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Vladimir Putin's Russia: Soviet Union lite?


owedtojoy

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With the Sochi Winter Olympics now in progress, it is time to turn a spotlight on the Russian state dominated for some time by the figure of its current President, Vladimir Putin.

I took the thread title from an Economist editorial, the main thrust of which was that the Russian economy was built on sand - totally dependent on high oil and gas prices, which may well fall quickly with the new fracking boom in progress. Putin expresses contempt for fracking (and he may even have a point) but ultimately he may regret his words.

To that I add the failure of Russia to built on the technology sector it had under the USSR. I remember the first SLR camera I ever bought was a Zenit-E, and apparently the company still exists, but does it export cameras as a global brand? Are Ilyushin still exporting aircraft? Do they rival Boeing or Airbus? Where is the Russian Huawei? Lada cars, a joke in their day, but so was Japanese manufacturing back in the 1960s, and Chinese/ Hong Kong manufacturing back in the 1970s. Where are Lada now?

After the dismal incompetence and corruption of the Yeltsin years, perhaps Russia did need some state-building and leadership. But Putin seems to have chosen as his model the old Soviet Union, with the worst features of Tsarism thrown in: authoritarian, repressive, conservative, dominating rather than co-operative, and inward-looking.

Now Mr Putin is duplicating a Third World despot - a massive spending spree on an Olympic Games the country can ill afford. The Economist compares Russia 2014 with the USSR 1980 - the year the US electorate was fearful enough to elect Ronald Reagan, who told them that the USSR was surpassing their country militarily, just as JFK told the Americans in 1960. The USSR held a triumphalist Olympics in 1980 in Moscow, yet by the end of the decade, Communism was over, and three years later, the Soviet Union as a Russian Empire was gone, too.

The signs are there - that the Russian people want to be free from government interference and bureaucracy, desire more intellectual freedom and a broadened horizon. Putin cannot deliver, and if incomes start to fall as the decade continues, the Russia of Vladimir Putin may fade into history, just as the Soviet Union did. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.
 
Last edited:

Carlos Danger

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I would say that a fairer comparison could be made to the Romanovs than the Soviets. The chairmen of the old CCCP tended not to be so opulent, or at least they hid their opulence better than Tsar Vladimir does.
 

owedtojoy

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I should have linked to the Economist article:

Putin

 

bormotello

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The signs are there - that the Russian people want to be free from government interference and bureaucracy, desire more intellectual freedom and a broadened horizon. Putin cannot deliver, and if incomes start to fall as the decade continues, the Russia of Vladimir Putin may fade into history, just as the Soviet Union did. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Dream on, too many Russians remember how it what was when they were "free from government interference and bureaucracy" and country been ruled by oligarchs with appointed by them Yeltsyn
 

owedtojoy

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Dream on, too many Russians remember how it what was when they were "free from government interference and bureaucracy" and country been ruled by oligarchs with appointed by them Yeltsyn
The problem is that they never have.

And all they have under Putin is a different group of oligarchs.

Corruption is rampant - an American think-tank reckons it cost Gazprom $40 billion in 2011. And why is the Winder Olympics of 2014 costing more than the summer Olympics of 2012?

As I pointed out, Russia does not have a viable manufacturing sector or export sector other than fossil fuel. It is a classic 3rd world extractive economy, except most of the wealth is accruing to its own elite. No money has been invested into economic diversification.
 

retep

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With the Sochi Winter Olympics now in progress, it is time to turn a spotlight on the Russian state dominated for some time by the figure of its current President, Vladimir Putin. I took the thread title from an Economist editorial, the main thrust of which was that the Russian economy was built on sand - totally dependent on high oil and gas prices, which may well fall quickly with the new fracking boom in progress. Putin expresses contempt for fracking (and he may even have a point) but ultimately he may regret his words. To that I add the failure of Russia to built on the technology sector it had under the USSR. I remember the first SLR camera I ever bought was a Zenit-E, and apparently the company still exists, but does it export cameras as a global brand? Are Ilyushin still exporting aircraft? Do they rival Boeing or Airbus? Where is the Russian Huawei? Lada cars, a joke in their day, but so was Japanese manufacturing back in the 1960s, and Chinese/ Hong Kong manufacturing back in the 1970s. Where are Lada now? After the dismal incompetence and corruption of the Yeltsin years, perhaps Russia did need some state-building and leadership. But Putin seems to have chosen as his model the old Soviet Union, with the worst features of Tsarism thrown in: authoritarian, repressive, conservative, dominating rather than co-operative and inward-looking. Now Mr Putin is duplicating a Third World despot - a massive spending spree on an Olympic Games the country can ill afford. The Economist compares Russia 2014 with the USSR 1980 - the year the US electorate was fearful enough to elect Ronald Reagan, who told them that the USSR was surpassing their country militarily, just as JFK told the Americans in 1960. The USSR held a triumphalist Olympics in 1984 in Moscow, yet by the end of the decade, Communism was over, and three years later, the Soviet Union as a Russian Empire was gone, too. The signs are there - that the Russian people want to be free from government interference and bureaucracy, desire more intellectual freedom and a broadened horizon. Putin cannot deliver, and if incomes start to fall as the decade continues, the Russia of Vladimir Putin may fade into history, just as the Soviet Union did. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.
I hope you're not quoting The Economist when you cite the triumphalist 1984 Olympics which were held in the bastion of capitalism and voyeristic self indulgent excess; Los Angeles, whereas it was the 1980 games that were staged in Moscow and boycotted by the USA and a number of other western nations as a protest against the invasion of Afghanistan.

