: Russian Empire - Reloaded

Sep 14th, 2004, 07:08 AM
Sep 13, 12:09 PM (ET)

MOSCOW (AP) - Responding to a series of deadly terror attacks, President Vladimir Putin on Monday moved to significantly strengthen the Kremlin's grip on power, with new measures that include the naming of regional governors and an overhaul of the electoral system.

Putin told Cabinet members and security officials convened in special session that the future of Russia was at stake and urged the creation of a central, powerful anti-terror agency.

"The organizers and perpetrators of the terror attack are aiming at the disintegration of the state, the breakup of Russia," he said. "We need a single organization capable of not only dealing with terror attacks but also working to avert them, destroy criminals in their hideouts, and if necessary, abroad."

Putin's declaration followed a series of stunning terror attacks blamed on Chechen rebels, climaxing in the three-day school seizure in southern Russia in which more than 330 people were killed.

He said he would propose legislation abolishing the election of local governors by popular vote. Instead, they would be nominated by the president and confirmed by local legislatures - a move that would undo the remaining vestiges of the local autonomy already chipped away by Putin during his first term in office.

Putin explained his move by the need to streamline and strengthen the executive branch to make it more capable of combating terror.

His critics immediately assailed the proposal as a self-destructive effort that could fuel dissent in the provinces.

"The abolition of elections in the Russian regions deals a blow to the foundations of Russian federalism and means the return to the extremely inefficient system of government," said Sergei Mitrokhin, a leading member of the liberal Yabloko party.

Sergei Markov, a political analyst with close ties to the Kremlin, said the president's move against the governors could help curb corruption that has flourished in some regions.

"At the same time, it means ... a lowering of (their) general political authority and a serious lowering of political pluralism," Markov told Ekho Moskvy radio.

In another move aimed to strengthen the federal authorities, Putin recommended eliminating the individual races that currently fill half of the seats in the national parliament and have the entire lower house filled by parties on a proportional basis.

Putin said that the move would help foster dialogue by expanding the clout of political parties, but his opponents warned it would further increase the clout of the Kremlin-controlled parliament factions that already enjoy an overwhelming majority in the lower house, the State Duma.

Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the few opposition deputies, scorned the president's political proposals and said if they were approved, "the next Duma will be simply virtual, it will consist of just marionette party lists and won't enjoy any authority."

"How is it possible the president doesn't understand that it won't strengthen the country, it will further tear apart the unity of the country and tear federal organs power away from the people?" he told Ekho Moskvy radio. "Yes, the Kremlin's authority will be strengthened, but the country will be weakened."

Although Putin has been criticized for strengthening his own powers in the past, three weeks of violence and the deaths of 430 people have led to increased support among the Russian people for measures to combat terrorism.

Putin named one of his closest confidants, Cabinet chief of staff Dmitry Kozak, to represent him in the southern district that includes the Caucasus.

Putin said official corruption that had helped terrorists - such as the issuing of documents "leading to grave consequences," should be punished with particular severity.

He also signaled a possible government crackdown on Islamic groups, proposing that extremist organizations serving as a cover for terrorists should be outlawed.

A new structure called the Public Chamber would strengthen public oversight of the government and the actions of law enforcement agencies, he said. The chamber would involve non-governmental organizations and other groups in the fight against terror.

Putin said that terrorism is rooted in the North Caucasus' low living standards, in widespread unemployment, and in poor education.

"This is a rich, fertile ground for the growth of extremist propaganda and the recruitment of new supporters of terror," Putin said. "The North Caucasus is a key strategic region for Russia. It is a victim of terrorism and also a springboard for it."

Sep 14th, 2004, 08:36 AM
Once a KGB man, always a KGB man...

This latest development is really scary and will do nothing to improve the terrorist situation. If anything, it may reverse recent progress against corruption.

Sad day for Russia. And no alternative. I guess public dissent is the only way now... :rolleyes:

Sep 14th, 2004, 08:40 AM
Using the "Fight Against Terrorism" as a way to grab power....

can anyone say PATRIOT ACT ?

makes you wonder where everyone's heading.

Sep 14th, 2004, 11:29 AM
Seems there is a "second law of geopolitical dynamics "- every reaction.....etc. :(

Fragmenting and hardening geopolitical spheres.
Gonna get worse as population and energy pressures rise.
Butterly effect...one guy flaps his lips in the Whitehouse........hurricane for the planet.

sow the wind.

Anyone catch the 9/11 Commission interview last night on CNN??
Some of them "get it"....big time.
"American policy failures"....no one is listening.

Now Putin has his reson d'etre to harden another sphere.


Sep 14th, 2004, 01:56 PM
This is such a tragedy.

The world would be a better place with a strong, powerful, democratic Russia. The counterbalance it would provide is something we need.

It is also tragic for Russians. A country so blessed with natural & human resources will never reach it's potential under this type of government.

A great opportunity slipping away.

Sep 14th, 2004, 02:07 PM
The only 10 years of pseudo-democracy the country EVER had was when pensions became worthless, the army got even more corrupt and humiliated, the Yeltsin cronies stole everything in sight, the Ruble collapsed (was it 3 times?), and Western trash started to dominate life everywhere from track-suit fashion to compulsory strip routines in every restaurant selling fake caviar...

So along comes Mr washing powder who has the courage to reign in the more obvious robber barons (probably for the wrong reasons) and actually acts instead of talking. No wonder he is popular even if the mild dictatorship he has installed is not that far removed from that of Belarus's clown Lukashenko...

I think that he pushed the envelope way too far on this latest one. Short your Russian shares!

Sep 14th, 2004, 02:32 PM
and the consequences of mishandled opportunity by Bush and Co.

