All this talk about Putin’s whereabouts is missing the point, or perhaps it is the point — of propaganda, both Russian and Western. Both The West and Russia would have us believe Russia and Putin are synonymous — one and the same — but they’re not. Russia’s fate is not Putin’s fate. Putin can die, whether he’s murdered or kicks off from natural causes, and Russia will continue on its path of self-annihilation virtually unhindered. For certain Putin is, from a marketing perspective, the face of Russia but Russia is so much more than that face. As I’ve mentioned numerous times at this space in previous blog posts, Russia is a Kleptocracy. It’s a system, not the transparently marketed image of a puffed-up diminutive man. It’s a Nation-State mafia, and as such it needs the image of a strongman Tsar-type persona to occupy the helm (a Michael Corleone, for example) — or at least it must appear that way. This Tsar-like image is sold to Russians and non-Russians alike. To the Russian public it makes them feel safe and secure precisely because it’s what they’ve always known — so much so you wonder if it’s now part of their genetic code. “Father will take care of us and protect us” is the sentiment of the Russian people, or most Russian people these days if the polls are to be believed, and I’m not sure they can be — believed. To The West, this tyrannical Tsar-like strongman image serves as a convenient scapegoat to flog ad nauseum as a deflection from its own pernicious and insidious vice.
The aforementioned is the purpose of my satire in my previous blog post. Putin, the man himself, is not that important. It’s the marketed image he represents that is important — the facade. The gap between the facade that is Putin and the man who is really Putin is huge, and that’s where the Potemkin comes in. It’s a pretense. A ruse. A swindle. A front. It’s obvious, and perhaps that’s the reason for the shakeup that may be taking place behind The Kremlin walls. A new strategy’s in order. Their Potemkin Presidency has been blown over by a mild breeze and their shriveled naughty bits are swinging in the rain and snow for all to see. It’s time for a new strategy. The Putin strongman Tsar-type presidency project has been shit-canned and it’s time for a firm, but more benevolent image to be rolled out with an enormous marketing campaign behind it to get the people in line. It may be sold as a palace coup, or that Putin died of a certain illness, but either way, it will be the end of a marketing era just as the series Mad Men wrapping up portended the end of an era in marketing. Despite all that, or because of it, the Kleptocracy will continue. The change will give it staying power. When cornered, change your colors to mesh with the background and avoid detection until you can stealthily slither away.
Of course, I could be as wrong about this as wrong can be, but I doubt it. In the least, I’m directionally correct. The Kremlin, if nothing else, has always been surrounded by intrigue. Why would it be any different now? And even if I am wrong about what The Kremlin is up to now and has been up to for the past several decades, there is the indisputable fact, not merely an observation or theory, that Putin, the image, is a ruse every bit as much as the mighty Wizard of Oz is/was a ruse.
I’ve mentioned Karen Dawisha in previous blog posts, but I’ll mention her again because she and her research are pertinent to the discussion and my observations. She spent many years researching the Kleptocracy that is Russia and wrote a book culminated from that research entitled Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?.
Here’s an excellent review from that link to Amazon. In my opinion, Dawisha gives too much weight to Putin and his image, rather than to the Kleptocratic system he helped nurture and enable until it was mature and could survive on its own.
By Sinohey TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Earlier this year, I read that Cambridge Press refused to publish this book for fear of a libel lawsuit. Of course, I was intrigued and curious about its contents.
It is a no holds barred expose about the deeply ingrained and rampant corruption permeating Russia since the fall of the USSR. Ms Dawisha lays out in great details based on primary sources, WiKileaks and extensive research of public documents – the machinations and illegal predatory schemes perpetrated by Putin and his inner circle, beginning from 1990 to the present. The author exposes Putin’s rise to power from his early days as a KGB officer in East Germany to his stint in St. Petersburg, where he was embroiled with the local Mafia, ex-KGB apparatchiks and bureaucrats in several shady financial schemes involving the diversion of municipal funds, illegal arms shipments, the food shortage scandal of 1991, local gambling industry and money laundering for the Cali drug cartel through the Real Estate Board of St. Petersburg. Putin “was a thug and a crook from the very beginning, and the people of St. Petersburg knew it.”
As head of the FSB and with the support of a close knit cabal, Putin rapidly rose to power and by 2005 was elected (fraudulently according to the book and others) as President of Russia.
By the end of the USSR, the KGB secreted about $300 billion in currency and gold outside the country. Funds that they then used to purchase industries and banks in the new Russia. According to Credit Suisse, today there are about 110 billionaires in Russia where the median personal income is only $871 per month. A cabal of oligarchs, Mafiosos and ex-KGB and FSB cronies run the state through Putin, by usurping all the levers of power, production, commerce and finance. Dawisha writes, “Putin and KGB sought from the beginning to establish an authoritarian regime in Russia, not perhaps for its own sake but because controlling the political and economic development of the country was for them a greater ambition than building any democracy.”
In the Introduction, the author writes, “when Putin was declared the winner of the 2012 presidential elections, increased targeted repressions began again …. non-violent demonstrators were once again sentenced to either prison or indefinite psychiatric treatment.
