A joke is making the rounds among Vladimir Putin’s opponents in Moscow: His two main accomplishments as Russia's president are Yuri Gagarin’s trip to space and Russia’s victory in World War II. This biting bit of sarcasm, which takes a swing at Putin's populist rhetoric, actually gets at something much deeper. It reflects Putin’s vision of the country’s development as well as the style in which he communicates with his citizens and the international community. And yet, though people in Russia understand him, those in the West do not.
Russia's newest export: abusing the press
Russia's newest export: abusing the press.
With Vladimir Putin annexing Crimea, inciting violence in Eastern Ukraine, and threatening his neighbor with a massive military buildup, an oft-repeated refrain has reemerged in Western academia: It’s our fault for expanding NATO.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Reading the tea leaves in Ukraine.
And it's asking for your help.
A week before the Olympic Games opened in Sochi, the Kremlin sicced its hounds on Dozhd TV, the last independent news channel in Russia. The channel has been around since the spring of 2010, when the warm breeze of pseudo liberalization swept through Moscow at the height of Dmitry Medvedev's pseudo liberalization.
What a relief
Here's hoping this dampens a centuries'-long identity crisis.
A joke from Odessa: “I stopped speaking Russian,” says a Russian-speaker. “Why?," responds another. "Afraid that Ukrainians will beat you?” “No," the man explains. "I'm afraid Russians will come to protect me.”
It's not over yet.
The foreign media call him the gray cardinal of Putinism. But he's a much more colorful villain than that.