Saturday, March 03, 2007

Is Putin An Up And Coming Dictator? Absolutely!

Ah, Mother Russia. What a beautiful and thriving democracy! Two stories; First:

[Paul Joyal] has also been a long-time critic of the the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The shooting came four days after he told "Dateline NBC" that he believes the Russian government was involved in the fatal poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Police clubbed protesters and dragged them into waiting buses on Saturday in response to a defiant demonstration against the Kremlin in the heart of President Vladimir Putin's hometown.

Several thousand [...people...] marched down St. Petersburg's main avenue to protest what they said was Russia's roll back from democracy.
God, Putin scares me. As Krauthammer notes:
Nonetheless, Putin's aggressiveness does not signal a return to the Cold War. He is too clever to be burdened by the absurdity of socialist economics or Marxist politics. He is blissfully free of ideology, political philosophy and economic theory. There is no existential dispute with the United States.

He is a more modest man: a mere mafia don, seizing the economic resources and political power of a country for himself and his mostly KGB cronies. And promoting his vision of the Russian national interest — assertive and expansionist — by engaging in diplomacy that challenges the dominant power in order to boost his own.
Putin is well on his way to being a dictator. There is no doubt in my mind that he is just a common criminal who would have no problems returning to the days of the gulags.

A while back Micahel Ladeen wrote a great article, "The Kremlin Murders," that showed how Putin has basically passed laws making it legal for him to have his critics assassinated. And there have been many possible victims of Putin's insecurities, including:
  • Alexander Litvinenko - The anti-Putin journalist who was recently poisoned with the rare radioactive material, polonium.
  • Victor Yushchenko - Ukrainian Presidential candidate who campaigned against Russia, and paid for it by being mysteriously poisoned. He is now President of Ukraine, but has been permanently disfigured by the mystery poison.
  • Paul Klebnikov - An anti-Putin journalist from Forbes who was mysteriously gunned down.
  • Anna Politkovskaya - A friend of Litvinenko's, she did some damning reporting on Russia's activities in Chechnya, and paid for it with her life. She was gunned down in her apartment on Putin's birthday.
Those are the few that come to mind. Putin silences his enemies, there's no doubt about that.

I worry every time I hear a story about Russia in the news. It's never good, and they're almost always a sign of bad things to come. There's Putin threatening to pull out of the nuclear arms control treaty, Putin trash talking the US (the first step to becoming a dictator is to create external enemies), Russia's selling weapons to rouge regimes (like their selling of some 29 "Tor M-1 missiles" to Iran, missiles that could be used to kill Americans or our allies), or Putin's using his nation's oil exports as a "substitute for diplomatic policy" (in other words, blackmailing the EU by denying them oil).

So, the next time you're listing off the world's up-and-coming dictators, don't forget to save a spot on your list for Putin:

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