According to Transparency International, the rampant corruption costs over $300 billion per year; and over $325 billion has been secreted out of Russia since 2005. Putin nationalized risk and privatized rewards (to his supporters).
The author names a rogues gallery of characters besides Putin; Berezovsky, Kalugin, Smirnov, Zolotov, Petrov, Malacheff et al., and describes their associations and malfeasance. The establishment of offshore havens in Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria to hide assets, launder money and counterfeit currencies is exposed.
The reader is left with many questions to ponder. Why did Yeltsin endorse and support Putin? Is Putin an independent power-hungry dictator or is he the puppet of a large and powerful secret junta? Is he now controlling and eliminating the hold of his inner circle? How much and what did the US know? Are sanctions against individuals ( the oligarchs of the inner circle) affecting Putin’s administration? A good start to get some answers is to follow the money.
This is a well documented scholarly book, written in clear concise language. Chapters are well organized and the writing flows evenly. It should be required reading for students, members of government and academics, and anyone who wants to understand the new Russia.
Ms. Dawisha has established Website where she has posted the entire bibliography for this book:
Here’s a YouTube video of a speech by Karen Dawisha, as well. Also, isn’t it telling that Cambridge refused to publish this book? I doubt it’s fear of a libel lawsuit as was alleged, but rather, those who run and control Cambridge, the elite, fear that they too will be exposed for their complicity in aiding and abetting Kleptocratic Russia. For some in The West, Kleptocratic Russia is a wet dream where anything goes when it comes to graft.
As for the UK’s complicity with Kleptocratic Russia, here’s a YouTube link to an excellent video which paints the picture that the UK is compromised at the highest levels, therefore its reluctance to pass its own version of the Magnitsky Act. It reminds me of Sexy Beast, and the relationship between Harry (played by James Fox) and Teddy Bass (played by Ian McShane of Deadwood fame), and we all know, or should know, Harry’s fate in that movie. Will the UK’s finest suffer a similar fate? It would be fitting. I can’t find a clip of Teddy serving up Harry’s fate, but I did find the airplane cigarette clip with the psychopath Don Logan. If you haven’t seen this movie, you must. It’s excellent, and it’s great metaphor for Kleptocratic Russia and those who get in bed with it.
Who knows, maybe Putin will make an entrance today after a week or more absence and it’ll all be forgotten in several days and/or weeks. Perhaps The Kremlin is just playing more mind games as is its wont, or it’s entirely plausible that the RADU (Russian Affiliated Doppelgänger’s Union) has gone on strike and there is no one to play the part of Putin. What is an interesting coincidence is the fact that I brought this up at Kunstler’s blog, Clusterfuck Nation, and what do you know, right on cue once again, The Kremlin engages in Monkey Business as though it’s reading and reacting to my posts. It’s that, or The Yellow King — take your pick. Here’s what I said then:
Cold N. Holefield
March 8, 2015 at 10:03 am #
FincaInTheMountains said: What nobody expected Putin to do is to bring the actual interests of the Russian State and Russian People to the negotiating table.
In otherwords, he made the Kleptocracy official. It’s now a system — the official system of Russia. The only way to succeed in Russia now is to lie, cheat, steal and murder. That happens in The West as well, but as of yet, it’s not the only way to succeed and instead just one of a number of ways. The West, any day now, can easily slip to the debased kleptocratic level of Russia. Russia must be held up as an example of “what not to become” and used to implement principled safeguards to prevent The West from slipping any further into that degraded criminal quagmire of no return. In the meantime, Russia must be isolated as a pariah state so it can be allowed to devour its disfunction. It must be deprived of any future “marks.” In due time, it will consume itself, and the refuse of that process will provide fertile ground for a new and enlightened Russia to take root and flourish.
Not to mention, it’s no longer about Putin. It’s the system now, and getting rid of Putin won’t change a thing. In fact, Putin died long ago. Doppelgängers have now taken his place as an image to present to the moronic Russian people who must have their strongman Tsar. The person posing as Putin today is not the Putin who was appointed Tsar of Russia by Yeltsin. Russia, with all of the skill of a pufferfish, has a Potemkin Presidency. The West knows this and it’s why “Putin” hasn’t been capped. He was already capped around 2005-2006 and it’s been covered over by The Kremlin.
There is no way the Putin we see today, or haven’t for the past week or more, is the same Putin who stole and cheated his way into ultimate power in 1999. It’s not even close. The doppelgängers The Kremlin have chosen suck. But it doesn’t take much to fool most of the people most of the time. Just as there is no me, there is no Putin — only the idea of Putin. In honor of Grigory Potemkin’s successful efforts to impress Empress Catherine II by erecting and populating fake mobile villages along the Dnieper River during the Empress’s six month visit to Crimea in 1787, The Kremlin, perhaps, has erected a fake mobile presidency populated by Putin doppelgängers in order to impress both the citizens of Russia and Russia’s alleged enemies.
And yes, of course, I know, the POTUS isn’t much different but at least they change the color and style of the curtain every four or eight years unlike Russia where it’s dismal and boring gunmetal grey forever and ever, amen.
That’s it for now. Lie well and for all the right reasons unlike The Kremlin that lies lousy and for all the wrong reasons.