Terror sours Russia on West


Terrorism darkens every society where it strikes. The tragedies of the past two weeks in Russia have spawned an angry defensiveness and a sense of encirclement that is strikingly similar to the mood in America during the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Similar, except in one respect: Russian anger and grief have fed into a larger feeling of resentment toward the West.

President Vladimir Putin's outburst last week against alleged Western exploitation of Russia's internal turmoil reflected widespread sentiment. And if the East-West estrangement deepens, the terrorists who struck in southern Russia may have achieved a victory they could not possibly have contemplated.

Not all Russians feel that way. But, among many intellectuals in particular, there's a sharp change from just a few years ago, when the country was just starting its passage out of communism and everything Western seemed wonderful.

The change came home to me last week in Veliky Novgorod (Great Novgorod), an ancient Russian city on the banks of the Volkov River, 250 kilometres south of St. Petersburg.

It was a revealing moment at a conference between prominent Russians and a group of Western academics and journalists invited to spend three days together discussing Russia's 21st-century future. The school siege was drawing to a close and many of us stole moments away from the discussions to gather at the hotel bar, where the TV was showing the first horrible footage of escaping children.

The Russians watched mostly in silence, occasionally gasping at the pictures, some brushing away tears. A few muttered angrily about the incompetence of authorities at the site.

Inside, a special panel was discussing Russian security issues.

The panelists gingerly avoided mentioning what we had seen on television, preferring to concentrate on the "international terrorist threats" facing Russia.

One of the Western participants, British journalist Jonathan Steele, got up in anger.

No one, he said, seemed to want to address the key issue: the failure of Russian authorities to address the separatist movements in Chechnya and the northern Caucasus.

The Russians reacted as if they had been struck. The real problem, they responded heatedly, was the West.

"The Russian military establishment feels the West has deceived us," complained Andrei Kokoshin, deputy chair of the Russian parliament's committee on international affairs.

In language curiously close to what Putin himself would use a few days later, he said, "It seems like the West is trying to destroy us, now that the Soviet Union doesn't exist any more."

Several Russians in the audience, including journalists who had once been ardent pro-Westerners, stood up to echo his comments. Others vehemently disagreed, but they were in the minority.

After about 20 minutes, things quieted down. We were soon all friends again. But it was clear a line had opened up, one that would not easily be crossed. This was an officially sponsored conference, paid for by the state press agency and many of the Westerners who were there all veterans of the Soviet era wondered if the Russian participants themselves now felt called upon to echo the official line. But the emotions behind the comments were unmistakable:

A long-simmering feeling of betrayal at the West's "broken promises" from the expansion of NATO to the lack of investment in Russia's embryonic capitalism added to Russians' sense of isolation.

At the very least, such a mood is convenient for Putin, who has (for the moment) been able to deflect anger away from his government for its failure to stop terrorism.

A recent poll showed that nearly 60 per cent of Russians supported the president's handling of the school siege. Whether the anti-Western mood will be reflected in official policy is another question. One senior Kremlin official who met us in Moscow later insisted Russia was still anxious to co-operate with the West.

But it also evidently wants to discourage Westerners from posing uncomfortable questions about human rights, press freedoms, or the arrests of leading businessmen like billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

We don't criticize you about the way you deal with terrorism or civil turmoil, Russians say. So leave us alone.

What the anti-Western mood does is enable Moscow to press home the argument that no one can be expected to look after, or understand, Russian interests except Russians themselves.

It's a mood that will inevitably lead to larger and more fundamental disagreements on issues far beyond terrorism. Not all Russian intellectuals and politicians buy the official line.

"This is a society now run by the secret services," fumed one conference participant who had been a leader of Moscow's pro-democracy movement in the 1990s. "It's no way to develop Russia."

Or to achieve a safer world :(

Sep 14th, 2004, 03:01 PM

Sep 15th, 2004, 02:34 AM
Vladimir Putin and the Chechyen separitists were both VERY big problems long before George W. ever came to power.

Post-communist Russia has been doing rather well lately. This might give Putin some traction. For a while.

BUT...I honestly believe that the Russian people will rise up and cast him off like a bad habit if he tries to go back to the old Soviet ways. They...like pretty much EVERYONE who used to live in any of the other "socialist workers paradises"...are pretty much determined to leave this sort of dysfunctional system in their wake. BIg Time! ;)

Still...Putin worries me. So does the Chechyen situation.

And I think that Al Qaeda and the radical Islamic movement have a LOT more to do with the problem than the current US administration does.

Brainwashed ideologists may tend to disagree with me on this, though....

Certainly wouldn't be the first time, would it? ;) graemlins/lmao.gif graemlins/lmao.gif

Sep 15th, 2004, 08:15 AM
Chechyen situation. the term is Chechen oh great white chief

Sep 15th, 2004, 08:39 AM
can anyone say PATRIOT ACT ?That's exactly right, what do you think it was modelled after? graemlins/lmao.gif graemlins/lmao.gif

The old 'Soviet Civil' policies are pretty much the same in every way.

Just one example, in the old days when travelling to say Moscow it was expected that your hotel room and luggage would be search by security. In the US anyone travelling there can expect the exact same treatment as it is now with the boundaries of the 'act' to allow this.

Welcome home Nicolei.... :D

Sep 15th, 2004, 08:41 AM
Brainwashed ideologists

Oh you mean like those I listened to on CNN the other night discussing how flawed American foreign policy was and how it was breeding terrorism very successfully..

......THOSE idiots, sorry ideologists OH I get it. :rolleyes:
Y'know the ones from responsible for the 9/11 Commission report

Yeah they don't agree with you either. tongue.gif