The Vladimir Putin thread

polar

Pelican
Gold Member
Browder was the head of Hermitage Capital, one of the first and most successful hedge funds in the Russian market. Their strategy was activist investment - buy up enough shares to get additional information on companies, use lawyers to sue the companies to run in the interests of the shareholders, as opposed to siphoning money out. This is where Firestone Duncan, and their lawyer Magnitsky came in.

Magnitsky discovered a $128m tax fraud that was performed via crude forgeries of documents of one of the companies with a stake by Hermitage. Put differently, money intended to be refunded to the company (and thus benefitting the shareholders) was instead siphoned off into the personal accounts of government crooks. Instead of taking the offer of Firestone to move to London with his entire family, Magnitsky decided to stay and continue fighting against this corruption. This led to his imprisonment on bogus charges that were flipped against him. He died in custody after willful ignorance by prison staff to his deteriorating health.

Browder has since left the Russian market, and has been one of the biggest voices against Russian corruption.
 
polar said:
Browder was the head of Hermitage Capital, one of the first and most successful hedge funds in the Russian market. Their strategy was activist investment - buy up enough shares to get additional information on companies, use lawyers to sue the companies to run in the interests of the shareholders, as opposed to siphoning money out. This is where Firestone Duncan, and their lawyer Magnitsky came in.

Magnitsky discovered a $128m tax fraud that was performed via crude forgeries of documents of one of the companies with a stake by Hermitage. Put differently, money intended to be refunded to the company (and thus benefitting the shareholders) was instead siphoned off into the personal accounts of government crooks. Instead of taking the offer of Firestone to move to London with his entire family, Magnitsky decided to stay and continue fighting against this corruption. This led to his imprisonment on bogus charges that were flipped against him. He died in custody after willful ignorance by prison staff to his deteriorating health.

Browder has since left the Russian market, and has been one of the biggest voices against Russian corruption.
Good answer. But should read "he has since then become one of the biggest voices against Russian corruption." Browder was at best, indifferent, to the corruption during his tenure in Russia.
 

AManLikePutin

Kingfisher
Ah...Mr Bill Browder, the brave anti-corruption and justice-seeking hero. The dude was one of Putin's biggest fans when he was swimming in cash in Russia and only became "His number 1 Enemy" after he had to get in line.

from 2004 at Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/arch...599-a9fc-0cecea328c62/?utm_term=.bae5fa5cdfd9

To his fierce and increasingly worried critics, President Vladimir Putin is a grave threat to post-Soviet democracy, a would-be authoritarian intent on building "capitalism with a Stalinist face," as one reformist leader put it.

But investor William F. Browder sees it differently. Never mind the arguments about a creeping coup by Putin's KGB colleagues, the war in Chechnya, the state takeover of television or even the jailing of Russia's richest man. To Browder, Putin is a true reformer, "the one ally" of Western capitalists who have come to Russia to create a new market economy but have found themselves adrift "in a sea of corrupt bullies."

"What's the worst-case scenario?" asked Browder, who has bet $1.3 billion in the investment fund he runs on the success of the Putin presidency. "That I misjudged and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But I just don't think the objective here is Stalinism."

This pointed debate about where Putin is taking the country is reaching a new pitch as Russia prepares to reward him with a second term in an election on March 14 in which none of his opponents has registered more than single digits in the polls. In another twist, Putin on Tuesday fired his cabinet, including the prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov.

No one has been making the case for Putin more ardently than Browder and others in the small but influential class of Western investors, investment analysts and stockbrokers based in Moscow. They have become the most consistent rosy-eyed optimists about the KGB spy-turned-president -- and they are making money hand over fist in Russia's booming market.

So taken with Putin are they that one of these Western brokers termed the president "Saint Vladimir" in a recent report, while others find ways to tout the latest investment case for Russia no matter what the news. Even the arrest of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky last October created only temporary jitters. By last week, the stock market had recovered the 20-plus percent it had lost and surged ahead to an all-time high, making it the best-performing market in the world since Putin came to power in late 1999.

Putin's economics minister, German Gref, warned last week that the market was in danger of "overheating" with all the money pouring in at a time when needed economic reforms have still not been made. But that, too, failed to cause a slowdown.

"I'm one of the Putin apologists," said Eric Kraus, the chief strategist of the Sovlink investment firm here who coined the "Saint Vladimir" phrase. "No bones about it," he added in an interview.

Sounding the alarm about Putin have been independent political analysts and academics, newspaper editorial writers and the dwindling ranks of Russian liberals who found themselves voted entirely out of the Russian parliament in December.

But investment types like Browder, the grandson of an American Communist leader whose Hermitage Capital Management is now the largest foreign investment fund in Russia, have started fighting back.

