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A scary dude
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-11-26 09:26:12
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I often think that my life in Finland has made me always look at Russia’s side with concern. Finns are like this, they never trusted their gigantic neighbour, always suspicious, always mistrusting them; so after living here for as long I have you start to …see things. And then from the other side you get Putin; as a Finn friend of mine has well put it, a scary dude!

In south Europe there is somebody who writes books about aliens and he’s often referring to Putin as their leader. The man who came from outer space to take over earth; and then there are Christians who strongly believe that the man is the anti-Christ, stamped with 666 on his forehead. The truth is that the man is at the crossroads of everything and is also the combination of everything - everything Russian I mean.

He's a former KGB employee, or better officer, a former party member – how else could he be a KGB member – and he's the heir of the most eccentric capitalist on earth, Yeltsin; the man who often acted in a Machiavellian way like an old-fashioned Tsar and other times he reminded me of Rasputin. He's the man of mystery and the unexpected, yet he is the man that the majority of Russians like as a leader not because they love him - they loved Yeltsin but he was the worst leader as it was later proven – but there is no other alternative.

Russians and their politics in some ways remind me of football fans. They used to have the super team that used to take all the trophies and suddenly from one day to the other the coach and the players changed, the tactics changed and the team doesn’t get anything more. Instead of wishing to improve the team, train the players, learn the game better they are looking for the coach who will give them back the old glamour. Putin is this man and that’s why the Russians want him as a leader.

The man didn’t stop corruption, he controls corruption! The man didn’t improve the life of the average Russian, he told them that if they want their life to be improved they must suffer, but most of all he told them that they will suffer and in the end they are going to see the great Russia rise again and that’s exactly what the people wanted to hear. They want their trophies back. They want to be feared. They want to feel a superpower, in control, again.

Ask the Hungarians, the Polish and the Estonians, how was it when the Russians were in their country. Putin is giving them this feeling again. The Russians loved it when Putin put Georgia and Ukraine in the corner strangling them by cutting off the natural gas supply and they didn’t care how dirty or low were the tricks he used; it caused fear, they were great again.

Living in Finland I have often had the chance to talk with Russians, Russians from all areas of society and education; my surprise has been that all of them, one way or another, give you the sense of a nationalism, of a reborn national identity. What gives, at least to me, the biggest surprise is that despite the fact that all of them hate the communist era and they are referring to it in the worst possible way, literally all of them want to see Russia become the same great – as they call it – nation it was during that era! Oxymoron definitely, still it is the Russian reality and Putin is the man to do that and somehow be himself the quintessence of the whole thing; him, his choices and his actions.

The Russian constitution stops him from being a candidate for the Presidential seat for the third consecutive time, so what he’s doing? He is becoming the only candidate for the Prime Minister’s position. The fact that the president - according to the Russian political system - decides who becomes Prime Minister doesn’t bother him at all. The big man has planned everything perfectly, a puppet president for one term with him as a Prime Minister exercising the real power behind the Kremlin Walls and then after four years the … scary dude is back for another eight years!

Here we must not forget some details: Mr. Putin controls the second biggest nuclear and conventional army in the world, he definitely controls the WMD, including gas and virus weapons, he has gradually created a small private army loyal only to him and he has invested a lot in a new generation of Putin-fanatics, a youth military trained in special camps, which is something that brings dark memories. The man is definitely one scary dude.

His opposition in Russia is nearly non existent and the only ones who have really opposed him have been reporters who have, one way or another, either disappeared or been mysteriously killed. Please don’t forget and we must emphasize that the people might not exactly love him but he has the support of more than 80% of the Russian population. So what’s his problem with that tiny 20%? Why does he try so hard to silence them, imprison them and see them disappear from the face of his new Russia?

He should keep them at least to give him a democratic window, but not Emperor Putin. Gary Kasparov, the former chess grandmaster in prison, Boris Nemtsov is in prison and 150 people were taken to prison in Saint Petersburg, which makes you wonder if he is clearing the field before next year’s elections? And is he cleaning what? He is going to win one way or another, he has the perfect plan and his timing with the Russian people is perfect, so what is he after?

As I said, I have this Finnish friend that says that Putin is a scary dude, what is left for me to ask is if this scary dude is a crazy dude as well?

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Eero Nevalainen2007-11-29 14:07:29
Glad to see you recognize the same creepiness about the Russian superpower desires that Finns have -- for the past 1000 years or so. One of the weird features of Russians is indeed the strange feelings of entitlement to some kind of "greatness" that just seems to come out of kicking others around, instead of working honestly to improve their country. And if you question their right to it, you're anti-Russian.

Actually, Czarist Russia wasn't all that bad for a hundred or so years, but then they got all panslavist on us, and the USSR just continued the good old Russian imperialist tradition -- it was nothing new really. And now the new Russians keep up at it.

The other day I was wondering about Putin.. he doesn't come across as stupid -- quite the contrary, and I tend to believe he is sincerely a patriot and not just after personal glory. Then why is he making all the mistakes of a totalitarian dictator drunk on power when he would be in an unbelievably strong position purely democratically speaking, and would be able to indeed bring order and stability (which Russia seriously needed after the disaster of the 90s) like nobody else?

If I were Putin I would not be wasting my political capital on petty idiocies like arresting Kasparov. He's genuinely popular, genuinely intelligent, has genuine, real influence, and if he played his cards right, he'd be remembered as the guy who built modern Russia from the ashes. That's more than anyone could ask for.

But no, instead he's focusing on ensuring total domination in the Duma, while a majority would be a piece of cake and opposition could do nothing but bark on the sidelines...

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