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Posts Tagged ‘Putin’

Rise of the Autocrats: Liberal Democracy Is Under Attack

Posted by hkarner - 15. Juni 2018

Date: 14-06-2018
Source: DER SPIEGEL

Autocratic leaders and wannabes, from Putin to Trump, are making political inroads around the world. In recent years, Western liberal democracy has failed to live up to some of its core promises, helping to fuel the current wave of illiberalism.

The Era of the Autocrats

Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t actually all that interested in football. He’s more of a martial arts guy, and he loves ice hockey. But when the World Cup football championship gets started on Thursday in Moscow, Putin will strive to be the perfect host. The tournament logo is a football with stars trailing behind it, evoking Sputnik, and a billion people will be tuning in as Putin presents Russia as a strong and modern country.

During the dress rehearsal, last summer’s Confed Cup, Putin held an opening address in which he spoke of „uncompromising, fair and honest play … until the very last moments of the match.“ Now, it’s time for the main event, the World Cup, giving Putin an opportunity to showcase his country to the world. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Putin’s Secret Services: How the Kremlin Corralled the FSB

Posted by hkarner - 31. Mai 2018

Date: 31-05-2018
Source: Foreign Affairs By Andrei Soldatov

In April, a series of protests hit the Moscow region. They were neither overtly political—citizens were protesting toxic landfills in their neighborhoods—nor very numerous, comprising, at most, a few thousand people in a region of over seven million. At their peak, people took to the streets in nine towns surrounding the city.

The protests, however, seemed well coordinated, and in some towns, the city authorities supported people and granted them permission to protest. Even for officials, it was difficult to ignore the awful smells emanating from the landfills, or the furious mothers and fathers of poisoned children. One of these cities was Serpukhov, some 60 miles south of Moscow.

One week after the protests started, an official from the Serpukhov district, Alexander Shestun, was invited to the Kremlin. There, he met with Ivan Tkachev, a general from the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s powerful intelligence agency and the successor to the Soviet-era secret police, the KGB. Apprehensive about the meeting, Shestun decided to secretly record the conversation, which he later posted on YouTube.

In the recording, Tkachev threatens Shestun. “You will be steamrolled if you don’t resign,” he says. “You will be in prison. Like many before you, you don’t understand, it’s a big [purge].” Intimating that he was receiving orders from the Kremlin, Tkachev then lists several top-level officials who had already been jailed, including a general from the interior ministry and two governors. Tkachev even suggests that Andrey Vorobyov, governor of the Moscow region and former chair of the ruling party United Russia, could be the next target. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Roman Abramovich’s visa woes signal a shift in British policy on Russia

Posted by hkarner - 28. Mai 2018

Date: 24-05-2018
Source: The Economist

Vladimir Putin has long blurred the line between private and state interests. Now, so is the West

FIFTEEN years ago Britons searched the internet and learned to (mis)pronounce the name of an exotic Russian who had just bought an English institution, Chelsea football club. “He is Roman Abramovich, the major shareholder of Sibneft, one of the largest oil companies in Russia…one of his closest friends is Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia,” the Daily Mail told its readers. Over the next few years the papers fell in love with “Red Rom”, as the Sun dubbed him, who poured money into Chelsea. His marriages, divorces, yachts and parties made excellent copy. He became a celebrity—the most famous Russian oligarch in London.

This week Mr Abramovich made headlines again, for his absence from Chelsea’s cup-final tie with Manchester United. Chelsea won that match. But Mr Abramovich may lose a different game. His British visa expired last month and has not been renewed, putting his London mansion and football club out of reach. It is unlikely to be a glitch. As one of Britain’s richest domiciles, his case would probably have been considered by the home secretary. Rules introduced in 2015 require new checks. He has been asked for information about the source of his wealth and about his character. If the Home Office finds his answers unsatisfactory, his entry may be declined.

The source of Mr Abramovich’s wealth has not changed since his arrival in Britain, and nor has his character. He was one of the most influential Russians in the late 1990s, who assisted Mr Putin’s rise and benefited from it. What has changed is the relationship between Russia and Britain. Russia’s apparent use in March of a military-grade nerve agent against Sergei Skripal, a former double-agent living in Britain, tipped that relationship into open confrontation. As part of Britain’s counter-offensive, Theresa May has put together an international coalition against Russia and pledged to crack down on Russian money that is used to harm Britain and its allies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to Stop Vladimir Putin’s Mafia

Posted by hkarner - 24. April 2018

Date: 23-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The real enemy is a group of about 100 beneficiaries of the regime and several thousand accomplices.

After Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, I predicted that Russia’s stance toward the U.S. would become more antagonistic. Vladimir Putin always needs a foreign enemy to rally his nation around him and divert attention from the poor Russian economy. Mr. Putin’s aggression has indeed managed to raise tension between the U.S. and Russia. But instead of reinforcing Mr. Putin’s narrative by punishing Russia as a whole, the U.S. should target its response toward Mr. Putin and his inner circle.

Mr. Putin’s conflicts with the U.S. are clearly intended to improve his reputation among the Russian people. Through his policy and rhetoric, Mr. Putin has spread the notion that the U.S. is a cunning enemy trying to undermine Russia and is responsible for Russia’s every problem at home and abroad. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The West’s Crisis of Confidence

Posted by hkarner - 20. April 2018

Carl Bildt was Sweden’s foreign minister from 2006 to October 2014 and Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994, when he negotiated Sweden’s EU accession. A renowned international diplomat, he served as EU Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Special Envoy to the Balkans, and Co-Chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference. He is Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe.

Even barring worst-case scenarios, the West will be facing a new world with new aspirants making new demands about the future. So it would be a fateful mistake to abandon the ideas and institutions that delivered prosperity and stability in previous decades.

STOCKHOLM – In an age defined by US President Donald Trump’s rage, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revisionism, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unbridled ambition, the international order is becoming increasingly disorderly, dysfunctional, and even dangerous. How did we arrive at this state of affairs? And how can we leave it behind?

Until recently, the era following World War II was a time of benevolent liberal internationalism. The postwar order had begun to take shape as early as 1941, when US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill drafted the Atlantic Charter on a ship anchored in Canada’s Placentia Bay. Though Hitler had been victorious on the battlefields of Europe, Churchill and Roosevelt were determined not only to defeat the Nazi onslaught, but also to lay the groundwork for a future of peace and democracy. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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U.S.-Russia Tensions Catch Up With Metals Tycoon Oleg Deripaska

Posted by hkarner - 18. April 2018

Date: 17-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Proximity to President Vladimir Putin helped billionaire but is now a liability

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and eight of his companies this month, among other Russian targets.

Last fall, Oleg Deripaska ramped up Russia’s presence in Western markets when he pulled off London’s second-biggest corporate listing of the year. Now the metals billionaire is on a U.S. sanctions list and that firm has lost roughly half its value.

The reversal of fortune reflects the arc of the Kremlin’s efforts to build political and financial relations with the West over the past two decades.

Mr. Deripaska’s proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin helped lure Western financiers seeking to invest in Russian commodity riches. He used wealth and influence to build bridges with Western elites, throwing lavish parties at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and rubbing elbows with senior politicians, including Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and George Osborne, then British member of parliament and a future chancellor of the exchequer.

On April 6, Mr. Deripaska’s ties to Mr. Putin became his biggest liability. The Trump administration levied sanctions against him and more than three dozen other Russian officials, tycoons and companies in response to what it calls Russia’s “malign activity,” including meddling in U.S. elections, which Russia denies. Mr. Deripaska said the reasons for blacklisting him are “groundless, ridiculous and absurd.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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What Putin Won in Russia’s Election

Posted by hkarner - 23. März 2018

Nina L. Khrushcheva, the author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics and The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, is Professor of International Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute.

Over the course of his 18 years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has veered from embracing the West to vilifying it. His reelection – with record-high turnout and support – suggests that his bet on nationalism has paid off handsomely, and that Russia is headed for a long period of stagnation.

MOSCOW – At the beginning of his presidency in the early 2000s, Vladimir Putin was a pro-Western island in a sea of anti-Western Russian elites. As I observed at the time, his desire to “anchor Russia firmly to the West” stood in stark contrast to the country’s traditional notions of security. But after Sunday’s presidential election, in which Putin cemented his vision of Russia as a military bastion, it is clear that now his island is nationalism, and will remain so for as long as he rules the Kremlin.