Their challenge has come in the form of e-mails circulated to thousands of subscribers, daily investment reports, interviews with Western media and prominently placed op-eds in other publications, including Browder's recent paean in the Moscow Times, "Making the Case for Putin." Foreign investment, though still modest, has followed -- $29.7 billion last year, a 50 percent leap over 2002 -- as Russia's oil-fueled economy grew for the fifth year in a row.

"I just don't buy this critique of him as a KGB thug who wants power for its own sake," said Al Breach, another Putin fan and chief economist at Brunswick UBS, a leading Western investment bank here. "If someone's after that, then they're not spending their time on the details of electricity reform."

For many longtime Russia hands, the increasingly pointed debate harkens back to the Cold War feuds that split Kremlinologists into camps that remain to this day.

"Once again, people's views on Russia are really polarized and nerves are frayed in ways we haven't seen publicly since Putin came to power," said Andrew Kuchins, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, whose analysts have been critical of Putin's authoritarian drift. "There's that sort of energy and emotion to the debate about Russia that I haven't seen in a long time."

Kuchins called Browder the "chief cheerleader" for the Russian president and questioned the reliability of opinions being offered by pro-Putin business leaders who are getting rich from the bullish Russian market.

"Putin dazzled them. . . . I hope they're right, but there's just too much evidence that suggests the contrary," Kuchins said. "If you believe consolidation of a real democracy in Russia is a good thing, it's just hard not to be concerned about what's going on."

For his part, Browder said Putin's critics are armchair experts so far removed from reality that they have failed to account for the president's 70-plus percent approval ratings among Russians. Browder, 39, has spent more than a decade betting on the place. A Stanford MBA, he came to Moscow eager to explore his family's Communist past but stayed on to become one of the first investors here in the early 1990s as a trader at Salomon Brothers. He started Hermitage Capital with $25 million in seed money back in 1996, lives in an apartment in Moscow and says he has no plans to ever leave.

Since Putin came to power, Browder has touted him as a reform-minded technocrat, able to accomplish liberal economic reforms, such as a 13 percent flat tax and private land ownership, that his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, only talked about. Browder always disagreed with those who feared Putin, but that difference of opinion has widened into a seemingly unbreachable gulf in recent months as the Russian government has launched an all-out legal assault on Khodorkovsky and his oil company, Yukos.

And in that fight, Browder said, "I would trust Putin any day of the week."

For Browder and many of the other investment types here, taking Putin's side comes as a response to their disdain for Khodorkovsky and the other so-called oligarchs who amassed fabulous riches in 1990s privatization deals.

Browder, who has publicly clashed with Khodorkovsky and other oligarchs over what he considers illegal efforts to dilute the value of minority shareholders in their companies, argues that Putin is the only political leader in Russia to attempt to halt their abuses. "It's like being in a lawless schoolyard where there's bullies running around and beating up all us little people and then one day a big bully comes along and all the little bullies fall into line," he said. "That's what the state is supposed to be -- the big bully."

Indeed, Browder said, in recent years he has shifted his fund's investment strategy in Russia, concluding that it only makes sense to invest in nationally significant companies like Gazprom, the state-controlled natural gas monopoly, or Unified Energy Systems, the electricity monopoly. That way, he said, if he encounters problems with management of those state firms, "my leverage is the president."

In the end, his faith in Russia's economic progress has come down to a very personal faith in the president. For Browder and many of his colleagues, debates about democracy are beside the point, "a fairy tale," as Breach put it, that isn't going to come true anytime soon.

"We're taught to believe in liberte, egalite, fraternite as principles you absolutely cannot compromise on," Browder said. "In Russia, without proper institutions all of these just create chaos. It means you end up with seven oligarchs in control of 60 percent of the economy. If the state has to have a bit more power right now, that seems to be the price most Russians are willing to pay."

President Vladimir Putin has been lauded by Westerners who are prospering because of the booming market.Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, appeared by video link during a bail hearing in November. His arrest was seen as part of a Putin campaign against so-called oligarchs.
 

AManLikePutin

Kingfisher
For the record, I am not convinced that Russia , as we know it today, will still be existing by 2030-2040ish. It only takes one drunk/puppet ruler...Yeltsin nearly gave Kaliningrad to Germany in the 90s
 
AManLikePutin said:
Ah...Mr Bill Browder, the brave anti-corruption and justice-seeking hero. The dude was one of Putin's biggest fans when he was swimming in cash in Russia and only became "His number 1 Enemy" after he had to get in line.

from 2004 at Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/arch...599-a9fc-0cecea328c62/?utm_term=.bae5fa5cdfd9

To his fierce and increasingly worried critics, President Vladimir Putin is a grave threat to post-Soviet democracy, a would-be authoritarian intent on building "capitalism with a Stalinist face," as one reformist leader put it.