Apart from that I don't disagree with the general thrust of your post. Putin comes across as very close to an absolute dictator in the same vein as the Soviet leaders pre Gorbachev or the Tsars and Sochi is his vastly self indulgent and grossly expensive vanity project - His Bertie bowl if you like!!!
 

owedtojoy

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I hope you're not quoting The Economist when you cite the triumphalist 1984 Olympics which were held in the bastion of capitalism and voyeristic self indulgent excess; Los Angeles, whereas it was the 1980 games that were staged in Moscow and boycotted by the USA and a number of other western nations as a protest against the invasion of Afghanistan.

Apart from that I don't disagree with the general thrust of your post. Putin comes across as very close to an absolute dictator in the same vein as the Soviet leaders pre Gorbachev or the Tsars and Sochi is his vastly self indulgent and grossly expensive vanity project - His Bertie bowl if you like!!!
Well, I can say this very authoritatively: Capitalism did not collapse 10 years after the LA games, while Communism did collapse 10 years after the Moscow games.

And while I despised the triumphalism of both the Moscow and LA games, LA was as good a spectacle as Moscow, with the difference that the LA games cost the taxpayer or citizen a lot less because the organisers used a corporate sponsorship model.

Like others, I think that Putin's posturing at home and abroad are signs of weakness, not strength, and the economy and politics of Russia are fundamentally unsound. Incidentally, I fear also that China hides instabilities that we are not aware of, but Russia is far worse.
 

parentheses

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I was amazed when I first saw this BBC documentary. Worth watching the first 10 minutes

Putin was intended as a puppet of the oligarchs but he seems to have broken loose. The west has never forgiven him for that

[video=youtube;S1Cib5FMq9A]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1Cib5FMq9A[/video]
 

bormotello

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The problem is that they never have.

And all they have under Putin is a different group of oligarchs.
The only difference that oligarchs don't dictate president what to do anymore
 

owedtojoy

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Russians have a positive view of the USSR. Afterall the russian communist party is the second largest party in todays russia.
The USSR was a criminal enterprise, run by the nomenklatura, but it did at least supply basic services to the masses.

When Communism collapsed, the elite just gave up the illusion of supplying any type of services, went into business for themselves, and expropriated the national wealth for their own use. IN other words, they adopted the most brutal and extreme form of capitalism and corruption.

It is no wonder the Russian people are nostalgic for the USSR, but it is like another planet they will never reach. They would do far better to look at models like Finland or the Baltic States, or even post-Imperial, post-"socialist" India.
 

Warrior of Destiny

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Russians have a positive view of the USSR. Afterall the russian communist party is the second largest party in todays russia.
That's more so down to a lack of any other reasonable opposition party than nostalgia for the Union, they get their support from the old who know no different and the young who are too young to remember the Union but are piss*d that they aren't a global superpower anymore.
 

owedtojoy

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I was amazed when I first saw this BBC documentary. Worth watching the first 10 minutes

Putin was intended as a puppet of the oligarchs but he seems to have broken loose. The west has never forgiven him for that

[video=youtube;S1Cib5FMq9A]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1Cib5FMq9A[/video]
Putin was a Secret-Policeman, any country he runs will be authoritarian, repressive and suspicious of anything that the regime cannot control.
 

parentheses

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Putin was a Secret-Policeman, any country he runs will be authoritarian, repressive and suspicious of anything that the regime cannot control.
And I know you didn't watch one second of the video :roll:
 

owedtojoy

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Putin appears to enjoy widespread support from the majority of Russian people.
Doubtful, but they may be quiescent for as long as the economy holds good i.e. oil and gas prices stay high.

Several prominent Russian opposition leaders were arrested by riot police on Monday night as they tried to protest against a presidential election result that international monitors said was "clearly skewed" in Vladimir Putin's favour.

Russian riot police break up protest against Vladimir Putin's election win - Telegraph
 

owedtojoy

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And I know you didn't watch one second of the video :roll:
No time at the moment.

Do you mean it shows Putin is a pillar of democracy?
 

parentheses

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Russia from 2000 to 2010

Compared to the situation in 2000, the progress made by Russia until 2010 is remarkable: the social product has doubled, foreign trade has quadrupled, debts abroad are reduced to one-sixth of their initial value, wages have increased 2.5 times after inflation, annuities tripled, the poverty rate has fallen by more than half, unemployment has gone from 10% to 7%, the number of births increased by 40 %, deaths have decreased by 10%, infant deaths fell by 30%, life expentancy increased by 5 years, the crime rate has decreased by 10%, murders fell by 50% and suicides by 40%, alcohol poisoning fell by more than 60%.
Why Not Stop Attacking Russia?
 

The Cylon

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I met an ethnic Russian in Baku one time who loved Putin. When I asked her if she thought he was a dictator, she told me that Russia is not like Europe, it needs a strong leader or else there will be anarchy.

I suppose democracy is not for everybody.
 

drummed

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Putin appears to enjoy widespread support from the majority of Russian people.
'Appears' is an interesting word. In a country where journalists who speak out against him get murdered appearance's can be deceptive.

Russia has no functioning free press. What we know is limited.
 

gerhard dengler

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Doubtful, but they may be quiescent for as long as the economy holds good i.e. oil and gas prices stay high.

Several prominent Russian opposition leaders were arrested by riot police on Monday night as they tried to protest against a presidential election result that international monitors said was "clearly skewed" in Vladimir Putin's favour.

Russian riot police break up protest against Vladimir Putin's election win - Telegraph
You doubt that Putin enjoys widespread support?
Why do you doubt this?
 
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