Putins Russia

#1
It is a article that is worth a read I think it is insightful as to what is happening in Russia today. I put in quotes certain things that I thought stood out in the article.
http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2006/0707nj1.htm


A Russian businessman once offered me his view of the Russian national character. It went like this: "Russians are like small children. Generally they are sweet and lovable and innocent -- but now and then, without warning, without provocation, without any discernable reason, they bite you on the neck. Don't even ask them to explain why -- they would have no idea themselves; the question would be meaningless." He chuckled. "Yes, they've done this to me," he admitted
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Whether Russians lend themselves to such essentialist interpretations is beside the point -- the point is, Russians feel themselves to be something quite distinct. And such sentiments create a hard reality of their own.

And whenever Russia feels cocky, Westerners get alarmed. Even cosmopolitan Western liberals, who pride themselves on their receptiveness to other cultures, tend to view a powerful Russia with a certain primitive fear. "In dealing with the Russians," the U.S. scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer said in a 1951 speech, early in the Cold War, "we are coping with a barbarous, backward people who are hardly loyal to their own rulers." Nobody likes to be called backward, but this staple image, of the "wild Russian," is one in which many Russians -- men and women -- actually take some delight. The Russians are, after all, the people that neither Napoleon nor Hitler could conquer

Putin's Russia" is not the construction or possession of its autocratic leader -- in fact, an important reason for his steady 70 percent approval rating, six years into his reign, is his knack for aligning himself with ground-level currents that are not of his fashioning. Nor is this emerging edifice original -- it is, rather, a society's willful return to old architectural patterns, in shades largely of White. "It's a revival of Russian identity," an aide to the president told me in an interview at the Kremlin. "This is not something new," the aide said of the features of today's Russia, "because we carry the genes of our whole Russian history."

The Re-Whitening Of Russia
In microcosm, the resurgence of the Don Cossacks speaks to an age-old problem in sprawling Russia -- the problem of order. Today's Russia -- threatened by Islamic militancy on its southern borders (the Chechen rebellion still simmers) and by drug traffickers, skinhead youth gangs, an AIDS epidemic, a declining population, and large remaining pockets of rural and urban poverty -- fears, as Russia always has feared, social fragmentation


Today's Russia, under Putin, is in a period of "post-revolution stabilization," Gaidar said, and this period could last "one generation." (By "revolution," Gaidar means the shift from Soviet central planning to a market economy.) "Stabilization" is a rather antiseptic term -- other disenchanted liberals speak darkly of the "re-Sovietization" of society. "It's not Soviet at all," Gaidar firmly countered. "It's Russian. Those who now say it is the Soviet Union probably do not remember the Soviet Union."

The Putin team is control-oriented -- but Russian regimes, not just Soviet ones, typically are. Putin's inner circle, in any case, is not a bunch of KGB clones. The Karl Rove-type figure, political adviser Vladislav Surkov, is a self-educated half-Chechen who despises Communists, previously worked in the business sector, and keeps in his office books by the seminal Russian historian Nikolay Karamzin, the court biographer of Czar Alexander I. Chief of Staff Sergei Sobyanin, a possible successor to Putin in 2008, is a former governor of an oil-rich Siberian province and has no KGB past at all, according to a knowledgeable Kremlin source

Anti-Americanism, or what is better described as America-phobia, bubbles up from a variety of fertile sources. The main one is a fear that America is bent on world domination, including mastery of Russia. This is not merely the stuff of ragtag pamphleteering. A typical bookstore offering, "America Against Russia: Why America Is Attacking," is the work of a well-respected Moscow-based writer, Andrei Parshev. Few Russians accept at face value the idea that the U.S. is genuinely interested in spreading democracy around the world -- they tend to believe, as Parshev argues, that America's thrusts into the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, so close to Mother Russia's soft southern underbelly, are an effort to lock up scarce energy resources.

In part, America-phobia is a result of Russia's post-Soviet-collapse sense of weakness, a feeling exacerbated, even U.S.-friendly Russians say, by American foreign policies over the past decade. In an interview in Moscow, the liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky lectured me about Washington's shortsighted policies, including its successful push for NATO expansion into former Soviet (and Russian Empire) territories. A reckless America -- the America that invaded Iraq -- is a gift to nationalist-agenda rabble-rousers, in Russia and elsewhere, who can now plausibly clamor for the need to protect against the American beast, Yavlinsky warned.

This view probably overstates America's role as a stimulator of Russian chauvinism. After all, Russia doesn't need much of a jolt: The country has seldom known any imperative other than a push for expansion -- and a push back against enemies bent on conquest. But Yavlinsky is on the mark in seeing anti-Western, and particularly anti-American, sentiments as part of a larger ideology -- a populist Russian nationalism -- embraced by leading political figures
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For Rogozin, the story of the post-Soviet years is a tale of betrayal, twice over, first by the Gaidar-ilk liberals of the early 1990s and now by the Putin team. The liberals, with their privatization schemes that made billionaires of a few Russians, are "thieves," he said, and those in the Putin crowd are basically phony patriots, not the real article. The regime, he explained, is propping up a corrupt political and business elite who keep their money in foreign banks and educate their sons and daughters abroad. The Kremlin spends its political resources on manipulative games to keep a genuine nationalist movement from assuming power.