But investor William F. Browder sees it differently. Never mind the arguments about a creeping coup by Putin's KGB colleagues, the war in Chechnya, the state takeover of television or even the jailing of Russia's richest man. To Browder, Putin is a true reformer, "the one ally" of Western capitalists who have come to Russia to create a new market economy but have found themselves adrift "in a sea of corrupt bullies."

"What's the worst-case scenario?" asked Browder, who has bet $1.3 billion in the investment fund he runs on the success of the Putin presidency. "That I misjudged and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But I just don't think the objective here is Stalinism."

This pointed debate about where Putin is taking the country is reaching a new pitch as Russia prepares to reward him with a second term in an election on March 14 in which none of his opponents has registered more than single digits in the polls. In another twist, Putin on Tuesday fired his cabinet, including the prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov.

No one has been making the case for Putin more ardently than Browder and others in the small but influential class of Western investors, investment analysts and stockbrokers based in Moscow. They have become the most consistent rosy-eyed optimists about the KGB spy-turned-president -- and they are making money hand over fist in Russia's booming market.

So taken with Putin are they that one of these Western brokers termed the president "Saint Vladimir" in a recent report, while others find ways to tout the latest investment case for Russia no matter what the news. Even the arrest of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky last October created only temporary jitters. By last week, the stock market had recovered the 20-plus percent it had lost and surged ahead to an all-time high, making it the best-performing market in the world since Putin came to power in late 1999.

Putin's economics minister, German Gref, warned last week that the market was in danger of "overheating" with all the money pouring in at a time when needed economic reforms have still not been made. But that, too, failed to cause a slowdown.

"I'm one of the Putin apologists," said Eric Kraus, the chief strategist of the Sovlink investment firm here who coined the "Saint Vladimir" phrase. "No bones about it," he added in an interview.

Sounding the alarm about Putin have been independent political analysts and academics, newspaper editorial writers and the dwindling ranks of Russian liberals who found themselves voted entirely out of the Russian parliament in December.

But investment types like Browder, the grandson of an American Communist leader whose Hermitage Capital Management is now the largest foreign investment fund in Russia, have started fighting back.

Their challenge has come in the form of e-mails circulated to thousands of subscribers, daily investment reports, interviews with Western media and prominently placed op-eds in other publications, including Browder's recent paean in the Moscow Times, "Making the Case for Putin." Foreign investment, though still modest, has followed -- $29.7 billion last year, a 50 percent leap over 2002 -- as Russia's oil-fueled economy grew for the fifth year in a row.

"I just don't buy this critique of him as a KGB thug who wants power for its own sake," said Al Breach, another Putin fan and chief economist at Brunswick UBS, a leading Western investment bank here. "If someone's after that, then they're not spending their time on the details of electricity reform."

For many longtime Russia hands, the increasingly pointed debate harkens back to the Cold War feuds that split Kremlinologists into camps that remain to this day.

"Once again, people's views on Russia are really polarized and nerves are frayed in ways we haven't seen publicly since Putin came to power," said Andrew Kuchins, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, whose analysts have been critical of Putin's authoritarian drift. "There's that sort of energy and emotion to the debate about Russia that I haven't seen in a long time."

Kuchins called Browder the "chief cheerleader" for the Russian president and questioned the reliability of opinions being offered by pro-Putin business leaders who are getting rich from the bullish Russian market.

"Putin dazzled them. . . . I hope they're right, but there's just too much evidence that suggests the contrary," Kuchins said. "If you believe consolidation of a real democracy in Russia is a good thing, it's just hard not to be concerned about what's going on."

For his part, Browder said Putin's critics are armchair experts so far removed from reality that they have failed to account for the president's 70-plus percent approval ratings among Russians. Browder, 39, has spent more than a decade betting on the place. A Stanford MBA, he came to Moscow eager to explore his family's Communist past but stayed on to become one of the first investors here in the early 1990s as a trader at Salomon Brothers. He started Hermitage Capital with $25 million in seed money back in 1996, lives in an apartment in Moscow and says he has no plans to ever leave.

Since Putin came to power, Browder has touted him as a reform-minded technocrat, able to accomplish liberal economic reforms, such as a 13 percent flat tax and private land ownership, that his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, only talked about. Browder always disagreed with those who feared Putin, but that difference of opinion has widened into a seemingly unbreachable gulf in recent months as the Russian government has launched an all-out legal assault on Khodorkovsky and his oil company, Yukos.

And in that fight, Browder said, "I would trust Putin any day of the week."

For Browder and many of the other investment types here, taking Putin's side comes as a response to their disdain for Khodorkovsky and the other so-called oligarchs who amassed fabulous riches in 1990s privatization deals.

