Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday criticized Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, accusing him of placing a “time bomb” under the state, and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government, AP reports:
The harsh criticism of Lenin, who is still revered by communists and many others in Russia, is unusual for Putin, who in the past carefully weighed his comments about the nation’s history to avoid alienating some voters…..Putin’s assessment of Lenin’s role in Russian history during Monday’s meeting with pro-Kremlin activists in the southern city of Stavropol was markedly more negative than in the past…..
As an example of Lenin’s destructive legacy, Putin pointed at Donbass, the industrial region in eastern Ukraine where a pro-Russia separatist rebellion flared up weeks after Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. More than 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict since April 2014, and clashes have continued despite a February 2015 peace deal….Putin’s criticism of Lenin could be part of his attempts to justify Moscow’s policy in the Ukrainian crisis, but it also may reflect the Kremlin’s concern about possible separatist sentiments in some Russian provinces.
Putin was particularly critical of Lenin’s concept of a federative state with its entities having the right to secede, saying it heavily contributed to the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. “It was a time bomb under our state,” he said, adding that Lenin’s was wrong in a dispute with Josef Stalin who advocated a unitary state model.
The US Treasury has told a BBC investigation that it considers Putin to be personally corrupt.
The US government has already imposed sanctions on Mr Putin’s aides, but it is thought to be the first time it has directly accused him of corruption. His spokesman told the BBC that “none of these questions or issues needs to be answered, as they are pure fiction”. Last week a UK public inquiry said Mr Putin had “probably” approved the murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko…..
Adam Szubin, who oversees US Treasury sanctions, has told BBC Panorama that the Russian president is corrupt and that the US government has known this for “many, many years”.
He said: “We’ve seen him enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalising those who he doesn’t view as friends using state assets. Whether that’s Russia’s energy wealth, whether it’s other state contracts, he directs those to whom he believes will serve him and excludes those who don’t. To me, that is a picture of corruption.”
The retired British judge Robert Owen was wrong to say, in his very thorough report on the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, that Putin “probably approved” the killing, argues Stephen Sestanovich, a professor at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Wrong for three reasons, he writes for The Wall Street Journal:
First, because doing so diverted attention from the inquiry’s incontrovertible findings. Second, because Mr. Owen doesn’t really have any idea. Third, it’s a superfluous indictment: A system in which Mr. Putin ordered the killing would not be any more shocking or horrible than the one we know exists.
The report is an impressive reconstruction of how the poisoning took place, says Sestanovich, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy and the author of “Maximalist: America in the World From Truman to Obama.”
His protection of the people who arranged the now well-known murder of Sergei Magnitsky leaves no doubt on this score. Vladimir Putin seems to believe that pulling on the string of corruption and impunity, which define the system he has built, would eventually bring it crashing down. He is, as Mr. Owen might say, “probably” right.
But Russia remains more stable than it seems, according to a STRATFOR analysis.
Perhaps the greatest impediment to understanding the prospects for instability in Putin’s Russia is the West’s strong tendency to project Western values and rationale onto a Russian system where Western assumptions simply do not hold, it contends:
What is worse is that Putin and the Kremlin recognize this tendency, view it as a quaint element of the West’s worldview and work actively to exploit it. Putin aggressively asserts that Russia is a democracy, with elections, a parliament, laws, judges and yes, even protests against the government. Putin understands that these claims will cause Western world leaders to make certain assumptions, such as, “Putin would never do X, because the Russian people would not stand for it”. What is often overlooked is that neither Putin nor the Russian population would make anything like such an assertion. And while some will call it a return to the Cold War days, perhaps the best way to assess the plans and intentions of the Kremlin is almost purely in realpolitik terms. Putin will always act first in his own interest, and then in what he perceives to be Russia’s interest.