Friday, 25 July 2014

The private life of dictator Vladimir Putin: "Singing songs together" with his English teacher on Sundays ...

 "His teacher helps him learn difficult words – singing songs together".
The result of Putin´s Sunday singing sessions with his English teacher?


Ben Judah´s Newsweek article "Behind the Scenes in Putin's Court: The Private Habits of a Latter-Day Dictator" makes interesting reading. This is how Judah describes the research behind the article:

In the course of my research I had the chance to interview everyone from former prime ministers, to Putin’s current ministers and regional governors, down to senior bureaucrats, close advisers, personal aides and ordinary people. Using information from these interviews, I have pieced together the private habits and routines of this latter-day dictator.

 The article includes e.g. the following interesting information:

The President keeps busy, even on Saturday and Sunday. At weekends, his schedule becomes more haphazard: but there are sometimes study sessions in the afternoon. Mostly, English language. His teacher helps him learn difficult words – singing songs together. There are times on Sundays he is said to pray or make a confession. But courtiers familiar with the office of the Patriarch are at pains to clarify – though not an atheist, perhaps a believer – his life is not that of a Christian. --

The President behaves as though he is made of bronze, as if he shines. He seems to know that they will flinch when meeting his eye. There is a silence around him. The voices of grown men change when they speak to him. They make their voices as low as possible. Their faces become solemn, almost stiffened. They look down: worried, ­nervous, alert.

Who ever told this to Judah, was spot on:

“The impression... you get from being close to him is that he would have been quite happy to step down. But he knows he has failed to rule Russia in anything else but a feudal way. And the moment his grip falters... it will all come crashing down and he will go to jail... and Moscow will burn like Kiev.”

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

French philosopher on Putin: "He has taken thugs, thieves, rapists, ex-cons and vandals and turned them into a paramilitary force"

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy on Vladimir Putin´s "achievement" in Ukraine:

He has mobilized the worst elements to be found in the region.
He has taken thugs, thieves, rapists, ex-cons and vandals and turned them into a paramilitary force.
He has permitted ad hoc commanders of separatist groups to kill or chase off intellectuals, journalists and other moral authorities in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.
He has watched as a vodka-soaked rabble army destroys or takes over public buildings, hospitals, schools and municipal offices of the country it is pretending to liberate.
He has allowed a veritable gang war to take hold — without caring that he is losing control of the forces that he has unleashed, with rival bands pitted against one another and carving out fiefs amid the growing anarchy.
Most troubling of all: To this underworld without structure or discipline, to these undisciplined louts who know only the law of the jungle, to this new brand of fighting force that has only the dimmest idea of war and no idea, God knows, of the laws of war — to this motley collection Mr. Putin, the Russian president, gave a terrifying arsenal with which the amateur soldiers were unfamiliar and with which they have been playing, like kids with fireworks.
We know that Russia supplied vast quantities of heavy weaponry to the separatists and trained them to use the SA-11 surface-to-air missile system — the kind believed to have been used to bring down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
One can envision the victorious gang celebrating with its trophy, playing with it as if it were a toy — one that can reach altitudes of over 70,000 feet.
One can similarly imagine Russian military officers — not so secretly assigned by the Kremlin to watch over the missiles and their use by amateur artillery crews targeting Ukrainian military aircraft — being overtaken by events and seized with panic.
One can even imagine their consternation when Igor Strelkov, the self-proclaimed defense minister of the Republic of Donetsk, claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian military plane — which turned out to be Flight 17.
 
 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A question to Francois Hollande


An excellent question:

Garry Kasparov @Kasparov63  ·  5h
Hollande still wants to sell warships to Putin. One question for him: Would he do so if it were 193 dead French on MH17, not Dutch?

Putin should be worried: A public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko announced in the UK

Great news from the UK:

The widow of poisoned Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko has warned her husband’s killers that the “truth will win out” after a public inquiry was announced in to his death.
Marina Litvinenko said that “no matter how strong and powerful you are” justice will be done.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, had told parliament that a public inquiry will now replace the ongoing inquest in the murder of Mr Litvinenko, a former KGB agent, in 2006, as disclosed by The Daily Telegraph.
The Government U-turn means the formal investigation in to his death will now be able to examine whether the Russian state was behind his murder.
The decision is a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time when he is already under intense international pressure in the wake of the Malaysia Airlines atrocity in Ukraine.