Browder, who has publicly clashed with Khodorkovsky and other oligarchs over what he considers illegal efforts to dilute the value of minority shareholders in their companies, argues that Putin is the only political leader in Russia to attempt to halt their abuses. "It's like being in a lawless schoolyard where there's bullies running around and beating up all us little people and then one day a big bully comes along and all the little bullies fall into line," he said. "That's what the state is supposed to be -- the big bully."

Indeed, Browder said, in recent years he has shifted his fund's investment strategy in Russia, concluding that it only makes sense to invest in nationally significant companies like Gazprom, the state-controlled natural gas monopoly, or Unified Energy Systems, the electricity monopoly. That way, he said, if he encounters problems with management of those state firms, "my leverage is the president."

In the end, his faith in Russia's economic progress has come down to a very personal faith in the president. For Browder and many of his colleagues, debates about democracy are beside the point, "a fairy tale," as Breach put it, that isn't going to come true anytime soon.

"We're taught to believe in liberte, egalite, fraternite as principles you absolutely cannot compromise on," Browder said. "In Russia, without proper institutions all of these just create chaos. It means you end up with seven oligarchs in control of 60 percent of the economy. If the state has to have a bit more power right now, that seems to be the price most Russians are willing to pay."

President Vladimir Putin has been lauded by Westerners who are prospering because of the booming market.Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, appeared by video link during a bail hearing in November. His arrest was seen as part of a Putin campaign against so-called oligarchs.
Exactly... I was too lazy to look up his past statements. Great post.
 

polar

Pelican
Gold Member
Dragan said:
polar said:
Browder was the head of Hermitage Capital, one of the first and most successful hedge funds in the Russian market. Their strategy was activist investment - buy up enough shares to get additional information on companies, use lawyers to sue the companies to run in the interests of the shareholders, as opposed to siphoning money out. This is where Firestone Duncan, and their lawyer Magnitsky came in.

Magnitsky discovered a $128m tax fraud that was performed via crude forgeries of documents of one of the companies with a stake by Hermitage. Put differently, money intended to be refunded to the company (and thus benefitting the shareholders) was instead siphoned off into the personal accounts of government crooks. Instead of taking the offer of Firestone to move to London with his entire family, Magnitsky decided to stay and continue fighting against this corruption. This led to his imprisonment on bogus charges that were flipped against him. He died in custody after willful ignorance by prison staff to his deteriorating health.

Browder has since left the Russian market, and has been one of the biggest voices against Russian corruption.
Good answer. But should read "he has since then become one of the biggest voices against Russian corruption." Browder was at best, indifferent, to the corruption during his tenure in Russia.
Not quite. The activist investment relied on investing in companies with corrupt management (valued like 90% of the assets at book value were stolen), throwing lawyers at them to improve their governance, forcing the management to steal a bit less, and therefore improving cash flows and valuations. If you get company that was valued like 90% of its assets were stolen to go up to 80%, you just doubled your money. Another day at the office.

He didn't have a say about day-to-day corruption, but focused on fighting white collar crime - and profiting in the process. He didn't care if cops were taking bribes instead of writing traffic tickets.

That being said, I am not calling him a saint.
 

polar

Pelican
Gold Member
Re: Washington post article:

After the 90s when the government was in the back pocket of a handful of oligarchs who bought up most of the USSR's assets at fire sale prices, Putin's strong arm law was a welcome change. The hope was a model not dissimilar to China - strong central government setting the rules for corporations, not the other way around.

Economy was also growing and stabilizing after the 90s, and benefited from rising oil prices. A lot of people escaped the poverty of the 90s during Putin's early years as president. Crime was stomped down by law enforcement, with "protection money or your kneecaps" becoming a thing of the past.

Of course, the model then turned into one man rule married with crony capitalism, with the "in" oligarchs paying extra taxes for Putin's pet projects up front, while collecting huge profits on the back end from all of the contracts falling in their lap. Law enforcement became the new "protection..." those failing to pay risked jail time for frivolous reasons. And at the small / medium business level, those with government connections were able to leverage them to steal companies from their rightful owners.
 

gework

Ostrich
Gold Member
Does anyone know how much Putin spent campaigning? I can only find an old article saying he will spend $7M USD. That translates to 6 cents per voter. Hillary spent $6 per voter.
 

polar

Pelican
Gold Member
1) the public numbers are probably a lie (low ball). IIRC there was a ton of advertising and "get out the vote" to try and pump voting participation rates but those probably didn't get attributed to his campaign.

on the other hand:
2) one man race
3) rubber stamp election

So the spend didn't matter much.

What I want to know are the actual participation rates in the election. They can't be anywhere near the stated rates.
 

