To understand why Russians love Putin, you should look back to his first term — a businessman’s tale

From Fort Russ

Feb 24th
PREFACE by Tatzhit
I translated three short stories that capture very well what Russians think about Putin. To put them in context, I have included my thoughts on the subject in the small “postscriptum” section below. Read my ramblings, or draw your own conclusions.

The first story is written from a first-person perspective, and describes how Russia was before Putin, what he changed, and what people learned from it. Essentially, it explains why even profit-minded businessmen, suffering from economic problems and unimpressed with Russia’s foreign policy, continue to support the current government because of the hard lessons of the 90s.

The other two pieces are from a satirical author, one written about the time when Putin took power, and the other about him later, as the “Tsar”. These two are quite over the top, but I think there is a big grain of truth in them as well – if not about the real Putin, then about the popular view of him.

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#1: A Businessman’s Story
I remember Perestroika well. Marlboro cigs for 1.50 appeared at our supermarket, and we smoked them enthusiastically, sitting in the gazebo at the neighboring playground. The taste of them was magical – far, far better than the Soviet “Kosmos” for 0.70. The future as adults was no longer certain, but also seemed magical through the smoke, like in an American movie. It took me many years to realize why we thought that…

And then everybody was suddenly into politics. Intellectuals all started hating on long-dead Stalin, the Communists refused to compromise, popular newspapers constantly published this or that “historic discovery”. When I returned from the army and saw people standing in lines for some crap cigs from Bulgaria, which were rationed to boot, I first found myself feeling [as a character in a bad comedy, and not Hollywood movie]. But even then, I still did not understand.

That happened later – I stepped into adult life, and understood how politics works.

At one point, watching dumb mugs on TV struggle under the weight of arrogance and inability to form coherent sentences became unbearable. How can those “democrats” run the country, if they can’t even organize their own thoughts? By the time Yeltsin’s tanks shelled their Parliament, I already wasn’t interested – politics turned into a murky sideshow which only occasionally had some effect in real life.

Meanwhile, real life went into full “rat race” mode, chasing money above all, with brief breaks to celebrate small “victories”, ridiculous by today’s standards.

Strolling across flea markets, filled with brand-name clothes all of a sudden. Flashing across night-time roads on my first “beamer”. Endless ruins moving past the train windows, [the country’s factories and infrastructure – sold to murky investors for pennies on the dollar, and immediately scrapped for a quick buck] stretching all the way from Moscow to St. Pete.

It would be wrong to say that we weren’t [celebrating freedom]. After all, freedom is when rules and restrictions disappear, right? There was even a children’s book like this – “A holiday of Disobedience”, [about children who were left to do as they please by their parents, and how short-lived their euphoria was]. That’s exactly what happened – after the official dismantling of the state, it slowly disappeared from people’s heads. Nobody was left to establish order, and the rules were set by those who have managed to steal something big, or bribe their way into government positions.
The whole country played Cowboys and Indians. There was no law enforcement – except those men in blue uniforms who existed solely to collect bribes on highways, and pass almost all of their loot higher up the ladder. Everyone lied and stole. Some guys were dodging the draft, some were stealing from their jobs, nobody I knew paid any taxes.

Yes, a lot of it started back when USSR went off track. But in Soviet times, people still obeyed most laws. They went to official jobs, had apartments they legally owned, etc. Yes, even back then some people bought stuff on the black market and could pay a bribe for a driver’s license exam, but those who did that were a tiny minority. Slightly more people nicked stuff from work, but in general they took something insignificant. Most people could honestly think of themselves as good, upstanding citizens. Plus the “real men” of the WWII generation were still around.

And then, in a few years, the whole country and all its inhabitants became lawless and illegitimate. Getting a fake stamp in your Social Security or visa paperwork became a common thing. You could pay off anyone – the judge, the fire department, the EPA. Businesses completely ignored the government and produced fake financial statements with unbelievable numbers, which worked because the tax collectors knew everything, and were overlooking it for a small sum. “Business raiders” – those who made money by illegally taking over and looting businesses – were heroes on TV. Kids in kindergartens didn’t play Cops vs Robbers – just Robbers vs Robbers [1].

