over,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s the case. I am sure facilities like this still exist in Moscow and across the country and are on combat duty every second. I am sure the Cold War was never over. They are lying to us.”
. . .
“It is so spooky — these tunnels, this porridge, this damp air 60 meters under the ground,” said Yana Arutyunova, 25, a market researcher who joined the tour. “People in the tunnels look like ghosts of the past. You can’t but feel danger here. Everything was removed at some point, all the equipment, but you can still feel this concentrated cold fear permeating the air.”
. . .
Nina Borodina, 21, a university student, said that “these haunting shafts” made her think of how her grandmother “lived all her life feeling the danger of being bombed any second.”
“She told me how terrified they were of an imminent nuclear war back in the 1960s,” Borodina said. “Now I can understand a little of what she lived through. I don’t think there is any danger of nuclear war now. We are friends with the West.”
She said she was convinced that, whatever complaints the two sides may voice about each other, Putin “is leading the country along the way of real cooperation with the United States and other Western countries, and they will never be our enemies again.”
“But it was good to come down here,” she added. “It gives you a sense of what horrors we were saved from.”
Spooky or not, I know that next time I go to Moscow, I am so there.Post Views: 163
By Sean — 10 years ago
Yesterday Putin was running late to a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The reason why his limo zipped from northern Moscow to the Kremlin? As Kommersant commentator Andrei Kolesnikov reveals the President’s tardiness was because he was recording an address to the nation to be aired on 29 November on Ostankino TV.
Over the last week, Putin has been waging an aggressive political campaign for United Russia. The high point came the other day when he addressed a crowd of 5000 supporters at the Luzhniki sports stadium. He castigated the Russian opposition as “jackals” feeding off Western money (Who did he mean here? The Communists? Or does it even matter?) and promoted the UR’s commitment to economic and political stability. The state run Channel One devoted much of its news time hyping the speech.
The essence of next Thursday’s address will contain “almost nothing new” predicts Kolesnikov. In it, Putin will most likely clarify his relationship to the Party of Power, which he is still not officially a member, and continue to promote its record on stability. Most importantly, is that the address signifies the increasing attempt to portray Putin not as the President of Russia but as a candidate for United Russia. The fact that the address was recorded away from the Kremlin is symbolic of this.
But all of this reveals a possible emerging tension for Putin’s future, which as of now remains unknown. He seems to be straddling between being a politician where he represents United Russia and stand above politics as such and represent Russia as a whole. Its apparent that Putin sees himself in regard to the former. Last week on a campaign visit to Krasnoyarsk, he hit United Russia with, “The party has no stable political ideology or principles for which the overwhelming majority of members are ready to fight. … And, as a rule, being close to those in power, as United Russia is, all kind of crooks try to latch on to it, often with success.” He then went on to suggest that without him, United Russia has nothing. Brutally honest, but correct.
Then there is the effort to make Putin a “national leader”–a sort of quasi-constitutional monarch that stands above politics (Are we seeing the beginnings of an October Manifesto redux?). A kind of elder statesman who still commands a tight grip on the reigns of power and influence. His remarks in Krasnoyarsk also suggested that he seeks to stand above political parties and represent the country and its people. Citing the chronic Russian problem of the disconnect between power and people, Putin said, “So if people vote for United Russia, whose list I head up, that means that they trust me, and that means that I will have the moral right to call all those who will be in both the Duma and the government to account for implementing the decisions that have been mapped out today.”
Perhaps in next week’s address Putin will give a better idea of which he intends to be. Or would it better for his own power to straddle the two? To stand above Russian politics, while keeping a planted foot in its structures? Whatever it will be the one, the other, or a flexible combination of the two, one things for sure, Putin’s revolution will “stay the course” as they like to say in America.Post Views: 154