Mon May 7, 2012, 08:01 AM
pinto (97,897 posts)
Putin inauguration: World view of a Russian feeling dissed (CS Monitor)
Really good background piece on the life & times of Putin, Russia ~ pinto
Putin inauguration: World view of a Russian feeling dissed
As the second presidential inauguration of Vladimir Putin approaches, a former correspondent who once worked for him looks at the world view of the Russian iron man. His theory: The president is feeling dissed by the West and believes it conspires to "destroy" Russia.
By Angus Roxburgh, Contributor / May 6, 2012
My first memory of Vladimir Putin – if you can call it a memory – goes back to late 1991, just a month before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when I caught sight of him, without knowing who he was, of course, in St. Petersburg. I was making a series of reports for the BBC in the city, which had just been given its original name back, after 67 years as "Leningrad." As we filmed a meeting between the mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, and a visiting British politician, a small, fair-haired man flitted anonymously in the background.
Rewatching the footage 20 years later, I recognize the features: soft, thin hair parted to one side; glassy eyes; and protruding lips. He walks with his head pressed forward and an aggressive gait, rolling slightly from side to side. This is Mr. Putin at 39, recently returned from a five-year posting as a spy in East Germany and now head of the city's "external relations committee." He is unobtrusive and slightly nervous, just as you would expect from a man used to living in the shadows. He fingers his chin self-consciously, knowing a Western TV camera is pointed at him – possibly for the first time in his life.
In the communist system, all agricultural produce was brought to an enormous central area, to be sorted and transported to the city's shops. Don't imagine a Western-style fruit distribution center, where apples and oranges are individually wrapped in tissue and packed into shock-resistant boxes, then whisked out to retail stores. In a system devoid of incentives, almost all the produce went to waste. Workers were fishing through crates of potatoes that had already turned into a stinking black mush, picking out the few that could be salvaged and tossing them into another crate. Eventually a few of them might have reached a shop, and some might even have been sold and eaten.
Putin's task was to arrange emergency food supplies from the West. It was a job that, I think, had two profound effects on the future Russian leader and may still shape who he is today as he's about to assume the presidency for another six years as one of the country's most enduring, enigmatic, and controversial rulers in modern history.
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Putin inauguration: World view of a Russian feeling dissed (CS Monitor) (Original post)
Response to pinto (Original post)
Mon May 7, 2012, 11:09 AM
bemildred (67,518 posts)
1. I find this analysis unsatisfying.
Putin is not hard to understand, he is a Russian nationalist of the old school, and a smart cooklie, who knows well how to play the modern political game, and we underestimate him at our peril.
The piece is not all bad, but is shows the presence of Washington Consensus blinders
Response to bemildred (Reply #1)
Mon May 7, 2012, 04:58 PM
pinto (97,897 posts)
2. I thought it was a pretty balanced, knowledgeable look. Author notes his nationalist POV.
And his game playing in international politics. Though it's not explicit, I think the author makes the same point - we underestimate him.