And I was an integral part of this lawlessness. I fudged our accounting books and didn’t think anything of it. I paid wages under the table and casually handed out bribes when I needed to register our semi trucks or buy off a tax inspector. I was kicking out contractors that used my shops to sell their own goods. I smuggled in everything, without a second thought – importing legally did not make sense, we would not be able to compete. I even drove around a car that was imported illegally, and simply bought it back for $100 each time it was impounded. I laundered money via fictional companies, and created legal entities using the identities of hobos from the street. Put forged stamps on forged invoices. I moved cash by the trash bag, and even bought an illegal handgun just in case. I was friends with the mafia guys who were protecting my business, and tagged along when they had “matters to discuss” with rivals.

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Litvinenko: The Russian spy who worked for MI5 / MI6

Global Research, January 24, 2016
nsnbc 23 January 2016

The Inquiry into the death of defected FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko concluded with a report, quoting his wife as saying that he either worked for the UK’s intelligence service MI5 or MI6. The report does not document but “implies” the direct involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among other by quoting Putin as having said that those who murdered Litvinenko were not God, and that Litvinenko obviously wasn’t Lazarus. 

Alexander Litvinenko defected from Russia to the UK in 2000 after an intermediate release from prison. The former KGB, then FSB officer was arrested on 25 March 1999. He was charged and detained in the FSB Lefortovo prison in Moscow. The charges against Mr Litvinenko were of exceeding his authority by assaulting a suspect.

Alexander Litvinenko_UK_Russia_Grave_PDLitvinenko maintained that charges against him were false or trumped-up. He died in the UK in November 2006 after three weeks of illness. The cause of death was determined to have been polonium poisoning. It is noteworthy that the late Palestinian President Yassir Arafat also succumbed to polonium poisoning.

Litvinenko was one of the former KGB / FSB officers close to the Russian oligarchs who secured the re-election of President Boris Yeltsin and usurped de facto power over many of Russia’s governmental and business affairs.

Litvinenko was particularly close to the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky who also fled Russia after the election of Vladimir Putin to the presidency. Berezovsky made his first money selling cars and accumulated his first considerable “wealth” by defrauding thousands of investors in a Russian car production that never manifested. He was first introduced into the inner circle at the Kremlin during Yeltsin’s presidency, after a failed attempt on his life.

The inquiry report implies that the murder of Litvinenko may be linked to Russian legislation adopted in 2006. The first of the 2006 laws was Federal Law no.35-FZ of 2006 – On Counteraction of Terrorism. It was adopted by the State Duma on 26 February 2006, endorsed by the Federation Council on 1 March 2006 and signed into law by President Putin on 6 March 2006. The Terrorism Law runs to some 17 pages and reads as a code providing for anti-terrorism measures to be taken by Russian forces. The inquiry report states that :

One of the striking features of the Terrorism Law is that it makes provision for Russian forces to take action against terrorism beyond the borders of the Russian Federation. 5.5 The Terrorism Law contemplates anti-terrorism action being taken both by Russia’s armed forces, and also by the “federal security service – i.e. the FSB.”

The report resulting from the inquiry into Litivinenko’s death is widely criticized as being biased against Russia and Vladimir Putin. The Russian legislation is comparable to the US Presidential Order that allows the US President to sign daily “kill lists” and similar legislation in many other countries like for example Israel.

One of the most controversial accusations Litvinenko levied against Vladimir Putin was that Putin and the Russian Security Services were implicated in the bombing of apartment blocks. Bombings which were then blamed on Chechen separatists to justify the war against Chechnya and to secure Putin’s power base by distracting from domestic political issues, said Litvinenko.

The report claims that the poisoning of Litvinenko with polonium “may” indeed have been carried out on Putin’s order. The report highlights a quote according to which Putin has said that “Those who killed Litvinenko were not God, and that Mr. Litvinenko obviously was not Lazarus”. 

The inquiry report quotes Litvinenko’s wife Marina Litvinenko as saying that Alexander had been working for one of the UK’s intelligence services. She wasn’t sure whether it was the domestic intelligence service MI5, the foreign intelligence service MI6 or for both. Marina would, however, stress that he was not “an agent” but had been working for them  “as a contractor or consultant”.

