Russian Politics, & Personalities

Posts Tagged ‘Paul Goble

Bonapartism & Putin

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I have a confession: I hate it when people compare Putin to historical figures.  I understand the need for a frame of reference, but I think it is a cop out, and only shows part of the picture.  Putin has been compared to Charles de Gaulle, Ataturk, Pyotr Stolypin, Franco, just to name a few.  But while he, and his leadership style, may have characteristics of those individuals and their regimes, Putin is his own person who was created in the context of Brezhnevism, and the break-up of the Soviet Union (among other things).  This is something I think that people tend to forget when talking of Putin, and Putinism.

All that to say, Paul Goble has translated/summarised a piece by Yury Girenko comparing what Putin is trying to do to Bonapartism.  Girenko seems to think that Putin is failing at it, but that he could still succeed if he wanted to.  It is an interesting analysis of the current situation, though like I said, I am not the biggest fan of historical comparisons.

Written by Nina Jobe

January 9, 2010 at 8:39 AM

Putinism Defined

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Courtesy of Paul Goble.  I am reposting the whole article here, and in the next post I will outline Lev Gudkov’s views of what Putinism really is.  This article is excellent because it raises some good points, and answers some questions I believe we all have on what Putinism really is, and where it is going.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nina Jobe

December 17, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Goble on the Russian Army

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I was reading Paul Goble’s Window On Eurasia blog late yesterday, and this caught my eye because it was in reference to the rumours of a clan war.

…[the] decision to increase its force levels in the North Caucasus points to three important conclusions about policy and politics in the Russian capital, conclusions that suggest some very different conclusions than some have been drawing in recent weeks.
First, this decision suggests that decision making on these questions is still dominated by the force structures around Vladimir Putin who has made no secret of his belief in the efficacy of the use of force rather than by political forces around Dmitry Medvedev who have promoted the idea that Moscow must use economic and social tools to overcome problems in the Caucasus.
Second, it suggests that for all the complaints about the downsizing of the officer corps and the military that have been raised in recent months, the Russian army can still get government support whenever it is in a position to make the case that only it is in a position to guarantee that those who are in power remain there.

Some things to think about, at least.

Written by Nina Jobe

October 30, 2009 at 11:21 AM

Oleg Kozlovsky

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on Mike McFaul and Slava Surkov:

Michael McFaul is known for his sober and clear understanding of the situation in Russia. He barely has any illusions on what the Russian political system is like. But he does really sound like many Realpolitik-infected diplomats, who call the West to turn a blind eye on Russia slipping down to dictatorship.

Is Obama’s administration really going to give the issue of human rights the last priority or how should we understand this “new approach”?

This all ties in with the article from Paul Goble that I mentioned yesterday.  I want to hi-light a few of the more salient parts of Paul’s piece.

Russian rights activists were angered by three things “Kommersant” reported, each of which at least in part McFaul and others have suggested the Moscow paper misquoted him or misconstrued his meaning. First, the activists were upset that the NSC staffer had suggested that Washington will refrain from “public criticism” of Surkov’s beloved “sovereign democracy.”
Second, they were angered that the joint commission on civil society would not include NGO representatives. And third, they were angered by the notion — added it should be noted by “Kommersant” — that McFaul had equated what they do with what Moscow operatives like Andranik Migranyan of the New York-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva at Moscow Helsinki was particularly critical:

“[I]f America says: ‘we have democracy, and you can arrange things for yourselves as you like, then everything the democratic countries have achieved since 1975 will go by the wayside…. [I]f America and the rest of the world will silently watch while freedom of the press is suppressed [in Russia], while meetings and demonstrations are broken up, … while political parties are shackled and elections falsified, … then, in that case, [she said she thought] that the Nobel Peace Prize had been given to Barak Obama prematurely.”

From Bukovsky (who gave a great speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum): “the problem of human rights is directly connected with the problem of international security” because countries that ignore human rights “are inclined to aggression”

But by far the best response was Anton Orekh’s:

“[I]n the struggle for changes in [Russian] society, [Russians] can count only on themselves…. No one except us can resolve this problem,” he concluded, and rather than continue to “appeal to the enlightened West” to come and save Russia from itself, “it would be better [for those who care about human rights and democracy] to more actively work with one’s own citizens however difficult such work inevitably is.”

Some things to think about.

Written by Nina Jobe

October 15, 2009 at 7:44 PM

Special Request

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for a reaction to this whole Iran business.

This will probably sound a bit conspiracy theorist to some of you, but I believe that Russia, and Iran will not abandon each other.  We expect too much if we believe that we can force either side into backing down.  Therefore, this latest announcement from Sergei Lavrov came as no surprise.

While the Iran aspect is interesting, what this story really proves is that Medvedev has no real power or say regarding Russian foreign policy.  The person calling the shots here is still Putin.  This is the political reality of Russia today.  The tandemocracy is not a 50-50 split.  It is probably not even, as Yulia Latynina once said, 70-30.  It is closer to 80-20, and there is not a whole lot we can do to change that.

Which is why I find the Obama administration’s continued attempts to sideline Putin so fascinating.  On the one hand, it could be seen as a smart move, which could result in a boost of power for Medvedev, who hopefully will eventually sideline Putin for good.

But imagine this scenario for a moment: feeling confident because of Obama’s support, Medvedev decides to ditch Putin.  What do you imagine happens?  A super Clan War (way bigger than 06.06, or than the Cherkesov disaster) where the whole Government is split, and the possibility of a military coup looms.  This would tie in with Joe Biden’s idea (that did not come out of thin air, by the way… he read it somewhere) that we want a weak Russia, but I seriously question that claim.

The Obama administration’s policy regarding Putin begs the question, aren’t we just a little full of ourselves?  What makes us think that our approval will help Medvedev in any way?  There is nothing that suggests that is the case, and everything to suggest that this strategy will blow up in our (and Medvedev’s) face.  And that could potentially be a disaster for all of us.

P.S. For a Russian’s view on the Obama administration’s policy regarding Russia, and her government, read Paul Goble’s summary of Anton Orekh’s Ekho Moskvy article.

Written by Nina Jobe

October 14, 2009 at 2:56 PM

More On Gazeta

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article from Paul Goble, translating/summarising Alexei Makarin’s op-ed in “Yezhednevny zhurnal”.  Makarin makes a point that rather resonates with me because of my interest in the Power Vertical, and the Clan Wars.  In my view, there is a group within the Presidential Administration who are advocating a more forceful opposition to Putin & Co.  Members of this movement include Press Secretary Natalia Timakova, the President’s Economic Advisor Arkady Dvorkovich, Head of the President’s Control Directorate Chuychenko, among others.  I believe that members of this group worked together on the “Gazeta” article.

My concern is basically the same as Makarin’s.  That this could end up backfiring on said faction, and cause Medvedev’s early ouster.  This is probably the President’s fear as well, and why he takes German Gref’s MO of forward, then retreat.

In what appears to be Putin’s response to the Gazeta article, the PM said today that he may run for President in 2012, but that he and Medvedev will “decide together”.  I happen to believe that Putin will go the special election route, and that Medvedev will not be consulted at all, but I am a self-confessed conspiracy theorist, so there you go.