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A Tsar Is Born
December 19, 2007 6:23 AM   Subscribe

A Tsar Is Born. For his "extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability," Time has announced Vladimir Putin as Person of the Year. Al Gore and J.K. Rowling are runners-up.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Damnit, I thought I was going to repeat.
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:25 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Поезд прибыл вовремя
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:26 AM on December 19, 2007


The 'journalists' at Time are probably just trying to appease Putin and Russia First.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:29 AM on December 19, 2007


Do people outside of dentists' offices still read Time?
posted by DU at 6:31 AM on December 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


In a year when Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize and green became the new red, white and blue; when the combat in Iraq showed signs of cooling but Baghdad's politicians showed no signs of statesmanship

It's like reading science fiction, to read what American magazine editors think happened in the world this year.

Has Time gone downhill lately, or has it always had the same level of intellectual heft as VH-1's "Best Week Ever"?
posted by ibmcginty at 6:32 AM on December 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


At least the trains are runnin' on Time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:34 AM on December 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Поезд прибыл вовремя

Tell me this says "this will wendell"?
posted by JaredSeth at 6:35 AM on December 19, 2007


But Bush told me Putin was a good guy (because he had a cross around his neck).
posted by drezdn at 6:35 AM on December 19, 2007


Also, if Reagan took credit for bringing down communism, does this mean Bush is responsible for bringing it back?
posted by drezdn at 6:36 AM on December 19, 2007 [11 favorites]


It's like reading science fiction, to read what American magazine editors think happened in the world this year

I know! Mr. Splashy Pants doesn't even get a mention!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:41 AM on December 19, 2007


In Soviet Russia, a person of the year is you. In Putin Russia is Putin.
posted by darkripper at 6:43 AM on December 19, 2007


Has Time gone downhill lately, or has it always had the same level of intellectual heft as VH-1's "Best Week Ever"?

[leon]
Always like this.
[/leon]
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:47 AM on December 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


I will say this for Mr. Putin: If the member states of the UN Security Council agreed to a cage match among their leaders, my drachma would be on Putin.
posted by Mister_A at 6:49 AM on December 19, 2007


Erm, what?

Is there some other Vladimir Putin I'm not aware of? One that doesn't rig elections, stir up Orwellian levels of phoney nationalism or "disappear" his enemies?
posted by fatfrank at 6:51 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


no drezdn, but he can claim responsibility for a return to totalitarianism
posted by jmgorman at 6:57 AM on December 19, 2007


Is there some other Vladimir Putin I'm not aware of? One that doesn't rig elections, stir up Orwellian levels of phoney nationalism or "disappear" his enemies?

Person of the Year awards influence, not virtue. Stalin and Bush both won it twice.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:00 AM on December 19, 2007


Seems like it's always necessary to remind people, when Time makes their pronouncement each year, that the Person is chosen for their overall impact on world events -- and not for "goodness" or "benefit" to humanity. Hitler was chosen in 1938, Stalin twice in the decade following that, and Ayatollah Khomeni in 1979. We're not talking Nobel Peace Prize here. You can browse the full list on Wikipedia.
posted by aught at 7:00 AM on December 19, 2007


This is a fantastic article. I love how the guy basically ended up in power through a series of whimsical events. This gives me hope that someday I will rule you all.
posted by fusinski at 7:01 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


At least it's better than that stupid mirror "You" thing.
posted by smackfu at 7:02 AM on December 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


fatfrank Well, I dunno how truthful the "country that was in chaos" bit of the quoted text was, but Putin has definately brought stability to Russia. Things like freedom, fair elections, and so forth aren't exactly "stability" the way Time appears to define the term.

As for Putin and leadership, that I think Time got dead wrong. Putin has rulership down pat, but leadership not so much.

