Putin is an idiot. He acts as if the rest of the world should take it like the Russians have. One "analyst" who I am sure is only an analyst because he has close ties to the Kremlin said something the other day like, "The West is bothered by Russian involvement in the countries within their sphere. Well, they need to just get used to it." That involvement of course meant pumping lots of money into an election and sending down their media people to help Yanukovych make Yuschenko look like a fascist. (It was reported here the other day that some of those Russian advisors were giddy it the prospect of a Yanukovych win and were laughing about the fact that Yuschenko's face, which is now puffy and pocked and makes him look a full 20 years older at least--he claims he was poisoned by the government--would cost him some of the he's-good-looking-vote. Maybe that was the plan all along?) And it meant a couple of visits to Ukraine for Putin to endorse Yanukovych. This all sounds familiar doesn't it? I read an article which made the point that the reduction in life expectancy for the male Russian was linked to the loss of empire. He's depressed about it. There are rumors that a number of people around Putin are agitating to reconstitute that empire in some way.
But like you say, this Ukrainian situation may just cause Putin to totter a bit. He picked the wrong horse. The Russian press is still flacking for Yanukovych and say that he represents at least half of the electorate. That is half of the electorate after some of the most widespread voter fraud that has been seen anywhere. But even with all of this, Yanukovych still won by only three percent of the vote. With all their efforts they just made it.
And the odd thing is that Yuschenko was more pro Russian business than Yanukovych would be when he was in power. And he probably won't be as pliant a client as they might want. I guess the thing he was counting on is that Yanukovych would be more malleable than Yuschenko. They do after all have Yanukovych's criminal record in their files and that might have given them some sort of confidence.
Friday, November 26, 2004
This is my take on Putin. From an email to a colleague in Europe: