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Hail the Czar who will reunite the Soviets!
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-12-12 07:42:29
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The last few weeks the increasing tense in Europe has kept us away from what is going on in the EU boarders and with the only European country that can compete Europe’s Union as equal.  And of course it is Russia and of course it’s all about Vladimir Putin. Putin announced officially his candidacy for the president’s seat but the same time his party came out seriously wounded from the last parliament elections. But what his candidacy means and how the results of the parliamentary elections influence his decision or his future plans this is a totally different issue.

Russia is a very peculiar case and it will be naive and simplifying if you try to understand this nation either by generalizing or comparing for example with other East European and former soviet democracies like Poland or Hungary. First of all Russia was not a member, was the dominant, the ruler and as a nation was a ruler in two continents for centuries. A country with long history, culture and the self confidence these two elements give. And despite what happened the last century the role of the Russian empire in Europe and her involvement as one of the great powers is at least important for the evolution of this continent. If you add to that the last century where for over than seventy years Russia became one of the two superpowers you get the schizophrenic and very unique place Putin rules.

And the man rules the place, not because he was chosen or elected but because he knows how Russia works and he knows how to make things work. The Russians still waking up after 80 years of the soviet regime and unfortunately for them their first encounter with the western democracy was Yeltsin, the man who actually took them out of communism to let them in the hands of the darkest side of capitalism and mafia. So contemporary Russians have a dual memory, a regime that enslave their wants and a regime that stole their wills. The same time it was impossible to exist any kind of state continuation without the bureaucracy the soviet regime had established in every level of the Russian life and the very same bureaucracy still exists and still rules Russia’s every day life. And the ruler of this bureaucracy the last ten years has been Vladimir Putin.

And of course there are those who react, the ones who want democracy not only in the papers but in reality but again the Russian uniqueness makes them a minority. The majority of the Russians feel comfortable with Putin. You see Vladimir gave them back one more important thing Yeltsin stole from them, national dignity; the feeling that they are a superpower however arrogant this might sound. And here in the west we might look at the photos of the few demonstrating in the centre of Moscow hoping that something is changing but in Russia the average people know that Putin first of all fought the mafia and he might have not succeed but he definitely did more than anybody else. People see a leader that can stand alone, say no when necessary, make sure that others hear him and not playing the clown in front of the White House conducting the army band with Bill Clinton laughing next to him. Putin is the combination of the Czar, Brezhnev and Kublai Khan combining Europe with Asia.

And Putin was not relaxing while on Prime Minister’s seat. He was working effectively with the bureaucracy and he was creating a new middle class in Russia totally loyal to him. A middle class that liked their macho, judo, horse riding and tiger hunting leader. Rumours about youth camps with thousands of young Russians swearing in the name of Putin have never fully verified but is common secret that they do exist. Reporters and journalists that lost their jobs – I don’t dare say that they were shot – in a fortnight because they dare criticize the great leader is not news; while media centres bankrupted and vanished in weeks.

And yes nowadays in the west we follow the reaction written in the internet social media but we forget that the real should of Russia doesn’t use the internet, they are still stuck in a pro-internet Russia dreaming the rebirth of an empire and these are the people who vote for Vladimir. So before celebrating his loses in the parliamentary elections we better wait a bit to see the results of the presidential elections.

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Eva2011-12-12 13:36:03
Interesting background piece. I do get the sense with Putin that he's very carefully calculating his every move, waiting patiently for the right moment... like in a game of chess. Or a tiger waiting to pounce on its prey.

Thanos2011-12-12 15:04:19
Funny to mention "tigers"! Stalin (like Hitler) had an obsession with wolves and Vladimir has with tigers. Especially Siberian tigers!!!

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