December 21, 2008

Putin power grabbing again

According to a story in Reuters this morning, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is still moving to consolidate his power base and silence his critics. Speaking to the FSB (the successor to the KGB), Putin had angry words for his country's foes. He has frequently used Western security services (spies) as a rallying point for Russians. Now he's warning 'foes' against trying to destabilize Russia during a the broadening economic crisis facing Russia.

And in a classic look-what's-going-on-over-here-in-my-left-hand-so-you-miss-the-big-picture maneuver, Putin warned "Any attempts to weaken or destabilize Russia, harm the interests of the country will be toughly suppressed". With that statement Putin effectively also warned dissenters against opposing him, while possibly distracting Russians from the economic crisis that is happening under his watch. The crisis in Russia is potentially far more acute than in the United States, as the plunge in oil crisis impacts a Russian export and government revenue quite strongly. Russia is highly dependant on oil exports, and compounding the problem is the continued structural weakness of the Russian system. Russia does have substantial reserves but the spectre of foreign nationals infiltrating Russia always helped Putin's popularity during previous election cycles Putin was running in.

By distracting the country, Putin is hoping to open for himself another opportunity to consolidate his power. It's been speculated that the financial crisis would be leveraged in order to increase control over key strategic assets reversing the actions of the 1990s, when the state sold off major assets to wealth private sector citizens in exchange for loans. Whether this reversal is done via economic leverage or by force, it's clearly another step away from any pretense of democratization in Russia.

Putin seems intent on turning Russia into a police state with himself as the head. That Putin clearly longs for a return to the former Russian glory days of the Soviet Union is of no consequence. What Putin is desirous of most is absolute authority. Whether that comes in a communist state as some believe he longs to repair, or as a fascist style police state doesn't matter. Putin is working on consolidating power for himself in a country, that while diminished, still is a substantial international player, with nuclear warheads and empire ambitions. It's a dangerous situation for any international interest, and with the looming threat of the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, an unwelcome and potentially dangerous distraction for America.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This