Tag Archives: Revolution

Is it the beginning of the end for Putin?

Vladimir Putin’s new presidential term is just beginning, but it increasingly looks like the beginning of the end. Whenever Russia’s people pour into the streets en masse, as they currently are doing, from that point on things never work out well for the authorities.

In 1917, Russian Emperor Nicholas II had to abdicate in the wake of mass street protests, clearing the way for the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1991, the Soviet Union – then seemingly an unbreakable monolith – collapsed in just a few months. Hundreds of thousands went into the streets to confront the hardline coup against Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika.

Now it is Putin’s turn. …

“Putin’s Final Act” by Nina L. Khrushcheva | Project Syndicate

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Vladimir the Unstable | Foreign Policy

What happens, in other words, is that a paralysis sets in: Those in power see compromise as weakness, while those forced onto the streets by its absence see it as selling out. And the more each side digs in, the less a constructive solution becomes possible. The only way out becomes a revolution and the complete destruction of the status quo. And, as the Russian experience of 1917 and 1991 showed us, striving for a clean slate and a fresh start has a very steep cost.

We saw the seeds of this process in the winter. Addressing a pool of Russian journalists on Dec. 24, four days after an estimated 100,000 Muscovites protested on Sakharov Avenue, an unprecedented number for the past two decades, Putin shrugged and said, “there’s no one to talk to.” In the preceding weeks, he had dismissed the protesters as U.S. State Department pawns, as provocateurs bent on violence, and as the howling, delusional monkeys in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. He even nervously admitted to mistaking the symbol of the protest — a white ribbon pinned to the lapel — for a condom. It didn’t help, of course, when the protests kicked off Dec. 5, Navalny roared into the microphone with the promise that “we will cut their throats.” Or that, in the two days of protests that followed, police arrested nearly a thousand people in Moscow.

Vladimir the Unstable | Foreign Policy

Putin’s paranoia and U.S. relations – MiamiHerald.com

Can Washington have a working relationship with a Russian leader who thinks Americans are out to destroy him? After a week of listening to official anti-American rhetoric on a visit to Moscow, I find it hard to see how.

Vladimir Putin, newly elected to a third presidential term (after an interval as prime minister), has made clear he believes Washington has him in its crosshairs.

“Nobody can impose their policy on us,” he proclaimed to a cheering crowd at his victory rally near the Kremlin. “Our people could recognize the provocation from those who want to destroy the country. The Orange scenario will never work here.”

Putin was referring to the 2004 Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, where street protests overturned a pro-Russian, antidemocratic president.

The Russian leader thinks the United States directed the Orange Revolution. He also thinks that Russians protesting rigged elections are paid by the United States.

Putin’s paranoia and U.S. relations – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com

Vladimir Putin’s regime facing the ‘beginning of the end’: Peter Goodspeed | National Post

Yevgeny Gontmakher, a sociologist at Moscow’s Institute of Contemporary Development, recently suggested Russia could soon be on the brink of a revolution similar to that of 1917.

“The political machine built by Putin was effective in some places until 2007,” he wrote in an article in Nezavismaya Gazeta, “but the regime has started to malfunction, like a car whose guarantee has long since expired and all of whose systems are starting to fail.”

Protests have rattled the country ever since the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections were riddled with allegations of corruption and ballot stuffing.

White-ribboned crowds continue to storm through the streets of Russia’s main cities demanding, “Russia Without Putin.”

Vladimir Putin’s regime facing the ‘beginning of the end’: Peter Goodspeed | Full Comment | National Post

Is China Ripe for a Revolution? – NYTimes.com

What it does face, however, is enormous, inchoate rural unrest. The dark side of China’s economic rise has been a shocking widening of the gulf between the prosperous coast and the poverty-stricken interior, a flourishing of corruption among local officials and, by such data as we can gather, widespread anger and discontent. The government has acknowledged tens of thousands of yearly “mass incidents,” which can range anywhere from a handful of elderly widows protesting a corrupt real estate grab to communities in open revolt (like the southern village of Wukan) to murderous ethnic rioting, as occurred in the last few years in western Xinjiang Province and in Inner Mongolia.

In that sense, it is instead the Taiping Rebellion, which nearly toppled the Qing Dynasty 50 years earlier, that bears the strongest warnings for the current government. The revolt, which claimed at least 20 million lives before it was quelled, making it the bloodiest civil war in history, suggests caution for those who hope for a popular uprising — a Chinese Spring — today.

