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World & Current Events > Putin or Rasputin?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments As it's Sunday and people might be a bit bored by lasting Donald/Hillary showdown, maybe we can spotlight some other prominent figures.
It looks like every once in a century Russia is 'blessed' with some kind of Putin -:)
Those two are almost antipodes: Rasputin - known for his debauchery, largely accused for demise of Russian Romanov monarchy about 100 years ago, and Putin - seemingly pragmatic leader, trying to leave an entry in the history book of a 'consolidator', bringing back Russian lands and reinforcing statehood... Good, evil or controversial? The answer would be judgemental.
Forbes recurrently ranks Vladimir as the most influential person in the world. His popularity in Russia is close to 90% - a remarkable achievement for any politician, which should be discounted though for the absence of free media. Some argue he represents the last bastion of 'old', 'power' politics.
What do you think?


message 2: by Jen Pattison (last edited Oct 16, 2016 02:46AM) (new)

Jen Pattison | 409 comments I noticed a big increase in Russia-bashing in the press since Russia and China warned the US against going into Syria with guns blazing. The BRICS economies are also faltering and I don't think that has happened chaotically. Let's not forget that the root of what is happening in the Middle East and Ukraine is all about oil and gas resources, and the thwarting of the Black Sea pipeline that would have bypassed Ukraine.

There is always a lot going on under the surface, and you need to remember what has gone on before and connect the dots. Unfortunately so many these days have short attention spans.


message 3: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1907 comments They are brothers from different mothers.


message 4: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Jen Pattison wrote: "the thwarting of the Black Sea pipeline that would have bypassed Ukraine....
..There is always a lot going on under the surface, and you need to remember what has gone on before and connect the dots.."


There were a few projectsm designed to bypass Ukraine, and Nord Stream is realized and expanding:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nord_St...

Since Russian economy is extremely dependent on oil exports, Russian media and politicians blame plunge in oil prices as primarily anti-Russian conspiracy aimed to cripple its economy..
Who knows indeed what goes under the surface? -:)


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Mehreen wrote: "They are brothers from different mothers."

-:)


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments I expect Putin's popularity is real, albeit possibly exaggerated. People actually have long memories, and they will recall the collapse of their country and the consequent pillage under Yeltsin. Putin has reversed that, and while society there may not be ideal, it is a lot better than it was. The persistent efforts by the US to put Russia backwards and, as seen by Russians, into the control of foreign corporations will also help.
Putin's problem is simply there is too much to do, and the collapse of oil prices has not helped. I have yet to see anyone come up with a better alternative to why he is trying to do. It is easy to criticise - much harder to be constructive and valid.


message 7: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Unfortunately, not sure, the pillage stopped, Ian. May just be done by a different crew.
Just an example - the difference between China's development and that of Russia is striking and not in Russia's favor, while it's not obvious why it should be this way..


message 8: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin The truth is that it is now Putin's friends who are doing the pillaging. As for Russia's development, Putin is mostly doing another 'Potemkin': building modern, grandiose things in the major cities and places most often seen by visitors, while the rural population and infrastructure is mostly ignored and left in deplorable conditions. A good example of all this were the Olympic Games in Suchi, where billions of rubbles were wasted and stolen by friends of Putin who were given the various building contracts and ended up doing a scandalous job of it. Meanwhile, most places in regions like Siberia live in conditions reminiscent of the 1930s. In truth, Putin is not interested in the living conditions of the little Russian people. What he is interested in is in power, pure and simple, a thirst for power tainted by his dreams of recreating the old Soviet Union.


message 9: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments Nik, for me it is obvious why Russia has problems: too much cronyism and pillage. Also the Russians seem to be less commercially driven. The Chinese are very energetic when it comes to making money


message 10: by Matthew (last edited Oct 16, 2016 10:53PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) @Jen: I'd say the Russia-bashing has had far more to do with it's annexation of the Ukraine, not to mention Russia' enduring support of the Assad regime despite his crimes of war (this predates the rise of ISIS, keep in mind).

@Nik: He's the classic Russian "strongman", a pattern which keeps repeating itself. From Ivan the terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin, Russia has an enduring legacy of brutal tyrants controlling the vast and diverse land with an iron fist. On the one hand, they seem necessary given Russia's turbulent history and social problems, but they also perpetuate those problems by maintaining a tradition of autocracy and brutality.


message 11: by GR (last edited Oct 16, 2016 11:25PM) (new)

GR Oliver | 479 comments Nik wrote: "As it's Sunday and people might be a bit bored by lasting Donald/Hillary showdown, maybe we can spotlight some other prominent figures.
It looks like every once in a century Russia is 'blessed' wit..."


If you look at the Putin, in German it's Puten (pronounced the same), it means: Turkey

I believe everybody in politics is a turkey. They fool the public to gain prominence and a place in history.

