Wednesday, 7 October 2015

PUTIN: the monster amongst us           

I am grateful to the people who prepared the CBC Fifth Estate program that was aired on October 3rd, 2015 in Canada that was titled, PUTIN’S LONG SHADOW and also other sources that have been written by researchers about this monster.  I think most people nowadays recognize this man Vladimir Putin as the monster that he is however, the vast number of people world-wide know very little about him. It is for this reason that I am writing this article about this monster to enlighten those who should know more about him.

The Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been the leader of Russia longer than the last three American presidents have been the leaders of the United States. So far Putin has been in power 14 years and he is on track to stay in power until 2024. He is no different than when Stalin was in power for 29 years. Putin’s incursions into Chechnya, Georgia, the Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and now, the northwestern part of Syria have rattled Europe and other countries and for good reason.  His excursions are not unlike those of Hitler who invaded almost all of the countries in Europe and in North Africa. Putin is a dictator like those other two monsters were.  He cracks down against his opponents just as the other two monsters did and jails them after he has stolen their businesses.  

During Putin's first premiership and presidency (1999–2008) real incomes in Russia rose by a factor of 2.5, while real wages more than tripled with unemployment and poverty more than halved. Russians' self-assessed life satisfaction also rose significantly. Russians per se were pleased. But then when Hitler also came to power, the German Mark (its money) rose in value and almost everyone who wanted to work was able to find employment. Germans per se were also pleased. Both the Russian people and those of Germany didn’t know then that when those two monsters came into power, their misery was just around the corner waiting to spring on them.

In May 1990, Putin was appointed as an advisor on international affairs to Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. Then, on June 28, 1991, he became head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor's Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments. That Committee headed by Putin also registered business ventures.

When some persons are given authority, they will become corrupt. Just as feces follows the eating of food, less than one year later, Putin was investigated by the city legislative council, and the investigators concluded that Putin had understated prices and permitted the export of metals valued at $93 million, in exchange for foreign food aid that never arrived. Despite the investigators' recommendation that Putin be fired, Putin still remained head of the Committee for External Relations until 1996. That was because his mentor, Mayor Anatoly Sobchak was also corrupt.

In 1997 a criminal investigation started against Sobchak. He was accused of irregularities in the privatization of his own apartment, his elder daughter's apartment, and his wife's art studio. By the standards of the 1990s in Russia, the allegations were relatively minor although the alleged losses for city finances were still in the tens of thousands of dollars. On November  7, 1997, Sobchak flew to Paris on a private plane without passport processing on the Russian side. The formal reason for his departure was medical treatment in a Paris hospital for his heart condition however Sobchak never checked in at any hospital. Between 1997 and 1999 he lived the typical life of a rich political immigrant in Paris. In June 1999, his friend Vladimir Putin became much stronger politically (in a few weeks he became the Prime Minister of Russia), and he was able to make the prosecutors drop the charges against Sobchak.

Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as president of Russia on May 7, 2000. Between 2000 and 2004, Putin set about reconstruction of the impoverished condition of the country, apparently winning a power-struggle with the Russian oligarchs, reaching a 'grand-bargain' with them. This bargain allowed the oligarchs to maintain most of their powers, in exchange for their explicit support for and alignment with his government

The continued criminal prosecution of Russia's then richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (with a fortune of over $15 billion)  who was the president of the YUKOS (oil company), for fraud and  tax evasion, was seen by the international press as a retaliation for Khodorkovsky's donations to both liberal and communist opponents of the Kremlin. The Putin government said that Khodorkovsky was corrupting a large segment of the Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russiaparliament) to prevent tax code changes such as taxes on windfall profits. Khodorkovsky was arrested, YUKOS was bankrupted and the company's assets were auctioned at below-market value, with the largest share acquired by the state company Rosneft that is an integrated oil company owned by the Government of Russia.  After serving eight years of a nine-year sentence,  President Vladimir Putin pardoned him, releasing him from jail on 20 December 2013.

