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Enough False Rhetoric From Putin

I have one request to Russia’s fascistoid leader: stop lecturing Ukraine and the world.

I’ve been listening to you for close to 15 years now and, frankly, I’m tired of your half-baked views and cockamamie opinions. I know you think you know a lot about the ways of the world, Volodya, but permit me to let you in on a secret that everyone besides you knows: You don’t.

Just what makes you think that a career in the KGB qualifies you to speak authoritatively about anything—and, especially, about constitutions, democracy, and legitimacy? Indeed, former members of criminal organizations might be better advised to keep mum about the very things they spent their entire careers trying to destroy.

But it gets worse. After all, we know you plagiarized your dissertation:

According to official sources, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a degree of candidate of economic science (incorrectly described on the English-language version of his website as a “Ph.D in economics”), awarded by the St. Petersburg Mining Institute in 1996. Putin never actually attended the institute, however, and the topic of the dissertation he submitted and defended was one in which he had no previous background. With the aim of exploring the mystery, Brookings [Institution] researchers Clifford Gaddy and Igor Danchenko in 2005 obtained a copy of the previously inaccessible dissertation and examined its contents. On March 30, 2006, … they also presented evidence of extensive plagiarism in the dissertation.

We also know that yours is a particular brand of ruthlessness. There is very strong evidence to suggest that you were in on the plot to bomb two apartment buildings in Moscow in September 1999, in which 300 Russian citizens were killed and several hundred others were wounded. As Amy Knight, a specialist on the KGB argues:

The evidence provided in [John Dunlop’s] The Moscow Bombings makes it abundantly clear that the FSB of the Russian Republic, headed by Patrushev, was responsible for carrying out the attacks. … Yet it is hard to imagine that they would have gone so far as to order bombings that they knew would kill so many innocent people. The more likely possibility is that the FSB was told by Yeltsin’s inner circle that violent acts were needed to destabilize Russia but that no specific instructions were given to blow up apartment buildings. The FSB, including its top leadership, responded by seizing the initiative. What, then, was the role of Putin, who was prime minister at the time, and also secretary of the Security Council? … as Dunlop demonstrates, … it is inconceivable that [this terrible act] would have been done without the sanction of Putin.

In October 2002, you crushed a Chechen seizure of the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow by killing 40 Chechens and 130 Russian hostages. Then, in September 2004, you crushed a Chechen takeover of a school in Beslan by killing a few dozen militants and 334 Russian citizens, including 156 children. And with a record like that, you have the temerity to accuse Kyiv of failing to negotiate with the terrorists you’ve sponsored and sent into eastern Ukraine. And you have the unmitigated gall to accuse Ukraine of being indifferent to civilian casualties!

You claim to have built up Russia’s economy, Volodya, but everyone knows you had nothing to do with sparking rapid GDP growth. All the credit goes to a huge spike in the price of oil and gas that, happily for you, coincided with your coming to power. Now that energy prices have leveled off and the shale gas revolution has taken place, let’s see you get the declining Russian GDP going again. I’m betting you’ll fail. Not that you won’t keep taking a big piece of the shrinking Russian economic pie. Just how much have you squirreled away in Western banks, Volodya? Is it $45 billion or $75 billion?

But, heck, if you want to destroy Russia and bamboozle the Russians, who am I to stop you? What really gets me is your moralizing Ukraine and the rest of the world about constitutions, democracy, legitimacy, and stability. You know, as well as everybody, that you’ve systematically violated Russia’s Constitution since 1999. You also know that you’ve dismantled every single democratic institution in Russia. You know that your legitimacy rests exclusively on your ability to pay off your cronies with your ill-gotten loot and buy off the population with promises of imperial grandeur and quick infusions of easy money. And you know that the major reason for instability in much of the post-Soviet world is your interminable meddling, and not the internal difficulties of the countries concerned. Stop infiltrating terrorists into Ukraine, Volodya, and I bet eastern Ukraine will quickly settle down.

Some people are impressed by your statecraft, but I’m not. You happen to have been at the right time in the right place. Just as Russia remains an Ivory Coast with a bomb, so, too, you remain a Yanukovych with gas. If it weren’t for all that filthy lucre that’s rained down on you, you would have long since been voted out of office by Russians. If it weren’t for your genuine skill at talking tough, democratic policymakers would have long since realized that your bare-chested bluster is just a cover for your policy incompetence.

So, Volodya, stop lecturing Ukraine about constitutions, democracy, legitimacy, and stability. Indeed, stop lecturing us about anything. Except, perhaps, on the mechanics of mendacity, death, destruction, and destabilization. Do everyone a favor, Volodya: please shut up.

Photo credit: www.kremlin.ru

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