Although, it does make you wonder about Bush... He said, of Putin: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship," [1]

Now, if I wanted to simply be snarky I'd put in a "hur hur, Bush sure is stoopid" type comment here. But I think there's another way to read that. Remember that this is the same Bush who "jokingly" said that things in the USA would be easier if he were a dictator [2]. I think its quite possible that Bush, in his famous soul quote, was perfectly aware of Putin's totalitarian ambitions and approved of those ambitions. Bush, you'll notice, never did say that he thought Putin was dedicated to freedom, only that he was committed to "the best interests of his country", and if Bush thinks dictatorship is good, well it explains a lot, doesn't it?

[1] From the BBC

[2] From CNN's transcripts
posted by sotonohito at 7:08 AM on December 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Damnit, I thought I was going to repeat.

Once is enough as far as my résumé is concerned.
posted by chillmost at 7:08 AM on December 19, 2007


Remind, no. Inform, yes. Don't get Time a lot in the UK...

Thanks for the wiki link - like the fact it was started due to an earlier editorial cock-up
posted by fatfrank at 7:11 AM on December 19, 2007


Ahem

In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: "We will bury you." But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind--too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
- R.R
posted by blue_beetle at 7:20 AM on December 19, 2007


The more things change, the more they stay the same.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:20 AM on December 19, 2007


This reads like Teen Beat Magazine:

No one is born with a stare like Vladimir Putin's. The Russian President's pale blue eyes are so cool, so devoid of emotion that the stare must have begun as an affect, the gesture of someone who understood that power might be achieved by the suppression of ordinary needs, like blinking. The affect is now seamless, which makes talking to the Russian President not just exhausting but often chilling. It's a gaze that says, I'm in charge.

Win a date with Vlad!!!
posted by psmealey at 7:25 AM on December 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Is there some other Vladimir Putin I'm not aware of? One that doesn't rig elections, stir up Orwellian levels of phoney nationalism or "disappear" his enemies?
posted by fatfrank at 9:51 AM on December 19


You have to appreciate how much Time Magazine's editorial board love the concept of a benevolent dictatorship "in theory". Before the 2000 election, they couldn't run enough cover stories about the "Bush Dynasty".

Putin has consolidated his power an authority without mass public executions or overtly racist policies. That qualifies Putin as a "great leader". Never mind the suspicious deaths of opposition journalists, the illegal seizure of property and assets from the industrialists, etc. If you are powerful, don't kill people on television, and aren't a racist, then Time (and Newsweek, and U.S. News) loves you.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:29 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a gaze that says, I'm in charge.

And yet when I do it on the subway, it's a gaze that says, "unobtrusively locate rape horn in purse"
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:30 AM on December 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


Tell me this didn't creep out the whole world.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:31 AM on December 19, 2007


Seems like it's always necessary to remind people, when Time makes their pronouncement each year, that the Person is chosen for their overall impact on world events -- and not for "goodness" or "benefit" to humanity. Hitler was chosen in 1938, Stalin twice in the decade following that, and Ayatollah Khomeni in 1979.

Except since 2001 of course, when Osama did not get it.
And last year too, when they gave it to "You".

It's a joke, and less and less relevant (as Time itself is--slowly dying under the weight of their declining and ancient readership and tepid, old and often false content)
posted by amberglow at 7:32 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I credit the beefcake photos.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:33 AM on December 19, 2007


Seems like it's always necessary to remind people, when Time makes their pronouncement each year, that the Person is chosen for their overall impact on world events -- and not for "goodness" or "benefit" to humanity. Hitler was chosen in 1938, Stalin twice in the decade following that, and Ayatollah Khomeni in 1979.

Yes, except the point here is how Time has itself ignored that for the last few years... "you?" Rudy Giuliani? Einstein for Century? Seriously?

This is actually an acceptable choice from Time this year... but the "runners-up" are silly. Gore's impact on world events were mostly from 2006- he merely got a lot of awards for them this year- and Rowling "shaped the world for better or worse" pretty much the same way American Idol does.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:34 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


More on Time's Klein/FISA lies from Harpers: Salon 1, TIME 0-- ...Not only was the substance of this description factually inaccurate in almost every respect, it was the very core of the piece. Moreover, what Time ran was a shameless mouthing of talking points that had been circulating on Capitol Hill by Republican spinmeisters through the prior week. ... And disappointing as that discovery was, what followed was even worse. Time’s follow-up to the well-deserved criticism has been defensive and its concessions of factual error grudging. And all of this reflects not so much an error on the part of Klein as the Time editors. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:43 AM on December 19, 2007


Has Time gone downhill lately, or has it always had the same level of intellectual heft as VH-1's "Best Week Ever"?

