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Mr. Putin’s Word is Void of Value

MOSCOW — “Mr. Putin does not want to annex eastern Ukraine. I am sure of it. He told me so,” French President François Hollande affirmed in a recent radio interview. Whether this was an unfortunate turn of phrase or genuine naïveté, Western leaders should be reminded of what Russian citizens have long known—that Vladimir Putin’s promises are rarely worth the paper they are written on.

Here is but a short selection of prominent “he-told-me-so’s” from the Kremlin leader.

“To take away the people’s right to elect their regional leaders would be wrong… and would constitute an element of disrespect for the voters.” (May 6, 2000)

“I believed and continue to believe that the leaders of the regions of the [Russian] Federation should be elected by the people. This order has become established and has become a part of our democratic state system.” (May 17, 2000)

“I believe that governors should be elected too. We cannot deprive citizens of the right to elect the head of their region. If this has been given, this cannot be taken away. This would be harmful.” (June 24, 2002)

On September 13, 2004, Vladimir Putin announced his decision to abolish direct gubernatorial elections in Russia. The law was signed on December 12th.

 “As far as NTV is concerned… there is only one way to solve this problem—the legal, that is, the judicial way.” (April 10, 2001)

In the early morning of April 14, 2001, the editorial offices of NTV, then Russia’s largest independent television network, were seized by security guards from the state corporation Gazprom. A new pro-government management was installed at NTV.

 “We have many problems… One of them is the development of civil society and the freedom of the press. Without that, a democratic society cannot exist… And we will do everything we can to support the [TV-6] staff.” (January 15, 2002)

On January 22, 2002, the independent television channel TV-6 was shut down on the order of Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.

Question: How do you see the future of Crimea? Is the possibility of its inclusion into Russia being considered?

Vladimir Putin: No, this is not being considered. (March 4, 2014)

On March 18, 2014, Putin officially annexed Crimea to the Russian Federation.

What will Putin say next? And, more importantly, who will believe him?

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