Rocha

Ostrich
Gold Member
The big question remains. Why are always foreigners meddling in Russia's affairs?

The people voted (en masse), the leader was elected. End.
Deal with it. When Trump won everyone cherished with democratic tears. I also cherish with foreign tears regarding Putin, specially American, Jewish and Ukrainian.

Undoubtedly the man has done a lot for his country and people, and re established Russia as a major International player. All the rest is fait divers.

He might have some personal interests at stake, but you guys are so naive to think that other country leaders are any different? And yes, Western leaders.
 

VincentVinturi

Pelican
Gold Member
Rocha said:
With that Avatar how do you want to be taken seriously regarding the subject Vladimir Putin?
You're having a hard time Rochinha.

When your method of trying to discredit somebody's argument is to comment on their avatar and not the substance of their argument, you succeed only in discrediting yourself.

You're Portuguese, aren't you?

By your reasoning you should keep your opinions confined to vinho verde and the poetry of Fernando Pessoa, if you've read it.

And God forbid anybody with an American flag in their avatar ventures an opinion on anything other than American affairs! We just wouldn't be able to take them seriously.

In any case, we're talking about Putin and not my lovely Тризуб.

Try and keep up will ya. :)

Rocha said:
Has Russia ever had a better leader than Putin?

Never.
Ok let's assume that Putin IS in fact the best leader that Russia has ever had.

Does that make him 'good'?

I mean I don't know if you've been paying attention but Russian "leaders" don't have the greatest track record.

They've murdered tens of millions of people in the last century.

So, just because Putin is "better", it does not follow that he is "good".

Rocha said:
The big question remains. Why are always foreigners meddling in Russia's affairs?

The people voted (en masse), the leader was elected. End.
Deal with it. When Trump won everyone cherished with democratic tears. I also cherish with foreign tears regarding Putin, specially American, Jewish and Ukrainian.
Because we play on international stage where everybody's interests are intertwined AND Russia is a nuclear state with a history (recent history included) of violence against innocent people.

Should we just leave North Korea alone because we'd be meddling in their affairs? No, we should probably blow them the fuck up.

What about the mideast? Should we let all of the arab countries' flags be replaced by the black flag of ISIS? No, we should probably go in and slaughter all of those subhumans until there's not a single one left.

I'm all for non-interventionism if countries are playing nice. But if you're invading sovereign lands and doing all other manner of stupid shit, other countries won't just stand by and let you do it.

And isn't Russia in Syria? All this talk of staying out of their affairs is hogwash. Putin was himself a director of meddling in one of the most meddlesome organizations to have ever meddled.

To wit:


If you're such a Russophile why don't you go live there, try to start a business there, try to start a family there, and get some skin in the game?

You're such an expert and jump on Putin's dick at every opportunity. Let's see how much you love him after a few years of living in a real shithole.

It's one thing to visit and superficially enjoy a country, or even live there as an expat. It's another entirely to have deal with their bureaucracy and corruption.

I've been in Thailand on and off for 5+ years and even though it's a corrupt, technically military dictatorship, a foreigner doesn't have exposure to the same problems that a Thai has, and has much more money to pay his way out of fabricated trouble.

I'd never want to live in Thailand as a Thai, or work for a Thai company. From what I've heard it's a nightmare. Thai police always shaking you down, restricted travel abroad because of your citizenship, crap education, and all the rest of it. None of which an expat really has to deal with.

So it's one thing to spout on about your beloved Putin, but another to be his subject and under the thumb of the FSB.
 

Gopnik

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Mercenary said:
You picked some quite obscure and controversial people out of nowhere.
Googling those 2 names brings up a lot of suspicious past actions (just 1 example here) and a dubious and suspicious family history, and I'm not surprised they fled Russia.

Care to explain why you name dropped these 2 people ?
Firestone was a member of the American chamber of commerce in Russia and together with Browder they got the Magnitsky act approved (which should serve as a framework to stop corrupt officials from other 3rd world shitholes from investing their blood money in the west). As a response, Russia passed the Dima Yakovlev Law, banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans, which got a lot of media coverage, I wouldn't say they are particularly obscure.

They both appear in Pomerantsev's book, which I previously mentioned. Another member correctly pointed out to Pomerantsev being connected to war-thirsty neocons. I wouldn't completely rule out his book though.

Mark Ames (one of the authors of The Exile) did a post about Pomerantsev and his neocon links:

https://pando.com/2015/05/17/neocons-2-0-the-problem-with-peter-pomerantsev/

One final thing I wanted to add, is that much of the discussion about Navalny being a western puppet is based on speculations.

It's the equivalent of the western media labelling Trump or Nigel Farage as kremlin puppets. A big nothing burger.
 