Yeah, it's pretty much punching in the same weight class it always has. I truck this out every year in the Person of the Year thread when someone starts to wonder WTF Time Magazine?!?, so here it is again:

I worked for the Canadian edition of Time awhile back. My editor there once described the house style as "sustained obviousness." (What he meant, I think, was that Time saw its institutional role as being a sort of real-time archive of people and events that define the fat centre of the mainstream.) A subset of this is a sort of pseudo-intellectual awe in the face of raw power.
posted by gompa at 7:43 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes - stability! That all-important quality, so highly valued by the freedom-lovers at Time magazine. I bet they said similar things about Mussolini.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:46 AM on December 19, 2007


I don't think Time realizes how apt the use of "Tsar" is here.
posted by schroedinger at 7:48 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


it should have been Dodd, for being the only Senator to stand up for our laws and Constitution.
posted by amberglow at 7:53 AM on December 19, 2007


Huff Post: ... To which we say a resounding: YAWN. This may be the LAMEST field of nominees ever — and if you don't believe us, just ask Time by way of the most lukewarm, unenthusiastic descriptions to ever run on a website. ...(She says Jintao/China should have gotten it, and it would have been a better choice)
posted by amberglow at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2007


you spelled "star" wrong.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2007


and Rowling "shaped the world for better or worse" pretty much the same way American Idol does.

I dunno. The article makes the argument that Rowling was an incredibly successful purveyor of anti-fundamentalist, anti-totalitarian (I wouldn't go so far as to say libertarian, though someone quoted in the article does) propaganda across multiple generations and cultures - in that her books represent an ethical framework that integrated itself into hearts and minds globally for over a decade. I suspect there's some truth to the statement that the full extent of her influence is as yet incalculable.

American Idol, while definitely successful, doesn't have the same scope, nor does it have the same capability to influence, pandering as it does to already extant desires for fame and success.
posted by Sparx at 7:59 AM on December 19, 2007


Person of the Year awards influence, not virtue. Stalin and Bush both won it twice.

If that were true, then the person of the year for 2001 should have been Osama bin Laden, because nobody did more harm to the world than he did. Instead, Giuliani gets the voted Man of the Year, merely because he's slightly more competent under fire than Bush on 9/11. And because of Time's sugarcoated praise of Giuliani, we almost get saddled with this authoritarian lunatic as president.
posted by jonp72 at 8:04 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And because the uproar over actually giving to the proper person--Osama--would have led them to lose subscribers and advertisers and become a rightwing target.
posted by amberglow at 8:09 AM on December 19, 2007


I suspect there's some truth to the statement that the full extent of her influence is as yet incalculable.
That would mean that Judy Blume and Sid and Marty Krofft's shows and Free to Be You and Me and Norman Lear should have all gotten the honor in the 70s--they were influential too, and Rowling's impact is not at all global--only in the US and UK are they really big deals. Many readers in some countries actually only read bootleg fakes of them and i think they still have never alllowed them in China where over a billion people live.

Reality shows and American Idol-type things actually truly are global and do have a giant impact, but they are part of the "You" thing last year, i think.
posted by amberglow at 8:15 AM on December 19, 2007


But...but...I voted for Mr. Splashy Pants!
posted by briank at 8:29 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


only in the US and UK are they really big deals

I'm not convinced this is the case, though those were definitely the areas of greatest interest. The article mentions translated into 65 languages and how they are being used as far afield as Pakistani schools as understood references. A bit of googling reveals they were lining up in the streets in India. Wikipedia says sold in 93 countries. And the presence of bootleg fakes seems to count more for their influence than against. Harry has been available in China since 2000, and of course bootlegging is a problem there too. I doubt even Judy Blume or Sigmund the Sea Monster have that kind of reach or audience. Idol, for example, is only made in 30 countries.