The Taiping Rebellion exploded out of southern China during the early 1850s in a period marked, as now, by economic dislocation, corruption and a moral vacuum….

Is China Ripe for a Revolution? – NYTimes.com

Putin’s Regime is in Trouble

The history of successive authoritarian regimes in Russia reveals a recurring pattern: They do not die from external blows or domestic insurgencies. Instead, they tend to collapse from a strange internal malady — a combination of the elites’ encroaching disgust with themselves and a realization that the regime is exhausted. The illness resembles a political version of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential nausea and led to both the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Soviet Union’s demise with Mikhail Gorbachev‘s perestroika.

Today, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin‘s regime is afflicted with the same terminal disease, despite — or because of — the seemingly impermeable political wall that it spent years constructing around itself. Putin’s simulacrum of a large ideological regime simply couldn’t avoid this fate. The leader’s “heroic image” and “glorious deeds” are now blasphemed daily. And these verbal assaults are no longer limited to marginal opposition voices. They are now entering the mainstream media.

These two events have rendered Putin’s regime not only illegitimate, but also ridiculous. Even if the regime formally wins the presidential election on March 4, the die has already been cast.

What is happening in Russia today is part of a global phenomenon. Despite Putin’s best efforts to isolate Russia and its post-Soviet near abroad, anti-authoritarian trends in nearby regions, like the Middle East, are infiltrating.

From Protest to Nausea | Opinion | The Moscow Times

A New Russian Revolution – Perestroika 2?

Some Russian analysts are warning that if Mr. Putin persists in this autocracy-as-usual approach he could provoke an even bigger uprising by Russians, who have already gathered for the largest demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But to judge from the official media, if the president perceives a threat, he attributes it to the newly arrived U.S. ambassador in Moscow, Michael McFaul. Mr. McFaul has been pilloried for attending a meeting with opposition activists; it is suggested, darkly, that he has been sent to Russia to foment a revolution.

A new perestroika? – The Washington Post

Putin, Russia and the West – YouTube | BBC Documentary

Vladimir Putin, after eight years as president of Russia and four more as prime minister, is stubbornly holding onto power. He has announced his intention to return as president and declared his party the winner in parliamentary elections that are widely seen as fraudulent. In Moscow 100,000 protesters have taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since Putin took office.

Putin began his career as a KGB spy but when he became president, he made himself a valued ally of the West. How did he do it? And what made Washington and London turn against him?

This four-part series is made by Norma Percy and the team at Brook Lapping with a track record for getting behind closed doors with multi-award-winning series like The Death of Yugoslavia, The Second Russian Revolution, and Iran and the West. For the first time Putin’s top colleagues – and the Western statesmen who eventually clashed with him – tell the inside story of one of the world’s most powerful men.

In this episode, George W Bush meets Putin in June 2001 and declares he looked him in the eye and ‘got a sense of his soul’. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice recall their discomfort. But Rice, the only Bush adviser in the private talks, reveals that, three months before 9/11, Putin gave Bush a prophetic warning about Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban. After 9/11, Putin describes how he convinced his shocked colleagues that Russia should align with the West. Sergei Ivanov, Russian’s defence minister, tells how the Taliban secretly offered to join forces with Russia against America.

Putin, Russia and the West Part 1 – YouTube

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oTKsNF6fpE

Time is running out for economic reform in Russia – CNN.com Blogs

But what has really brought the protesters out into the streets is not a lack of economic diversification but rather pervasive corruption. Perfected at the highest levels of Russian government, and most notably expressed in the Yukos and Magnitsky cases, the average citizen has experienced the brutality of corruption carried out day-to-day by an omnipresent and thuggish bureaucracy. Each year an estimated 15-20 percent of Russia’s economic output goes towards some sort of bribe – whether paying off tax authorities, the police or other local officials – thus creating a significant drag on small businesses and innovation.

While other emerging economies are set to experience double-digit growth over the next decade, the Russian economy weakening. Its stock markets are trading at a severe discount and investors are taking tens of billions of dollars out of the country each year. An estimated $80 billion was lost this way in 2011.

Time is running out for economic reform in Russia – Global Public Square – CNN.com Blogs