Handsome Creepy Eel

Owl
Gold Member
VincentVinturi said:
Rocha said:
With that Avatar how do you want to be taken seriously regarding the subject Vladimir Putin?
You're Portuguese, aren't you?
...
If you're such a Russophile why don't you go live there, try to start a business there, try to start a family there, and get some skin in the game?

You're such an expert and jump on Putin's dick at every opportunity. Let's see how much you love him after a few years of living in a real shithole.

It's one thing to visit and superficially enjoy a country, or even live there as an expat. It's another entirely to have deal with their bureaucracy and corruption.

I've been in Thailand on and off for 5+ years and even though it's a corrupt, technically military dictatorship, a foreigner doesn't have exposure to the same problems that a Thai has, and has much more money to pay his way out of fabricated trouble.

I'd never want to live in Thailand as a Thai, or work for a Thai company. From what I've heard it's a nightmare. Thai police always shaking you down, restricted travel abroad because of your citizenship, crap education, and all the rest of it. None of which an expat really has to deal with.

So it's one thing to spout on about your beloved Putin, but another to be his subject and under the thumb of the FSB.
In all fairness, Portugal is also famous for petty corruption, nightmarish bureaucracy and so on, but is EU-cucked (TM) to boot on top of all that. I don't imagine a Portugese person would be so shocked by the downgraded "real shithole" life in Russia, but they would find its women and culture a refreshing upgrade for sure.

No offense meant, Rocha :D
 

AManLikePutin

Kingfisher
The reason a lot of us here, who of course aren't Russian citizens, support Putin is more about his extremely important international stand in the grand politics chess board to provide a strategic balance to the rampant neocon/globalist plan. I am in no doubt, that if I was a Russian citizen living there, I'd consider a lot lot more factors into whether I want being ruled by Vladimir Putin than as an outsider who's been to Russia for a grand total of 2 weeks in my life (going back again this summer and now with much improved language skill, look forward to talk more to locals about such issues, especially to see if there's been a change of mood since 2015).

It's the same way that many people in the Politics forum defend Iran's gov't...while they would never want to live under its theocracy. To the outsider, Iran's gov't solely purpose is to piss the hell off Israel and Saudi Arabia, and maintains a power balance in Mid.East ... As someone with skin in the game there, my view is of course different and while I see some good they're doing internationally, I know the gov't is an absolute tyranny and full on murderous dictatorship domestically.

Not comparing IR to Putin by anymeans, just trying to exaplain why outsiders can view and rate a ruling gov't/regime differently than insiders. Even Putin's biggest enemies like Khodorovsky, Kasparov, Browder can testify he's improved an average Russian's life and hopes (but perhaps maybe not as much as he/someone else could have they claim.) One can't say anything close to that re: Iran post 1979 for example. Everything has gone backwards.

Anyways, 2 very interesting articles about how West' full-on bombardment and ruthless character assassination of Putin, has actually made him a lot more popular internally. Good reads.


Western leaders and opinion formers believed sanctions and economic pressure would encourage Russians to turn against Vladimir Putin. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
If you’re not Russian, you probably haven’t heard of Aleksey Pushkov. He’s an influential academic, politician, and media personality who once ran the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Duma (the lower house of the parliament) and is widely considered to be close to the Kremlin.

In the early hours of Monday morning, as the extent of Vladimir Putin’s latest presidential victory became clear, he took to Twitter to make a very important point: “western demonization of Putin inspires the opposite effect in Russia. Instead, citizens rally around him. And the election results confirm this.”

Pushkov is correct. Because Putin’s latest landslide was partially made in the West.

Slowing Tide
To understand why, we need to rewind the clock to 2011. Back then, on the surface at least, Russia was doing well economically. The ruble was trading around 30 to the US dollar and the price of oil was high. While the country’s reliance on the latter resource was always a poor long-term strategy, it provided easy money. And this meant Russians could afford to travel to places, and buy imported products, which Soviet citizens could only have dreamed of, two decades earlier.

Despite this, a considerable amount of people weren’t happy. And when the sitting president, Dmitry Medvedev, announced in September that he was stepping aside to support Putin’s (who was serving as prime minister) return to the Kremlin, anger grew in some sections of society, especially the pro-business and liberal factions. You see, for them, Medvedev represented the promise of liberalization and westernization, and the return of Putin was seen as a step backwards towards nationalism, conservatism, and even authoritarianism.

In December, the Duma election took place, with United Russia, the party associated with Putin and Medvedev, failing to win a majority of the vote. Some alleged the contest had been falsified and the party’s real share was even smaller.

As a result, protests kicked off, largely centered in Moscow. But there were also demonstrations in many provincial cities, including Khabarovsk, more than 8,000km from Moscow, where I resided at the time.