So I think its arguable. I don't have truly concrete figures to back my assumptions up (and my google-fu has failed), nor sufficient breadth of cultural knowledge to know how closely they were embraced in other cultures. If anyone could dig up Potter sales totals internationally, that could actually be kind of interesting.

I'd be interested to hear what you consider the impact/influence of Idol shows? Certainly they have influenced the shape of reality tv, but I'm not sure that's really a widespread influence in an important sense. Surely influence must be something more than 'awareness of the existence of'.
posted by Sparx at 9:12 AM on December 19, 2007


they occasionally publish some good photojournalism; besides that, they're irrelevant -- and worse, their end-of-the-year thing is just embarrassing now
posted by matteo at 9:13 AM on December 19, 2007


Anyone want to hazard a quess of how much Putin's personal wealth grows each year he spends in power?? I'll guess $25 million.
posted by crowman at 9:20 AM on December 19, 2007


I will say this for Mr. Putin: If the member states of the UN Security Council agreed to a cage match among their leaders, my drachma would be on Putin.

Granted, but 50 motivated five-year-olds could fell them all without breaking a sweat.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:25 AM on December 19, 2007


omg, "stability"? Right, the deadly grip of a psychopath. Maybe a mega-grinch like him was needed to off some of the Russian mafia and put them in their graves?

Putin's pecs.

Hitler was chosen in 1938, Stalin twice in the decade following that, and Ayatollah Khomeni in 1979

yikes. Well Putin is in the right company then.
posted by nickyskye at 9:30 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Agreements of a piece with this Bush quote from the summer of 2001:
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship,"


Dr. George Friedman's book describes the bargain struck between Bush and Putin in September of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, in preparation for a lightning strike on Afghanistan:
While Putin was meeting with his advisors in Sochi, Bush was meeting with his national security team at Camp David in Maryland.

Bush, knowing the Sochi meeting was going on and needing an answer quickly since the Russian decision would define American planning, called Putin. They talked for almost an hour. At the end of that conversation, a deal was cut. The Russians would permit the Americans bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, would provide the Americans with their top-tier intelligence on Afghanistan and al Qaeda, and would provide immediate logistical support for U.S. intelligence teams moving into Afghanistan. Piecemeal cooperation that had already taken place after September 11 was turned into systematic cooperation. Most important, Russia would allow the Americans access to the Northern Alliance.

In return, the United States would agree to limit its presence in Central Asia in terms of size and length of stay and would agree to force Georgia to shut down arms smuggling. The U.S. would also give the Russians a free hand in Chechnya and take no steps to facilitate the disintegration of Russia. Later on February 21, 2002, after the main fighting in Afghanistan was over, forty American Special Forces troops dressed in civilian clothes landed in Tbilisi, Georgia, to begin the process of closing off the flow of arms, payment on the U.S. end of the bargain.

[...]

Putin certainly had his doubts about that strategy by 2001, but he also understood that the Russians were in no position to engage in a geopolitical competition with the United States, especially in its current economic and military position. [...] But refusing to cooperate with the United States over its punitive operations against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan would represent a break by Russia with the United States over an issue so fundamental that it would end any hope of collaboration between the two nations on any level.

The Americans were coming into Central Asia to go after al Queda, and they were going to use the Northern Alliance to do it. The only thing the Russians could achieve by not collaborating was to delay the United States - and to permanently sour relationships. Potentially, there was something to be gained from collaboration and a great deal to be lost from resistance. On September 22, 2001, eleven days after Al Qaeda's attack, the United States had its answer from the Russians: They would help.