There was widespread concern internationally that the trials and sentencing were politically motivated. The trial was criticized abroad for the lack of due process. Khodorkovsky lodged several applications with the European Court of Human Rights, seeking redress for alleged violations by Russia of his human rights. In response to his first application, which concerned events from 2003 to 2005, the court found that several violations were committed by the Russian authorities in their treatment of Khodorkovsky. In particular, the court ruled that Khodorkovsky's arrest was "unlawful as it had been made with a purpose different from the one expressed". Despite these findings, the court ultimately ruled that the trial was not politically motivated, but rather "that the charges against him were grounded in 'reasonable suspicion' alone. In counties like the United States and Canada along with other Commonwealth countries, reasonable suspicion are grounds for an arrest but not grounds for a conviction.

Allegations of criminal activity dates as far back as Putin’s early days as a top official in St. Petersburg; ties to organized crime and money-laundering activities; and a secret personal fortune said to be in the billions.

Vladimir Putin, when he was the Russian prime minister, had secret “illicit” assets hidden outside his country, according to allegations contained in reports from Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state that was  disclosed in the latest batch of Wikileaks cables. Ms. Rice said she had been told by opposition figures in Russia that Mr. Putin had attempted to engineer a safe transition of his assets when he stepped down as president in 2008 because he wanted to avoid “law enforcement investigations”.

 The cable recorded a conversation between David Kramar, then the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Eurasian affairs, and an unidentified opposition leader during a visit to Washington. Mr. Kramar was told that Mr. Putin was “nervously seeking to secure his future immunity from potential law enforcement investigations into his alleged illicit proceeds.” Cables linked Mr. Putin’s wealth to a “secretive Swiss-based oil trading firm” called Gunvor. Mr. Putin has previously faced speculation about the extent and source of his wealth. One estimate put his personal fortune at £25 billion. ($28,187, 906, 765)  Critics of the president have claimed he is Europe’s richest man. He certainly didn’t get that money as income from his salaries.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio escalated his rhetoric against Vladimir Putin  vowing if elected to the White House he would isolate Russia diplomatically and impose a series of new sanctions on Moscow. He said, “As soon as I take office, I will move quickly to increase pressure on Moscow.” He also said, “Under my administration, there will be no pleadings for meetings with Vladimir Putin. He will be treated for what he is—a gangster and a thug.”

The fiery criticisms even attracted a response from Putin on CBS television’s 60 Minutes program, who when asked about Rubio’s description of him responded: “How can I be a gangster if I worked for the KGB? Come on. That does not correspond to reality.”

The KGB was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. The KGB favored what they would call “Active Measures, that brought about under its umbrella, disinformation, propaganda, counterfeiting official documents, assassinations, and political repression, such as penetration of churches, and persecution of political dissidents. If that isn’t a form of gangsterisim, then what is? Putin was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB. Its violent methods for interrogating and “purging” were reminiscent of the NKVD era, which was criticized and ultimately led to its downfall in 1991

He is also a bald-faced liar.  He let the world know that he was sending Russian aircraft to Syria to assist the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad—another monster—in his fight with ISIS. That is a lie. He sent his aircraft to help Bashar al-Assad fight the Syrian rebels who are trying to get him removed from the presidency of Syria. Proof of that is as follows;

The Russian airstrikes have targeted central and northwest Syria that are direct pathways for the rebels to attack Bashar al-Assad’s strongholds in the Syrian capital. Some of the strikes had hit western-backed Syrian rebels. The ISIS has no presence in the central and northwest part of Syria where the rebels are located so there was no legitimate reason for the Russian war planes bombing those areas.

Rabbits are not native to Australia. In 1859, 12 wild rabbits were imported from England. By 1886 their descendants were colonizing new areas of southeastern Australia at the rate of 66 miles a year in all directions By 1907 the rabbits had reached both the west and the east coasts of Australia, roughly the distance between California and New York.  Nothing could stop the plague of rabbits.  Hunting, trapping, and poisoning were to no avail.  The billions of rabbits were eating much of the sparse vegetation that supported Australia's huge sheep and cattle industry resulting in the farmers suffering enormous financial losses.

I hope that the citizens of Syria see the message in the aforementioned paragraph. As I see it, by the time Bashar al-Assad is removed, the Russians will be in Syria by the thousands and taking over Syria.

Putin has intruded into Syria because it gives him a sugar high that he can show the world that he too is a world power like the United States.  As a result of him flexing his nation’s muscles against other nations, he has climbed a tree to escape the sanctions that other countries are placing on him and his nation.  I think that many countries prefer that he remain on the tree. 

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