Has Putin won the cold war?

By February 20, 2017US Politics

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in October 1952 in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) and graduated from Leningrad State University with a law degree in 1975. He then entered to Committee for State Security (KGB) as a foreign intelligence officer and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring in 1991 to enter politics, just as the Soviet Union came crashing down around Mikhail Gorbachev’s ears. In 1996, Putin moved to Moscow and joined Boris Yeltsin’s administration and became Acting President when Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999. Putin won the subsequent presidential election easily, with 53% of the vote. He was re-elected President in 2004, with 72% of the vote.

The Russian constitution states that a person is eligible to be elected President if they are “not younger than 35 years of age” and have “a permanent residence record in the Russian Federation of not less than 10 years”. It also states that “One and the same person may not be elected President of the Russian federation for more than two terms running”. The phrase ‘two terms running’ means two consecutive terms. So, after his consecutive terms, he could not run in the 2008 presidential election. Dmitry Medvedev won the 2008 presidential election and appointed Putin as Prime Minister and the pair ruled the country as what has been termed a ‘tandemocracy’. However, there was no mistaking where the power lay; not with Medvedev, but with Putin. This was clearly illustrated by his call-in question and answer sessions which Putin began when he was president. Despite relinquishing the presidency and becoming prime minister, it was Putin who remained in the chair, not giving it to the new president, Medvedev. While president, Medvedev increased the length of presidential terms from 4 to 6 years, presumably as a gift to Putin.

In the 2012 presidential election, Putin was free to run again, and he did so, easily winning with 64% of the vote. He does not have to face another election until 2018, and when that rolls around he will be eligible to run for the presidency again. He will be ineligible to run in the 2024 presidential election, so, if he wants to retain power, he will have to find a suitable stooge, like Medvedev, who is the current Prime Minister. However, it might be too obvious to give Medvedev another crack at the presidency. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has been suggested as a possible replacement presidential candidate. Then Putin can have another go in 2030. He will be in his late seventies then, so it seems unlikely that he would be interested. However, kleptocrats don’t give up easily. Just look at Robert Mugabe, who is soon to turn 93.

If Putin does not run in 2018, as he has suggested he may not, and does finally relinquish power, he will live quite well as it is suspected that, while his name does not appear on any of the documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, several of his close associates, such as Sergei Roldugin (reportedly Putin’s best friend) do. Roldugin has been shown to have a 12.5% stake in Russia’s biggest television advertising agency, Video International, which has annual revenues of over $1 billion. He also has a minority stake in an army vehicle manufacturer, Kamaz, and a 3.2% share in Bank Rossiya, which has been referred to as Putin’s ‘crony bank’. Roldugin is a professional musician, and it is suspected he is acting as a front for Putin.

Another question remaining regarding Putin’s rule, is how much did he influence the 2016 US presidential election. Most people know about the alleged hacking of Clinton’s e-mail server and the release of the many e-mails to Wikileaks, but there was and still is some debate about the source of the hacking.

The Trump dossier is another matter entirely. It is a 35 page dossier compiled by former British MI6 head of the Russia desk, Christopher Steele, initially for Trump’s republican rivals, as a way of sabotaging his run for the nomination. The dossier, which was initially viewed with significant scepticism, is now being taken more seriously. This is in part due to the sort of praise Trump was heaping on Putin during the presidential campaign and the fact that some of the elements of the dossier, not relating specifically to Trump, have been confirmed.

What has given it even more credibility in recent days is the resignation of Michael Flynn, as Trump’s national security adviser, apparently because he ‘inadvertently misled’ the Vice President about phone calls with Russia’s Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. Although the conversations were recorded, the details of those conversations have not been released. The remaining questions are: Did Flynn discuss easing sanctions against Russia prior to Trump taking office and while those sanctions were in place? Did he ask the Russians not to retaliate to the US sanctions imposed on Russia?

This makes one wonder if Trump has been compromised by Russia. Given my admittedly limited knowledge of how things used to be, when attempts at compromising just about any visitor to the USSR/Russia were standard practice, no matter how lowly the person, I’d expect that attempts to compromise Trump would be fairly high on the wish list for the FSB. Given Trump’s narcissism, I expect it would not have been a difficult task for experienced FSB honey-trap merchants. The KGB and its successor, the FSB, have been very good at playing the long game and if they initially compromised Trump, I bet they could not believe their luck when he obtained the Republican nomination, let alone when he was elected president. It has been reported that the Duma (the Russian parliament) broke into spontaneous applause when it was told of Trump’s victory over Clinton. However, this may come back to bite Putin if, as looks likely, the Trump presidency unravels. The reaction to this unraveling may be something he hadn’t bargained on.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Putin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Yeltsin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Gorbachev

http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-05.htm

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/international/2012/04/12/337618/Putin-claims.htm

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/12/30/russia.presidential.term.extension/

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/panama-papers-money-hidden-offshore

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-cyberwar-commentary-idUSKBN12X075

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/world/europe/christopher-steele-trump-russia-dossier.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russian-dossier-on-trump-gaining-credibility-with-law-enforcement/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-russia-dossier-a7574536.html

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