George Friedman, America's Secret War, pg 148, 149
More Friedman, on the leadup to the Iraq War (emphasis mine):
Different nations had different concerns. For Russia, the critical
issue was oil. Russia had become one of the world's largest exporters
of energy, and it badly needed the price of oil to remain high.
Keeping
Iraqi oil off the market in amounts large enough to maintain global
energy prices was of a vital national interest to the Russians, in spite
of some development projects they had in Iraq. The Russians worried
that the U.S.-Saudi conflict would result in the U.S. trying to crush
the Saudis by pouring Iraqi oil on the world markets.

The Russians knew that surging Iraqi oil production was easier
said than done, but they had also learned never to underestimate
American technical prowess. lf the U.S. did surge Iraqi production,
Saudi Arabia would not be the only victim. If oil prices tanked, Russia's
economy tanked with them.


George Friedman, America's Secret War, pg 270
resolves to this:
A basket case in the 1990s, Russia's economy has grown an average of 7% a year for the past five years. The country has paid off a foreign debt that once neared $200 billion. Russia's rich have gotten richer, often obscenely so. But the poor are doing better too: workers' salaries have more than doubled since 2003. True, this is partly a result of oil at $90 a barrel, and oil is a commodity Russia has in large supply. But Putin has deftly managed the windfall and spread the wealth enough so that people feel hopeful.
the result of all of which is this:
"I have a very good personal relationship with Mr. Bush," he says. "He is a very reliable partner, a man of honor."
There you have it.
posted by edverb at 9:43 AM on December 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Tradition! Tradition! lie lie lie lie lie lie Tradition!
Tradition! Tradition! lie lie lie lie lie lie Tradition!

(GWB-Spoken)
And in the circle of our little village heh heh
We've always had our special types heh
Fr instance, Oprah the matchmaker
Al Gore the beggar
and most importantest of all
Our beloved Pastor Dobson,

(GWB- Spoken)
Pastor, may I ask you a uh heh heh question?

(Dobson- Spoken)
Certainly.

(GWB- Spoken)
Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?

(Dobson- Spoken)
A blessing for the Tsar? May God bless
and keep the Tsar far away from us!

(Male Singing)
Lie lie lie lie..........


Ah, American foreign policy. Is there a musical you can't be comapred to?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Never mind the suspicious deaths of opposition journalists, the illegal seizure of property and assets from the industrialists, etc.

I, too, feel bad about the poor industrialists who earned their money by getting the Russian industries for a pack of Cheetos the sweat of their brows.
posted by ersatz at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


What amazes me is that people seem to be surprised by Putin's authoritarian leanings and his grip on power. Now, as a high school student when he went into office, I told my parents that he would be effectively a dictator within half a decade. If I can get it right, why can't anybody who actually has, you know, inside information or intelligence on the matter?
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:57 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


One thing that often seems lost in these discussions is that in several places, I have read that Putin is generally and genuinely very popular in Russia.

I understand that media influence, lack of adaquete polling, culture not used to expressing opinions on powerful leaders will translate into some popularity, but is anyone able to comment on what experts believe is his true level of support?

Given Russia's history, I would guess that just by comparison to the past, he would be wildly popular.
posted by cell divide at 12:43 PM on December 19, 2007


I have read that Putin is generally and genuinely very popular in Russia.

I've read it repeatedly too, and it's always been ascribed to never ever having democracy in the first place (they've had 1000+ years of only kings, czars, lords, cossacks, and dictators, etc), and remembering always having strong central leaders during the Soviet years, and enormous distaste for the total uncertainty and rampant corruption of the Gorbachev/Yeltsin years.
posted by amberglow at 1:06 PM on December 19, 2007


Time's Person of the Year isn't an endorsement of their values or politics, but of their prestige and power over world events.

You know who else was Time's Man of the Year...
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:25 PM on December 19, 2007


I love how the guy basically ended up in power through a series of whimsical events.

