‘The Putin regime, like all such regimes, is a pyramid. And what the protests are doing is dismantling the bottom rungs of this pyramid…..I have thought of leaving, and I have even made plans to leave. The truth is, I don’t want to. I love my home, my friends, my job, my life. And if Putin doesn’t like me, he can leave.’
There is a contention here. Who is going to win in the end?
Well, it depends on the time frame.
No doubt, Vladimir Putin holds all the cards — now.
He is like a bulldog. Contentious. He is holding on to power with a death grip. Yes, some people have been dying — mysteriously.
“… Contending entails competition. Thus to contend with another’s work one must hold one’s ground, hang onto one’s position, stick to one’s intention, tend to one’s business, stay the course, in a word, be tenacious. It is not so much that one is bent on overtaking or outdoing others, as it is having one’s way. Contenders will have their way if at all possible.” Personology, page 77.
As she contends in her book: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin that he is autocratic, secretive, and dangerous.
Over the years, Putin has created an image of himself as a “street thug,” she says, and has made systematic efforts to dismantle the country’s democracy and independent media. In 2004, Vladimir Gusinsky, the head of the largest private media company in Russia, was arrested after a series of raids on his headquarters. Putin’s government alleged that Gusinsky had participated in illegal activity involving an obscure television company. Gessen, who was investigating the story, says the attack on Gusinsky was actually in retaliation for reporting information Putin didn’t want to get out. [Wikipedia]
Putin is slowly but surely becoming the neo-Tsar of Russia. With his KGB background, he is a well versed in cloak & dagger affairs.
“It was somebody’s personal vendetta, and it was clear that charges were switched and charges were created and none of those charges would hold up,” she says. “Ultimately I concluded that the person with the vendetta that I had been looking for this entire time was Vladimir Putin.” Gusinsky fled Russia, which is still fighting for his extradition. Gessen, who was reporting on the story, received a threatening call from a prosecutor in the case.
“I went ahead and published the story, but as soon as the story came out, I discovered somebody outside the door of my apartment — 24 hours a day — and I would ask this man what he was doing there, and he would say ‘fixing,'” she says. “My phone was cut off, and I was told there was a warrant out for the search of my apartment.” Gessen said she immediately realized that she was being intimidated. “It was incredibly scary, and it was driving me crazy,” she says. “I left the country for a few weeks and when I returned, the repairman was gone.”
Other journalists in the country, she says, fared much worse. Several journalists were murdered, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was writing about Chechnya.
Wikileaks revealed the US State Department’s “honest” assessment of Putin’s Russian ways. The trial of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky shows a “cynical system where political enemies are eliminated with impunity” — US diplomats say in classified cables. Attempts by the Russian government to demonstrate the rule of law is being respected during Khodorkovsky’s prosecution are “lipstick on a political pig“.
During his first term in office, Putin moved to curb the political ambitions of some of the Yeltsin-era oligarchs, resulting in the exile or imprisonment of such people as Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky; other oligarchs soon joined Putin’s camp. [Wikipedia]
On the other hand, Russia using its vast natural resources has bounced back from the fall of the Soviet Union to become one of the BRIC countries: economically fast growing countries.
But nothing ever keeps growing forever. The fate of Russia, Putin, and Gessen are in contention. Only time will tell. When will modernity exorcise Genghis Khan’s and Ivan’s ghosts; no one knows, if ever.
I’m actually a fifth generation journalist. My great great grandfather owned a printing plant. . . My mother was involved in self-publishing and was a literary critic. My brother is a writer. We can’t walk a mile without writing a word. — Masha Gessen