I don't like politicians. I've campaigned for several, and most are only thinking of their interest, not the publics. I'm sorry. Tchess...


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Michel wrote: "What he is interested in is in power, pure and simple, a thirst for power tainted by his dreams of recreating the old Soviet Union. ..."

And with this he might be satisfying Russian people's craving for a strong leader. The idea of a strong leader is very popular among Russians. They are less particular about democracy, liberties and freedoms, even economical well-being sometimes and many favor a 'strong hand', who in their perception can rein in corrupted officials, oligarchs, drunkards, bring order, dignity and national pride. Sort of a Russian dream as opposed to an American one -:)
Of course, there are many Russians, who see it differently and some of those emigrated...


message 13: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Ian wrote: "Nik, for me it is obvious why Russia has problems: too much cronyism and pillage. Also the Russians seem to be less commercially driven. "

Agree.
Moreover, I'd prefer you were right about Putin and not me.
Another major problem - those who can push economy forward don't believe in anything long-term and in their own institutions, because they fear that once they are out of favor with the top authority, they'd be crushed: legally or illegally, therefore many wealthy Russians don't keep their money in Russia, don't initiate long-term projects and operate with the mind-set of 'here and now'


message 14: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments GR wrote: "If you look at the Putin, in German it's Puten (pronounced the same), it means: Turkey

I believe everybody in politics is a turkey. They fool the public to gain prominence and a place in history...."


I heard of some strangest associations the surname spurs in Spanish-speaking countries, not sure I want to mention it -:)
Agree that worthy politicians is a rare breed....


message 15: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) GR wrote: "Nik wrote: "As it's Sunday and people might be a bit bored by lasting Donald/Hillary showdown, maybe we can spotlight some other prominent figures.
It looks like every once in a century Russia is '..."


It gets worse. In French, Putin is slang for whore. This is similar to the Spanish puta, a common pejorative which means prostitute.


message 16: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2266 comments Ian wrote: "I expect Putin's popularity is real, albeit possibly exaggerated. People actually have long memories, and they will recall the collapse of their country and the consequent pillage under Yeltsin. Pu..."

I caught the back half of an episode of Globe Trekker where they were traveling the rails to a Russian oil field in the Arctic. At one point, the host comments on how all the Russian men are wearing the hats with the thermal parts that fold down over their ears, but no one has that part folded down to protect their ears. One of the Russians admits it's a sign of toughness.

Kind of explained to me that his popularity is real too. All those goofy photo ops of Putin hunting shirtless seem to feed that idea of male toughness...


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments J.J. wrote: "Kind of explained to me that his popularity is real too. All those goofy photo ops of Putin hunting shirtless seem to feed that idea of male toughness......"

I think it reaches a comical extent.. Going through tourist places in some Russian cities, I was amazed by the domination of souvenirs with Putin riding a bear, taming a tiger or whatever... Traditional Matryoshka/Babushka dolls give way to Mr. Putin doing different stunts.
Some examples -:):
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-rus...
http://russian-crafts.com/nesting-dol...


message 19: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments The first link doesn't open for some reason, while the second is just a slander, for it goes with the heading 'The Putin Murders' without even an attempt to prove anything and that's something expected when such grave accusations as murder and attempted murder are aired.
If talking about serious investigation, this would be one of them: Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?.
Having said that, there are some serious suspicions that do require a serious investigation (unlikely to happen, because as long as Putin is the president, Russia won't play along).
Litvinenko poisoning was investigated by a British former judge and while incomplete, at least in a sense that the suspects weren't questioned, his conclusion points at possible Kremlin's involvement. Khodorkovsky imprisonment is very likely to be politically motivated, however it's also likely that there were enough offences, he might've really committed. Investigations of murder of prominent opposition leaders and figures sometimes leave more questions than offer answers...
Don't think there is enough evidence for conclusions, but plenty for suspicions.. What is more clear that Putin is hardly an angel -:)


message 20: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy The New York Times article is quite good. I recommend signing up for their daily opinion page. The trail leading to Putin is pretty solid, maybe not 100% so.


message 21: by Jimmy (new)


message 22: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Jimmy wrote: "Litvinenko poisoning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/wor..."


Thanks, Jimmy. Had a long debate a while ago on another group, where Australian/English team backed Russian stance, while I saw merit in English judge' findings. Is this world crazy, or what?-:)


message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments As for Putin's stunts, my guess is he does what he has to do to be high in the popularity stakes. All politicians do this; the fact that Putin's stunts would be considered gross in the US or many other places is beside the point - that isn't his target audience.