At this moment, one thing was very clear: many Russians sought a new sense of identity, and the various post-Soviet factions were heading for a showdown. One which took place over the following months.

In December, the Western media had decided to christen the unrest as the ‘Snow Revolution’, a meme which conjured memories of similar events in Ukraine and Georgia, labelled ‘Orange’ and ‘Rose’ respectively.

And this was a serious error because Russians weren’t looking for the overthrow of their state. And, at least in the heartland, many feared a return to the anarchy of the 1990s. Thus, while certain capital city circles sizzled with talk of revolution, where I was living, people seemed horrified by the very idea. “This is the rich Moscow elite marching, these guys have nothing in common with me,” was a typical statement. While others seemed to think the protestors were ungrateful, because, after all, their very prosperity was mostly down to Putin, who had inherited a basket case economy in 2000 and greatly improved living standards.

Nevertheless, things became very tense for a while, with no less a figure than Mikhail Gorbachev publicly calling for Putin to resign. Of course, Putin didn’t heed Gorby’s call. Instead, he continued his presidential campaign and in March 2012, won handsomely, with a score of 63% nationally, but only 46% in Moscow.

Mixed Signals
Now, this is where I need to explain something: the 2011/12 protests were, more or less, a “big smoke” phenomenon. And it explains why Western media correspondents, who are all based in Moscow and have little understanding of the rest of Russia, beyond its occasional novelty value, made their readers and viewers believe something substantial was stirring when the reality was less dramatic. Because, in a place like Khabarovsk, the movement gained no traction beyond a bit of muttering in cafes and between close family and friends.

Putin realized this and learned a lesson. In his first two terms, he’d probably spent too much time worrying about the Moscow elite. From now on, he was going to focus on his base, the ordinary folk who keep Russia working. And little did he know at the time, but the West was about to lend a helping hand.

The Kremlin believed Hillary Clinton had interfered in Russia’s 2011/12 unrest, but her influence was limited, even if Putin’s team regarded it as a betrayal. However, America’s behavior in Ukraine in 2013/14 was another matter entirely. This was the US openly intervening in street protests in Russia’s neighbor and Clinton’s former assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, was leading the charge – eventually even going so far as choosing a new government in the aftermath.

For Russians, it was incredible. Ukraine, home to entire regions where ethnic Russians constitute a significant majority, was, as they saw it, being destabilized in a Western-backed coup. Something which meant that Crimea, part of Russia for hundreds of years until Nikita Khrushchev signed it away in the 1950s, could have feasibly wound up housing NATO bases.

Thus, when Putin decided to reabsorb the peninsula in the spring of 2014, his popularity ratings reached unprecedented levels. Because Russians believed the West had betrayed them. And, since then, the EU and the US have played into his hands.

Wide Awake
Russians are fully aware of Western scaremongering about their country and the demonization of their president. They see it on news sites, across social media, and on TV. And the ones who can’t understand English can even read Russian translations of the Western press on a dedicated website, Inosmi (which, incidentally, is state funded). Furthermore, in addition to the constant barrage of media delirium, the NATO countries’ sanctions policy has created a besieged fortress mentality in Russia.

Indeed, Andrey Kondrashov, Putin's campaign spokesman, summed this up on Sunday night. “Turnout is higher than we expected, by about 8-10 percent, for which we must say thanks to Great Britain,” he said with tongue surely in cheek, referring to the fallout from a spy poisoning drama in the UK. “We were pressured exactly at the moment when we needed to mobilize [voters]. Whenever Russia is accused of something indiscriminately and without any evidence, the Russian people unite around the center of power. And the center of power is certainly Putin today.”

In 2012, Putin was under pressure in Moscow, but this weekend he secured over 70% of the vote in the capital. And in St. Petersburg, where he managed 58% six years ago, he can now boast a 75% score. And it has happened at a time when Russians have endured a deep recession, with falling real wages, during a painful, but necessary, economic restructuring after the previous resource-driven model exhausted itself.

Today, even liberal, educated, and cosmopolitan dwellers of the two big cities generally support the status of Crimea and now resent the West for its anti-Russia hysteria. Whereas in 2011-12, many saw the US as a country to aspire to, now they are disappointed with Washington and believe the US to be fundamentally opposed to respecting any of Russia’s vital interests.

Thus, ironically, a Western policy aimed at weakening Putin and reducing Russian resolve has completely backfired. Eighteen years after he first entered the Kremlin, the president’s position has never been stronger, or more secure. And he can thank the dysfunctional and self-destructive policy of the United States and the European Union. A lot of which is influenced by too much reliance on “Russia experts” who don’t really understand the country at all. And it shows.