Nemtsov’s role in the plunder of Russia in the 1990’s: links to Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky and Soros

From Fort Russ

Boris Nemtsov and Boris Berezovsky

March 9, 2015
Elena KREMENCOVA
Translated by Kristina Rus

Certainly, the performers of the savage murder should be caught and severely punished. However, we will likely not find the true customers. Well, except with nuclear missiles. However, listening last week to the praise for Boris Nemtsov, people in the know were puzzled: Oh my God, is this all really about Nemtsov?!

“Russia is rapidly becoming a colony of China. Russia is losing sovereignty. This is the main point of modern foreign policy of the Kremlin” – accused Vladimir Putin the opposition leader Nemtsov.

Apparently, he forgot that back in 1997 as Deputy Prime Minister himself he initiated this process and arrived in Beijing the day before President Yeltsin to finalize the agreement on the gas pipeline from the Kovyktinskij gas field in Irkutsk region and from Western Siberia to China.

His signature is under the agreement between the governments of Russia and China about the pipeline for transportation to the Chinese of crude oil from Eastern Siberia. Nemtsov participated in the negotiations on the demarcation of the Russian-Chinese border, which ended with the signing of a disadvantageous for us treaty. After which many Russians, to their astonishment, ended up on the Chinese territory.

And what about the agreement with Japan “About some of the types of cooperation in the field of harvesting of marine living resources”? Only business publications briefly reported that the Japanese were allowed to fish in our waters without compliance with the Russian legislation. And after seven years we saw terrible videos about how this is done. The damage to Russia was then estimated at $10 billion.

The Deputy Prime Minister also aided the Chechen terrorists. Personally signed an agreement on the transit of oil through Chechnya, through which the militants received from the federal budget about $10 million in excess fees for oil transit. This instrument of financial support for terrorism from the state worked properly prior to coming of Putin. At the first problems the press howled about human rights violations in Chechnya. And Boris Efimovich got the reputation of an irreconcilable opposition activist.

In one interview he admitted that he agreed to become first Deputy Prime Minister under pressure from Tatyana Dyachenko, who came to Nizhny Novgorod and “begged all night that the President always helped you and now the hour had come when you must help him”. But did not mention that Dyachenko begged him together with Boris Berezovsky, the corrupt alliance with whom by the time of the interview Nemtsov called an absolute lie. However, the jury in the High Court of England came to a different conclusion.

Boris and Boris quarreled about a blocking stake in Svyazinvest. Berezovsky wanted to buy it, but Nemtsov sold it to Soros!

In 1998 Nemtsov founded “The National Fund for Regional Policy” for the transfer of money from offshore companies, including TNK and YUKOS of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Part of the funds went to Nemtsov, “The Union of Right Forces (SPS) and “the human rights defenders”, but most of the money was cashed and disappeared. The loss to the state was estimated at 370 billion rubles. But everything was on the fringes of law, since after the shelling of the White House [in Moscow] in October 1993, the laws were written by scoundrels for scoundrels. And were approved by the cohort of senators whom Nemtsov had joined in December.

His election to the Council of Federation [Russian Senate] was financed by a businessman with a criminal background,  Andrey Klimentyev.

But that’s not all. Two weeks before the default of 1998, Nemtsov announced that he had found $30 million for the Russian Space Agency, which was behind on the production timeline of the Russian segment of the International Space Station. Say, the amount needed for the construction of the ISS was found by VimpelCom for the right to operate at frequencies of GSM 900 in Moscow and the Moscow region. But ISS had received only $7 million. The promise to save “Mir” station has remained only on paper, and experts wondered how much Nemtsov received for assisting the project on ridding the state for the promised $30 million of what is worth $200 million. Financial analysts estimated the commission for the service at 15 percent of projected annual profits of $4.5 million per year.

That is, the story of this gentleman is clear. All the corrupt deals of Boris Nemtsov apparently we will never be discovered. But many still remember the story of the bankruptcy of Navashinsky shipyard and the credit affair with “Nizhegorodets” bank.

John Pilger on modern fascism and the lies of America’s warmongers

Why the rise of fascism is again the issue
By John Pilger
February 26, 2015

ukraine-riots-33

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya. Continue reading