The Jubilee

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  • May 2014
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Who is Vladimir Putin – an update

Posted by Alex Krainer on May 20, 2014

The concerted campaign of demonization of Vladimir Putin in western media compelled me to do a bit of digging to try to find out about him. Even though I’d started to doubt the demonization at least since Russia’s military intervention in Georgia (Putin completely pulled the troops out of Georgia within three months of having entirely crushed Georgian military), I still had lowish expectations: the man is a politician, after all. So I was rather surprised to come across an article by one Sharon Tennison who’d worked in Russia for some 30 years and met Putin personally through her work with US non-governmental organizations and diplomatic core. The portrait Tennison painted did not match that of a typical politician: young Putin was into martial arts, he stood up for other kids against school bullies, he was curteous and helpful as a state bureaucrat, he took no bribes, etc… This really did not match the image of a typical politician who is keen to rise to a position of power, and once there does everything possible to stay in power, ethical or not, legal or not… More recently, journalist and author Israel Shamir who spends time between Israel and Moscow offered another glimpse of Putin in his recent article, “Ukraine in Turmoil:”

Putin’s respect for others’ sovereignty is exasperating. I understand this sounds like a joke, — you hear so much about Putin as a “new Hitler”. As a matter of fact, Putin had legal training before joining the Secret Service. He is a stickler for international law. His Russia has interfered with other states much less than France or England, let alone the US. I asked his senior adviser, Mr Alexei Pushkov, why Russia did not try to influence Ukrainian minds while Kiev buzzed with American and European officials. “We think it is wrong to interfere”, he replied like a good Sunday schoolboy. It is rather likely Putin’s advisors misjudged public sentiment. « The majority of Novorossia’s population does not like the new Kiev regime, but being politically passive and conservative, will submit to its rule”, they estimated. “The rebels are a small bunch of firebrands without mass support, and they can’t be relied upon”, was their view. Accordingly, Putin advised the rebels to postpone the referendum indefinitely, a polite way of saying “drop it”.

Shamir’s article is an excellent read and offers a different viewpoint to that offered by the mainstream media in the West. With regards to Vladimir Putin’s character, I do not wish to get my expectations too high; he is in a position of power, and power does tend to corrupt. But since the fate of the world could depend in a rather important way on the way Putin uses the power he wields, I hope that Putin’s character matches more closely the portrait of him painted by Tennison than the one uniformly being projected by western media.

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2 Responses to “Who is Vladimir Putin – an update”

  1. Camillus O'Byrne said

    True, power corrupts . . . the corruptible. Not everyone is. In fact a small percentage of people aren’t, maybe 5%? Usually such people don’t seek power, so it may seem leaders are of necessity unworthy. However, if power comes to such a one they may wield it as a DUTY, especially if they are intelligent and know the ways of the world, realising that if they do not take up the challenge that power will fall to the weak and selfish. Marcus Aurelius and Asoka stand out historically. Thanks for the piece. Important knowledge.

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