Rogozin's own agenda features "reunion." There should be "no strength methods," he said matter-of-factly, if not all that convincingly, but "Russians have the same right to reunite as did East and West Germans." He won't push the point of the Baltics -- there is a large Russian minority living in Latvia, a NATO member. But his plan for a "unified" Greater Russian state would fold in today's Russia (still the world's biggest country, by territory) along with Belarus and Ukraine on its East European borders and oil-rich Kazakhstan, which has a substantial Russian population, on its Central Asia border. This entity would be like the European Union but stronger, with one currency and the same foreign and defense policies, he said.

I asked Rogozin whether Americans and Europeans should fear Russian "reunion." "With America, there is only one possible clash -- if America tries to hinder Russia's natural revival," he answered. But in the main, America and Europe "should be afraid of chaos in a country like Russia," he said. "What I am talking about will promote consolidation. What now threatens Russia is mass poverty, social imbalances, and Islamic fundamentalism -- and the consolidation of Slavic nations will help Europe confront such threats."
Putin is embracing this Russia, Old Russia. And Old Russia, for the most part, is returning the embrace. But in this mutual admiration is a recipe not so much for change as for a return to tradition. Putin is finding, and the West could profit from remembering, that this is a nation that tends to bend even its rulers to its own insistent flow
 
#2
I've spent some time in Russia and a few years 'escorting' Russian businessmen, doctors, scientists, engineers, etc. throughout the US. I think he's overstated some of the drive towards 'Russianess' although it is there and they are proud of their heritage.

Most Russians I met tend to be schizophrenic about the US; they admire a lot of our economic strengths, some aspects of our democracy and culture, our technology and science and interestingly almost every Russian I've ever met thinks Bill Gates is a genious. But many of them, including one guy and his wife who I lived with in Russia and were very educated--they reserached something to do with brain chemistry--thinks the fall of the Soviet Union was planned and carried out by the US. Cultural imperialism is a big complaint as well, the girl I was dating at the time was adament about American culture being aggresively exported throughout the world. The same girl loved Madonna, Calvin Klein clothing and cried when we watched Titanic on a locally pirated VHS tape. Go figure.
 
#3
Virgil said:
But many of them, including one guy and his wife who I lived with in Russia and were very educated--they reserached something to do with brain chemistry--thinks the fall of the Soviet Union was planned and carried out by the US.
Uh, not to sound sarcastic or anything but wasn't that the whole point of the Cold War? The West planned and did as much as possible to try and cripple the USSR. Creating their own little Vietnam in Afghanistan by arming the Taliban, dumping so much money into the military-industrial complex that they have to try and match it or risk having their stuff become obsolete thus helping contribute finishing off their already creaking economy etc. Or did they mean something else more extreme?
 
#4
The Russians is a people like many others. Not good, not bad. Right expression -'as is'. Though it is true that Russians are more lazy that many others, more naive, more sentimental, less practical and of course drink too much.

PS. Our women are the best.
 
#5
KGB_resident said:
The Russians is a people like many others. Not good, not bad. Right expression -'as is'. Though it is true that Russians are more lazy that many others, more naive, more sentimental, less practical and of course drink too much.

PS. Our women are the best.
Don't be too hard on yourselves, Sergey. I, for one, have always admired the Russian people. You're survivors.
As a young man coming of age during the cold war, I was taught to see the Russians as enemies, an Evil Empire bent on world domination. As I grew to maturity and began to learn more about the world around me, I began to see just how resilient you are, considering what you've had to deal with in you're history (27 million dead in ww2 alone). But the Russian people simply shrug and carry on. I wonder if my own people would be so strong.

PS: send a few of those women my way!
 
#6
Brick said:
Virgil said:
But many of them, including one guy and his wife who I lived with in Russia and were very educated--they reserached something to do with brain chemistry--thinks the fall of the Soviet Union was planned and carried out by the US.
Uh, not to sound sarcastic or anything but wasn't that the whole point of the Cold War? The West planned and did as much as possible to try and cripple the USSR. Creating their own little Vietnam in Afghanistan by arming the Taliban, dumping so much money into the military-industrial complex that they have to try and match it or risk having their stuff become obsolete thus helping contribute finishing off their already creaking economy etc. Or did they mean something else more extreme?

They were hinting at something more--well frankly I could never quite bring it out clearly from them--involving internal affairs in the SU by US agents.

As a side note I don't believe that those things you've mentioned brought about the fall of the Soviet Union. They only accelerated a process that was inevitable, made more so especially after Breshnev and his bunch of cronies took over.
 
#7
KGB_resident said:
The Russians is a people like many others. Not good, not bad. Right expression -'as is'. Though it is true that Russians are more lazy that many others, more naive, more sentimental, less practical and of course drink too much.

PS. Our women are the best.
There was a joke among the US expat community in Moscow that the loneliest people in Russia are American women. With so many good looking local women around neither Russian or American men wanted anything to do with them.

Russian can drink a lot, it's very impressive and sometimes disturbing, but nobody gets drunker than Finns on vacation in St Petersburg. Nobody. Even locals joke about it, anytime Russians make fun of your drinking habits you know you've got a problem.
 

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