Yes, indeed, this is a blow to Vladimir Putin, who most likely was aware of what happened. Justice will finally be done "no matter how strong and powerful you are", as Marina Litvinenko put it ...

David Camerons message to Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel: Stop selling arms to Russia

Kudos to David Cameron for speaking out:

The Prime Minister condemned France’s plans to continue with a €1.2 billion (£950 million) sale of warships to Russia. Germany, France and Italy are responsible for 90 per cent of defence exports to Russia, MPs were told.
Mr Cameron said: “We have already unilaterally, as have the US, said that we would not sell further arms to Russia. We believe other European countries should be doing the same thing. Frankly in this country it would be unthinkable to fulfil an order like the one outstanding that the French have. But we need to put the pressure on with all our partners to say that we cannot go on doing business as usual with a country when it’s behaving in this way.”
The US has also urged the French to suspend the Mistral deal. “The Americans are absolutely furious about the French still training Russian military personnel,” said a diplomatic source.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Davis Cameron is finally getting it: Russian billionaires have started to panic about asset freezes and travel bans

Finally, at least the British government begins to react in the proper way against Russia´s criminal dictator:

Vladimir Putin is a threat to Britain’s economy and the country must be prepared to take an “economic hit” by imposing sanctions to stop him, George Osborne has said.
Russia’s disregard for international borders and role in downing flight MH17 poses a risk to the economy that makes sanctions a necessary price to stop him.
Last night David Cameron told Putin in a “frank” phone call that his “cronies” will face further sanctions within days unless Russia withdraws its support for separatist fighters blamed for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine, killing 298 people including 10 Britons.
Russian billionaires close to Putin have started to panic, according to some business figures in Moscow. --


The asset freezes and travel bans could target large Russian companies listed on the London Stock Exchange such as Rosneft and Gazprom, the energy giants, as well as oligarchs who have supported Mr Putin. Britain will also push for arms deals to be halted, which could trigger conflict with France because it is selling warships to Russia.
Action against Russia’s elite is likely to harm investors, financiers and lawyers in the City of London where they do business, along with the real estate and luxury goods industries who count wealthy Russians among their clients.
The prospect of asset freezes and wider economic sanctions has left Russia’s business elite “in horror”, Igor Bunin the head of the Centre for Political Technology in Moscow, told Bloomberg news. However, they are terrified to speak out because of the threat of punishment. “Any sign of rebellion and they’ll be brought to their knees.”
Mikhail Kasyanov, who served as Prime Minister under Putin from 2000 to 2004, added: “The threat of sanctions against entire sectors of the economy is now very real and there are serious grounds for business to be afraid. If there will be sanctions against the entire financial sector, the economy will collapse in six months.”

Now we have to see, whether Putin´s de facto allies Germany and France will join in ...

One excellent way to punish Putin: No World Cup!

NO!


Here is one excellent way to punish Putin:

How does one punish the autocratic, omnipotent president of a quasi-superpower? It is much harder to do so than to spank the piddling ruler of a smallish rogue state, but options exist. Putin believes that a World Cup in Russia can be sold to his people as an endorsement of his rule. Why should the world become an accomplice in a dictator’s Ponzi scheme of pride? As he preened for the cameras at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, it was clear that Putin regards Russia’s staging of the cup’s next edition as a propaganda godsend, a global vote for his achievements. Imagine his consternation if he were prevented from putting on such a show.

Putin preys on the fact that the West thinks money and sport are neutral, or at least civilizing influences. So when Russian money comes to Wall Street or the City of London, it stops being political for the West; it is also a peculiarly Western conceit that the gathering together for sport has a civilizing effect on the nations participating. But for Putin, money and sport are tools, or weapons. Hosting the World Cup is the weapon he uses to prove to his people that he is all-powerful, that there is no point in opposing him. In letting him host that cup, we all become part of that weapon.

Read the entire article here