When you’re popular, you feel like the world lives for you to step on. Vladimir Putin, the swashbuckling President of Russia, does great these days.
He dumped his old hag of a wife for a new, svelte, young acrobat; he’s entered the real-estate business in a big way, annexing Crimea and more-or-less eastern Ukraine, and his approval ratings have never been better (in the high 80s according to the New York Times).
Of course, behind the Hollywood glitz and facade, the Russian rot grows.
He skillfully hides the kleptocracy that is the Russian government and economy, by casting evil eyes towards the West. It doesn’t hurt that he sends a few jet fighters into NATO territory just to keep the sword-rattling going, and therefore the tawdry patriotism going.
What is that old saying about patriotism being the last bastion of the scoundrel?
He claims the West has disregarded his wishes, yet in Summer 2013, he convinced U.S. President Barack Obama not to bomb Syria over its use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.
We know how that worked out. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed a few chemicals, but kept his chemical factories and continues to use, albeit on a smaller scale, such weapons against his own people.
Obama trusted Putin, but what payback did he get? The invasion of Crimea by Russian troops.
Russia’s economy, depending heavily on oil exports, has been hurt by the recent price drop for oil.
Meanwhile, oil production on state company, Rosneft, needs to rise so what does it do? Find new sites to explore? Perhaps find ways to be more productive with its existing wells?
None of the above. Putin puts a competing company’s owner, Vladimir P. Yevtushenkov (photo, above), under house arrest and seizes the competing company’s shares.
A once thriving oil company, Bashneft, now stands to swallowed up by its state competitor.
Thus is how Russian capitalism works.
Without any real domestic opposition, no one stands in the way of Putin. As for many of his citizens that are hurting in the current economic setbacks in the country?
Let them eat borscht.