Also this one:
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-21/rt-editor-chief-explains-why-we-dont-respect-west-anymore

Essentially, the West should be horrified not because 76% of Russians voted for Putin, but because this elections have demonstrated that 95% of Russia’s population supports conservative-patriotic, communist and nationalist ideas. That means that liberal ideas are barely surviving among measly 5% of population.

And that’s your fault, my Western friends. It was you who pushed us into “Russians never surrender” mode.

I’ve been telling you for a long time to find normal advisers on Russia.

Sack all those parasites.

With their short-sighted sanctions, heartless humiliation of our athletes (including athletes with disabilities ), with their “skripals” and ostentatious disregard of the most basic liberal values, like a presumption of innocence, that they manage to hypocritically combined with forcible imposition of ultra-liberal ideas in their own countries, their epileptic mass hysteria, causing in a healthy person a sigh of relief that he lives in Russia, and not in Hollywood, with their post-electoral mess in the United States, in Germany, and in the Brexit-zone; with their attacks on RT, which they cannot forgive for taking advantage of the freedom of speech and showing to the world how to use it, and it turned out that the freedom of speech never was intended to be used for good, but was invented as an object of beauty, like some sort of crystal mop that shines from afar, but is not suitable to clean your stables, with all your injustice and cruelty, inquisitorial hypocrisy and lies you forced us to stop respecting you. You and your so called “values.”

We don’t want to live like you live, anymore. For fifty years, secretly and openly, we wanted to live like you, but not any longer.

We have no more respect for you, and for those amongst us that you support, and for all those people who support you.

That’s how this 5% came to be.

For that you only have yourself to blame. And also your Western politicians and analysts, newsmakers and scouts.

Our people are capable to forgive a lot. But we don’t forgive arrogance, and no normal nation would.

Your only remaining Empire would be wise to learn history of its allies, all of them are former empires. To learn the ways they lost their empires. Only because of their arrogance.

White man’s burden, my ass (in English in the original text – trans.)

But the only Empire, you have left, ignores history, it doesn’t teach it and refuses to learn it, meaning that it all will end the way it always does, in such cases.

In meantime, you’ve pushed us to rally around your enemy. Immediately, after you declared him an enemy, we united around him.

Before, he was just our President, who could be reelected. Now, he has become our Leader. We won’t let you change this. And it was you, who created this situation.

It was you who imposed an opposition between patriotism and liberalism. Although, they shouldn’t be mutually exclusive notions. This false dilemma, created by you, made us to chose patriotism.

Even though, many of us are really liberals, myself included.

Get cleaned up, now. You don’t have much time left.
 

Beirut

Pelican
^ Very good post.

As a middle eastern Christian, i dont exactly admire Hezballah's religious or political views. Nor am i a fan of Iran theocracy. And i dont want russians to live under the mercy of rich fat oligarchs.

But, when the other side pretty much finances ISIS and Qaeda and stands by while his creations massacre and exile millions of christians, and when the socalled western christians are hell bent on destroying their own people and mine for the sake of Israel and to protect their puppet Saudis, there isnt much choice left.

And anyway, what alternatives do they offer to those who are in iran, shiites and russians?

We saw their aftermath in Libya.

We saw their allies in Yeltsin. They werent exactly lining up to make Russia prosperous then.



Like i always say, this isnt a region of black and whites. Its a region of shades of grey. And one side is much lighter than the other.


On the other hand, since i live in a corrupted state, its very difficult to change a corrupted state WHEN YOU ARE THE TARGET OF OTHER STRONGER ONES.

Im not saying Putin wants or doesnt to clean up Russia, or if he could, or Bashar, but lets say for example you are Bashar in 2010 and you want to have democracy all of a sudden. You sheepishly introduce democracy and who is the only organized party there? The islamists. Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour in billions of dollars for them to run an election in a poor country. Theyre gonna win.

In Russia as well, when you inherit a corrupted state, every big head in it has his people and the power balance is very delicate. If you piss off too many of these big heads, they take their people and they go to the USA and Europe and say "ok we will help you get rid of Putin". So what you do is bring as many of them as you have to to your side.

Now if you are a one man led state AND OTHER NATIONS BACK OFF, a powerful ruler can make many changes for the good. But when any weakness or crack will see world powers pouring in to fuck you over, you cant afford the risk.
 

Mage

 
PharaohRa said:
I hope Comrade Putin rules for another 20 years. He is doing good things for Mother Russia!
Why do English speakers love the phrase "Mother Russia " so much? Real Russians don't use this phrase nearly as often as English speakers trying to show some Russian sentiment do.


Real Rusians usually say отециство which means "Fatherland".

A common feminine way to refer to Russia by Russians would be Родина-мать which means "Birthplace - mother"

Mother Russia is not a common Russian expression, stop using it in English it sounds rather ignorant.
 
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