We must have very different definitions of "whimsical".
posted by odinsdream at 3:00 PM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


They spelt his name wrong. No wonder he started killing everyone
posted by ZippityBuddha at 3:05 PM on December 19, 2007


Putin always seems like he just walked of the set of The Man From UNCLE. That just me?
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on December 19, 2007


I always think of the old Mission Impossible (Putin's face is one of the disguises they use to do something in the USSR).
posted by amberglow at 8:03 AM on December 20, 2007


State-sactioned murders, political oppression, fixed elections, and false imprisonment. Sounds like Russia is making real progress into a stable environment to me. Putin is clearly my Person of the Year.
posted by texas_duck at 8:25 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now, as a high school student when he went into office, I told my parents that he would be effectively a dictator within half a decade. If I can get it right, why can't anybody who actually has, you know, inside information or intelligence on the matter?

Dude, when I was a high school senior, I was telling everyone that President Reagan was, long-term, going to be bad for America. I'm still right, and most people still don't agree with me.

It sucks being a visionary in your own time.
posted by psmealey at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have written about the difference between American and Russian interpretations of politics here.

The histrionics about tyranny in this thread are ridiculous.
posted by nasreddin at 11:06 AM on December 20, 2007


Incidentally, Putin never rigged any elections.

Did you know that the USSR government was popularly elected? And the elections were free, voting being in fact mandatory? It's just that the proper candidate was always nominated by the "Communist and Unaffiliated Bloc."

Same here.
posted by nasreddin at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2007


Dude, when I was a high school senior, I was telling everyone that President Reagan was, long-term, going to be bad for America. I'm still right, and most people still don't agree with me.
You'd be surprised--as a Junior, i was begging my parents not to go Reagan in 80 (it was the first time millions of Dems had ever voted Republican for President), but the whole country did--and again in 84.
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on December 20, 2007


And we repeated the errors in the last two presidential elections. Same stuff (or worse), different face.
posted by rasputin400 at 4:37 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The histrionics about tyranny in this thread are ridiculous.

from your link: Indeed, Russians' attitude to power has much more in common with medieval European peasants than with contemporary Europeans: it doesn't matter who rules over you, they're lords with their own interests and their politics have nothing to do with you.

Except that they do have much to do with everyone under them--and affect all aspects of life there the more absolute and unchecked power they have, and it most often is tyranny. Russians' non-expectations and resigned attitudes actually enable tyranny--especially now when they themselves celebrate throwing off the yoke of the Soviet system just to seemingly and willingly put another yoke on which looks and acts remarkably like the old one. Is there really less corruption now than under Yelstin and under the USSR? Is there really any more say for the people than under the previous systems? Is the power and control and oppression so much different now?
posted by amberglow at 7:14 PM on December 20, 2007


and of course, if people don't or won't stand up and participate for whatever reason (see all the former Soviet satellites for varying examples of it, and see us for what happens when too many don't participate and the usual checks and balances break down and the media covers up more than it exposes, etc) what happens? And does whatever happens as a result of not participating really not affect everyone's life? What are the alternatives to not participating, and what always happens historically?
posted by amberglow at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2007


oops--that should be "see all the former Soviet satellites for varying examples of participation, ..."
posted by amberglow at 7:40 PM on December 20, 2007



Anyone want to hazard a quess of how much Putin's personal wealth grows each year he spends in power?? I'll guess $25 million.


Way too low, according to this at the Guardian: ... after eight years in power Putin has secretly accumulated more than $40bn (£20bn). The sum would make him Russia's - and Europe's - richest man.

In an interview with the Guardian, Belkovsky repeated his claims that Putin owns vast holdings in three Russian oil and gas companies, concealed behind a "non-transparent network of offshore trusts". ...

posted by amberglow at 12:11 PM on December 21, 2007


and from there too: ... According to Panfilova, the "randomised" corruption of the 1990s has given way to the "systemic and institutionalised corruption" of the Putin era. Members of Putin's cabinet personally control the most important sectors of the economy - oil, gas and defence. Medvedev is chairman of Gazprom; Sechin runs Rosneft; other ministers are chairmen of Russian railways, Aeroflot, a nuclear fuel giant and an energy transport enterprise.

Putin has created a new, more streamlined oligarchy, his critics say. "The crown jewels of the country's wealth have ended up in the hands of Putin's inner circle," ...

posted by amberglow at 12:13 PM on December 21, 2007


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