Afterthoughts on Putin and Russia

The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad. [==Bertrand Russell, in 1956 letter]

Vladimir Putin

I oppose the war party in the United States, I don’t consider myself pro-Putin or pro-Russia.

Vladimir Putin is the authoritarian ruler of a corrupt oligarchy.  I never denied this.

I guess I am pro-Russia in that I sympathize with the long-suffering Russian people, but I’m not an admirer of their government.

Thomas Piketty, the French economist known for his studies of inequality, wrote that the degree of economic inequality in Russia is at least as great as it is in the USA.

He wrote that half of Russia’s financial assets are in tax havens abroad. The Pandora Papers revealed that a large chunk of those assets are held by a crony of Putin’s.

Alexei Navalny

A friend of mine with contacts in Russia told me of a businessman who has to make kickbacks to three entities—the tax collector, the FSB (Russian FBI) and local organized crime.

This friend also tells me that, except for Moscow and a few other big cities, Russia is a sea of misery and discontent.

Opponents of the regime have a way of dying mysteriously or being killed by unknown persons. I wrote five years ago that Putin is a killer, and I have no reason to take this back.  Admittedly, not all cases are clear-cut, but unmistakable victims include Anna Politovskaya, Alexander Litvenenko and Boris Nemtsov.

The big human rights issue currently in Russia is the poisoning and imprisonment of anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny.   He fell sick while on an airplane flight from Siberia to Moscow in 2020.  His supporters arranged for him to be flown to Germany, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.  Medical authorities determined that he had been poisoned.  Later, Navalny said. he tricked Russian agents into admitting they placed toxins in his underpants.

Early in 2021 Navalny flew back to Russia, where he was imprisoned on charges of parole violations.  He had been convicted of embezzlement, which his supporters say is a bogus charge.

 But now the Russian authorities have reportedly labeled him a terrorist and “extremist,” and are  going after his supporters.  Evidently the Navalny movement has them worried..

But none of this is a reason for the impending crisis between the United States and the Russian Federation.

The United States government cares nothing for human rights in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine or any other country except as talking points.  And even if it did, the human rights situation is not going to be improved by the U.S. government backing Russia into a corner militarily and strategically, or by imposing economic sanctions.

The U.S. government is losing its power to force other countries to conform to its demands, and it no longer has the moral standing to be taken seriously on the topic of human.  At this moment in history, the priority for us Americans should be to fix what’s wrong with our own country, and then we will have the political and economic power and the moral authority to talk about human rights in other countries.

The other things to remember are that in the Russian Federation, as in the United States, the problems are systemic, and that Vladimir Putin, like Joe Biden, is the product of a system.  If Vladimir Putin were to be struck by lightning tomorrow, his replacement would not be to the liking of the U.S. government nor to human rights defenders, either one.

LINKS

Russia: Repression Escalates by Human Rights Watch. 

President Putin: Free Alexei Navalny by Amnesty International.

Who is Alexei Navalny? The leader behind Russia’s anti-Putin protests, explained by Alex Ward for Vox.

Russia labels more top Alexei Navalny aides “terrorists” by Deutsche Welle News.

The Nobel Peace Prize Acknowledges a Dangerous Era for Journalists by Masha Gessen for The New Yorker.  The Nobel co-winner, Dimitry Muratov, is editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, which Gessen says has lost more journalists to murder than any other Russian news outlet.

The Victims of Putin’s Crackdown on the Press by Keith Gessen for The New Yorker.  As of last September, the targets included ten news outlets and twenty journalists.

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One Response to “Afterthoughts on Putin and Russia”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    And maybe Putin is far more vulnerable than he seems. Looking at it from his POV, it would not be the first time a dictator tried to distract from woes at home with a foreign adventure.

    Like

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