The danger this poses is all too clear. After 18 years in power, Putin now goes even further than his Soviet predecessors in casually raising the prospect of a nuclear conflict with the West. This aggressive rhetoric seems to have served him well in the election, the result of which has essentially granted him carte blanche for his fourth term. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Putin’s Key Oligarch Escapes Sanctions

Posted by hkarner - 18. März 2018

Date: 17-03-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder aids Russia’s ambitions in Eastern Europe, but has dodged Western attention.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2017.

Hitting upon a potent response to Vladimir Putin were Obama sanctions targeted at his top cronies, later adopted and extended in last year’s bipartisan legislation signed by Donald Trump.

Sanctions aimed at key individuals can be surprisingly effective, it turns out. They help to undermine internal support for the regime or at least its most unattractive policies.

One oligarch, though, remains overlooked. Arguably he is the most important of all. That’s former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Mr. Putin has worked with astonishing success to reorganize energy logistics in Europe to isolate, threaten and intimidate strategic countries, especially Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic nations. Mr. Schroeder has been his vital helpmate at every step. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Trump, Putin, Xi – was macht sie einander so ähnlich?

Posted by hkarner - 13. März 2018

Gero Jenner, 13/3

Wie Unternehmen funktionieren und welche Voraussetzungen dazu erfüllt sein müssen, das weiß man heute ziemlich genau. Produzierende Betriebe sind auf eine Infrastruktur angewiesen, die eine verlässliche Zufuhr von Energie und Grundstoffen (oder Vorprodukten) erlaubt. Hinzukommen muss in der Regel noch ein staatliches Ausbildungssystem, das dem Unternehmen ein entsprechendes „Humanmaterial“ anbietet. Unternehmen verfügen über einen Entscheidungsspielraum, was die Aufteilung des erwirtschafteten Gewinns unter Mitarbeitern und Eigentümern betrifft, hier kann der Staat lenkend eingreifen, aber das gilt nicht im Hinblick auf das Verhalten eines Betriebs zu seiner Umwelt. Hier ist der Entscheidungsspielraum so eng wie bei einem Motor, der nur dann verlässlich und dauerhaft läuft, wenn er konstant mit Energie und Rohstoffen gefüttert wird. Da gibt es keine Abstimmung und keine Demokratie. Im wesentlichen wird Unternehmenspolitik daher auf monarchische bis diktatorische Art betrieben. Einzig der japanische Kapitalismus beschritt mit dem sogenannten Ringi-System, wo alle wichtigen Entscheidungen den einzelnen Abteilungen zur Abstimmung vorgelegt wurden, zeitweise einen anderen Weg – gerade solange wie die japanischen Betriebe so billig produzierten, dass sie der Konkurrenz gegenüber einen bedeutenden Preisvorsprung besaßen – da konnten sie sich ein so schwerfälliges System noch leisten. Inzwischen gehört die innerbetriebliche Demokratie auch in Japan der Vergangenheit an.

Moderne Industriestaaten gleichen großen Konzernen Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Could Putin and Xi Undermine Their Own Rule?

Posted by hkarner - 8. Februar 2018

Date: 07-02-2018

Source: Foreign Affairs By Alina Polyakova and Torrey Taussig

Subject: The Autocrat’s Achilles‘ Heel

Great power competition is back. Russia and China—two great powers with autocrats at their helms—are actively testing the durability of the international order as the West seemingly retreats. Russian President Vladimir Putin, unfazed by Western sanctions, not only led a disinformation campaign in Western democracies to disrupt major elections, but continues to maintain Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, is projecting China’s military power into the South China Sea and its economic might across Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Both countries also seek to influence democratic states through the use of “sharp power.” Aware of Russia and China’s growing reach, the Trump administration made the right decision to identify the two nations as U.S. competitors in its recently released National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. For the first time since September 11, 2001, great power competition, rather than global terrorism, is considered the number one priority for U.S. national security.

There seem to be no effective checks to Putin and Xi’s growing ambitions. Both leaders, however, could be making a strategic error. They are staking their countries’ futures, and international trajectories, on one thing:

themselves. Throughout their respective reigns, Putin and Xi have taken steps to consolidate their personal control on power. This may work as a stabilizing mechanism in the short term, but in the long term, can exacerbate inherent domestic tensions that could eventually undermine their rule. Putin and Xi face two similar dilemmas as long-time autocrats of large countries: managing brutal elite competition for loyalty and succession, and balancing international ambitions with deepening tensions between the central government and restive regions. As both leaders seek more “wins” to justify their personal control at home, they may increasingly pursue riskier and bolder foreign policies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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