April 22nd 2000


  Buy Issue 2581
Qty:

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Will Telstra be fully privatised?

EDITORIAL: The "stolen generation“

CANBERRA OBSERVED: John Howard trapped in Aboriginal mine field

RURAL AFFAIRS: WA report highlights declining rural infrastructure

HEALTH FUNDS: Will genetic tests lead to discrimination?

ECONOMICS: Lessons from Malaysia's Mahathir

TAXATION: Families may suffer under GST

Why Liberal and ALP economic policies are indistinguishable

RUSSIA: What Vladimir Putin's election signifies

AS THE WORLD TURNS

LETTERS

Globalisation: As capital goes global, unions go global

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: How the "China factor" affects US relations with Asia

Bioethics: Move to harvest human embryo stem cells

INDUSTRY POLICY: Jobs for life: the Nucor approach

TAIWAN: Opposition wins presidential election

BOOKS: 'The Packaging of Australia: Politics and Culture Wars', by Gregory Melleuish

POLITICS: Straws in the Wind

TELEVISION: The Sopranos

Books promotion page

survey link

FONT SIZE:

RUSSIA:
What Vladimir Putin's election signifies


by Vladimir Bukovsky

News Weekly, April 22, 2000
Vladimir Bukovsky is a former Soviet dissident, author and political prisoner.

Can we imagine the news "a former SS-man has become German Chancellor" being greeted with enthusiasm by the West? And yet, this is exactly what happens time and again whenever a KGB man makes it to the top of the Russian pyramid. Starting with Yuri Andropov, proclaimed to be a jazz-loving "closet liberal", followed by his protege Gorbachev, and later Prime Minister Primakov, Stepashin, and now Vladimir Putin, the new President-designate of the Russian Federation - each of them was greeted in his time as the final solution to Russia's problems, as a brave reformer and a guarantor of stability.

Putin's program remains unknown.

Despite the media, he is not even a terribly impressive product of the KGB, with his cloak and dagger career being confined mainly to within the secure perimeter of Eastern Germany and never surpassing the rank of colonel. But the praise and expectations heaped on him in the West are extraordinary. At last, at last we are going to see a radical turn for the better, with law and order being firmly enforced throughout the vastness of Russia, while democracy and the market economy will finally take root there.

Ironically, despite all this hype, no-one can tell anything about Putin's program, or whether he has any. A few quotations from his past speeches, ostensibly favouring democracy in Russia, are floated around, but an equal number of quotations with the opposite meaning can be as easily found. All we really know is that as Prime Minister, he pledged to increase military spending by 57%. In short, we are observing what was predetermined by the last ten years of development, or rather by the lack of it: a return to power of the KGB, with Putin being just a faceless representative of the corporation.

History might judge Yeltsin more leniently than I do, but I cannot describe his Presidency better than a decade of wasted opportunities. When the August 1991 coup collapsed, and power fell into his lap, he did absolutely nothing to finish off the old regime.

At the time of his maximal popularity, when he was practically unopposed, he did not dismantle the totalitarian structures of the state. It was not enough just to seal off the Party's headquarters and to confiscate its property. The other parts of the totalitarian machinery needed to be dismantled as quickly as possible, including the KGB, with its intricate system of secret agents; the monstrously oversized army, with its all too powerful industrial base; and the ministries, which were still controlling every aspect of production and distribution.

Above all, the very essence of the Communist regime should have been delegitimised once and for all by a systematic exposure of its crimes, preferably in an open trial or a public inquiry where relevant documents from the party and the KGB archives could have been presented and publicised through the media.

Instead, all he did was to shuffle the old bureaucracy deck, as a result of which bureaucracy just multiplied like bacilli, filling the vacuum of power. Even his economic "reform", publicised in the West as a step towards free market, was in fact a total disaster.

It "privatised" most lucrative state property into the hands of either the nomenclatura, or outright criminals, while the bulk of the population became 20 times poorer. This alone has discredited the ideas of democracy and market economy for decades to come, thus making old communists look good by comparison.

As for Yeltsin, this disaster signified the beginning of his long retreat. If by the spring of 1992 he had to sacrifice his policy, by autumn he had sacrificed his team, while by the spring of 1993 he was already fighting for his political survival. Even storming the White House in October and dispersing the old Supreme Soviet by force did not make his position more secure: while the new parliament (Duma) was hardly better, from that moment onwards he became virtually a hostage to the "power ministries" (the Army, the Interior and the new KGB - the FSB).

They became the only force in the country which still supported him, although, in Lenin's words, they supported him "as a rope supports the hanged". At the end, he was simply glad to hand his power over to them in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Thus, we are watching now the logical conclusion of this drama, a short tragicomedy of Russian democracy. Needless to say, it does not signify a complete return to the totalitarian past, simply because nothing can bring that back. Ruthless and cunning as it may be, even the KGB cannot perform such a miracle. But they will certainly try.

The way they managed, for the first time in the post-Soviet era, to unite the whole Russian society, including "liberal intellectuals", by the bloody massacre in Chechnya is a harbinger of the things to come. Building the state on the blood of the innocent is their craft, the only way they know how to "guard Russia's national interests". And the result is always the same: much blood and no state ...

Is this really what the West wants?




























Join email list

Join e-newsletter list


Your cart has 0 items



Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers



Trending articles

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal rebuts commission's 'Get Pell' campaign

COVER STORY Anti-discrimination law validates Safe Schools

U.S. AFFAIRS First Brexit, now Trump: it's the economy, stupid!

INDUSTRY AND ENVIRONMENT Wikileaks reveals U.S, funding behind anti-coal campaign

COVER STORY QUT discrimination case exposes Human Rights Commission failings

FOREIGN AFFAIRS How the left whitewashed Fidel Castro

ANALYSIS What is possible to a Trump Whitehouse



News and views from around the world

Frequently asked questions about section 18C (Simon Breheny)

Chilean legislators kill explicit sex-ed program (LifeSite News)

France to ban people with Down syndrome from smiling (The Huffington Post)

Child abuse and family structure: What is the evidence telling us (Family First NZ)

Woolworths beats ACCC supplier mistreatment case (Eli Greenblat)

Australia set to ride the quantum computing wave (Science in Public)

Weatherill warns states could introduce carbon prices (Rosie Lewis)

Green-left legerdemain doesn't make religion relevant (Fr James Grant)

Mass murderer Castro dies unpunished (Augusto Zimmermann)

The rise of political correctness (Angelo Codevilla)



























© Copyright NewsWeekly.com.au 2011
Last Modified:
December 2, 2016, 2:36 pm