As for Litvinenko, he was a traitor, plain and simple, and he got to the West. The US has executed a number of traitors without worrying too much about it, so why the anguish when Russia executes one of their traitors - at long range admittedly. All this crap about civilised behaviour is merely a self-serving superiority complex, OR an attempt at yet more points scoring. There is no evidence that Putin has ordered the long range execution of anyone who was obeying his own laws in his own country.


message 24: by Jimmy (last edited Oct 19, 2016 09:07PM) (new)

Jimmy Ian, here are some quotes from the NY Times article:

"Used extensively in the Soviet era, political murders are again playing a prominent role in the Kremlin’s foreign policy, the most brutal instrument in an expanding repertoire of intimidation tactics intended to silence or otherwise intimidate critics at home and abroad."

"Muckraking journalists, rights advocates, opposition politicians, government whistle-blowers and other Russians who threaten that image are treated harshly — imprisoned on trumped-up charges, smeared in the news media and, with increasing frequency, killed.

Political murders, particularly those accomplished with poisons, are nothing new in Russia, going back five centuries. Nor are they particularly subtle. While typically not traceable to any individuals and plausibly denied by government officials, poisonings leave little doubt of the state’s involvement — which may be precisely the point."

"Other countries, notably Israel and the United States, pursue targeted killings, but in a strict counterterrorism context. No other major power employs murder as systematically and ruthlessly as Russia does against those seen as betraying its interests abroad. Killings outside Russia were even given legal sanction by the nation’s Parliament in 2006.

Applied most notoriously in the case of Alexander V. Litvinenko, a Putin opponent who died of polonium-210 poisoning in London in 2006, murders and deaths under mysterious circumstances are now seen as such a menace that Kremlin critics now often flee the country and keep their whereabouts secret."

"Russia has never acknowledged using the authority under the 2006 law and has specifically denied any government ties to high-profile cases, including the Litvinenko murder."

"Among those fleeing Russia recently is Grigory Rodchenkov, a whistle-blower in Russia’s sports doping scandal.

This is not without reason. In the case over state-sponsored doping, two other officials with knowledge of the scheme died unexpectedly as the outlines of the scandal began to emerge. Just this month, another whistle-blower, Yulia Stepanova, a runner in hiding with her husband in the United States, was forced to move amid fears that hackers had found her location. 'If something happens to us,' she said, 'then you should know that it is not an accident.'

'The government is using the special services to liquidate its enemies,' Gennadi V. Gudkov, a former member of Parliament and onetime lieutenant colonel in the K.G.B., said in an interview. 'It was not just Litvinenko, but many others we don’t know about, classified as accidents or maybe semi-accidents.'"

"Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor, was jailed on tax evasion charges while investigating a $230 million government tax 'refund' that corrupt Russian officials had granted to themselves. He died in 2009 after having been denied essential medical care in prison, earning the Kremlin widespread condemnation."

"Some do take precautions. Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion and now an opposition figure, has long had bodyguards carry bottled water and prepared meals for him."


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments Jimmy, I am not denying that Russia has some what we call extrajudicial killings, although I suppose Gudkov is an example that it is not that common, as he should be high on any list. The fact that others are scared is the point of the whole exercise. As for whistleblowers, the examples are still alive, and I can think of one or two who, if the US got them, would spend most of the rest of their lives in prisons that are arguably not much better than being dead.

What I would be more concerned about is what happens to people who are merely law-abiding citizens? I think it is imperative that these are allowed to live their lives free of intimidation.


message 26: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Ian wrote: "As for Litvinenko, he was a traitor, plain and simple, and he got to the West. The US has executed a number of traitors without worrying too much about it, so why the anguish when Russia executes one of their traitors - at long range admittedly...."

Why, Ian, if true, you really think Litvinenko's execution and the manner in which it was done is really justified? If something even similar were done to Snowden, I don't think many would support that and I sincerely hope nothing of a sort happens. And was he exactly a traitor? The guy went against his superiors and made it public that they conspire against Berezovsky. As I understand, he was investigated instead and then acquitted until the charges were renewed and he needed to seek asylum in the UK. Whom exactly he betrayed?
I can understand targeted killings against terrorists with blood on their hands, when it's impossible to bring them to justice, but that's pretty much it..

Ian wrote: "There is no evidence that Putin has ordered the long range execution of anyone who was obeying his own laws in his own country...."

But, of course, if such evidence existed no one in Russia would dare bring it up. There is a high death rate among opposition figures and journalists in Russia - regular innocent Russian citizens, be it Politkovskaya, lately - Boris Nemtsov and unfortunately some more.... BTW, I'm not saying Putin is behind any of the killings, but I do think a due investigation of who's responsible is certainly required.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments Nik, I have no idea what Litvenenko did, but I assume it had to be more than just an irritation. My guess is it was not what he was acquitted of, but something else that was only uncovered after he was acquitted.

Yes, it is true that many things could be going on that we don't know about. The reason for such overseas killings comes from mathematics - mainly game theory. When someone makes a decision to do something, they have to weigh up the probabilities of the various outcomes. If, when you get overseas, you are safe, and can probably sell your story to the western press for huge amounts, then the decision to do something lies mainly on whether you can get overseas, and given that there is usually a delay before the authorities wake up to what had happened, there is almost an incentive to do it. If there is some sort of probability that you will subsequently die, and a much bigger one that you will be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life, it is probably great discouragement.


message 28: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy I'm really finding it hard to fathom someone defending Putin.


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Ian wrote: "Nik, I have no idea what Litvenenko did, but I assume it had to be more than just an irritation. My guess is it was not what he was acquitted of, but something else that was only uncovered after he was acquitted..
it is probably great discouragement..."


Why would you assume that, Ian? What if his only guilt was forming the opposition to the authorities and voicing it publicly?
Discouragement or not, I can't see how his murder and pollonium can be justified...


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments I am not defending Putin - I am merely explaining the logic behind his point of view.

Nik, the discussion has listed a whole lot of other people in the West who have voiced opposition and nothing happened to them, so I assumed that he must have been something more than simple opposition. I may be wrong, but we shall never know because the Western intelligence services are hardly likely to explain what he gave them, if anything. The killing is, as I explained, a message to others to discourage them. The Polonium was presumably to make sure it worked, and gave the executioner time to get out of the UK.


message 31: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments I can only hope they don't have a list of people to whack and liquidate 'entries' from it whenever the opportunity arises or created


message 32: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments In the context of liquidation of opposition figures - for no other reason, than being a loud opposition -a case of murdered journalist -Georgiy Gongadze in Ukraine may cast some light on how these things happen.
As it turned out one of the guards of the then President of Ukraine - was recording his conversations. On the tapes (which integrity is questioned) the president repeatedly curses the journalist and urges that something needs to be done or the journalist abducted to somewhere.
The journalist was killed by a secret death squad of police. The police general was captured after a few years in hiding and convicted in murder.
The former minister of interior, the boss of the police general, allegedly committed suicide with TWO shots in the head on the day he was summoned for questioning.
The police general mentioned the then president and his chief-of-staff among those who ordered the liquidation. The investigation was renewed several times, but I don't think any of the latter were ever indicted...


message 33: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments Indeed, there are awful things going on, but my issue is, why are we objecting? If it were for the full morality issue, then we would be even handed, but that is not the case. Stalin probably killed more of his subjects than just about anyone but he was helped. Everyone ignores a number of African dictators. Then coming to more recent times, There is a great fuss about the killings as Assad tries to take Aleppo, but about 100,000 civilians died through the Bush administration removal of "weapons of mass destruction", and now who is protesting about the intended US/Iraqi demolition of Mosul? For me it is important that if we want change, it has to be even - as in Justice is blind.


message 34: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Sure, atrocity is an atrocity whoever does it, while we have a lot of double standards in the world. I'm also for a similar approach a to similar stuff.
At that, we have different situs. One thing is targeting innocent and unengaged people as a prime target and another - having collateral damage among civilians during an armed conflict...


message 35: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments Is anyone targeting innocent and unengaged people as a prime target?


message 36: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Regretfully many - terrorist organizations and regimes intolerant to dissenting opinions


message 37: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments A little dated thread, but a topical issue nonetheless, so worth reviving -:)


message 38: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Talking of regimes intolerant to dissenting opinions, you can certainly add now President Maduro's regime in Venezuella, while President Duterte of the Philippines seems to care nothing of individual rights and extra-judicial killings. Two places to watch closely.


message 39: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments I saw an interview with Duterte, and I believe it would be fair to say he most certainly does not care. He remarked something like, "Yes, they should be arrested, but if it is too difficult . . ." and he gave a shrug. My guess is Venezuella is falling apart.


message 40: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments Rasputin's debauchery or Putin's authoritarianism, which style, if any, do you prefer?


message 41: by J. (last edited Mar 25, 2021 01:54PM) (new)

J. Gowin | 4176 comments Would the KGB man be anywhere near as hard to kill as the monk was?


message 42: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15391 comments A violent transition of power in a nuclear rich environment can hardly be a good idea


message 43: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11251 comments Nik wrote: "Rasputin's debauchery or Putin's authoritarianism, which style, if any, do you prefer?"

Is neither an acceptable answer? If not, thinking about Russia only, I would go with Putin. He has at least achieved some good for the average Russian and was too late to stop the basic pillage of the country. That he has had to let it continue to stay in power is bad, but then again, I go along with Nik's post number 42.


message 44: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5984 comments Great thread title as always, Nik :-) I'd say one is dead and powerless, and the other is far from dead and powerless. They had a goal in common: gain power and keep it. Putin seems to be doing that.


message 45: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) Rasputin all day


message 46: by J. (new)

J. Gowin | 4176 comments Justin wrote: "Rasputin all day"

Boney M agrees.
https://youtu.be/YgGzAKP_HuM


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