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A Senate Report about Vladimir Putin: the malign influence behind right-wing, anti-democratic forces in the US.

2020-12-09
sleeping ‘cat’ in a zoo– personal album

This is a little off topic, given today’s report that 104,000 people in the US are hospitalized with COVID-19, but this afternoon I chanced upon a Senate report from the Committee on Foreign Relations about Vladimir Putin. The report explains how Putin is engaged in subversion outside of Russia to fortify his interests. The Senate doesn’t go into detail about how Putin secretly supports and encourages right-wing, anti-democratic forces in the US.

Putin’s interests in the US happened to coincide with those of the soon-to-be former president in his campaign for election. Putin offered to help that campaign, but his overtures were met with confusion rather than coordination. You’ll have to fill in the details from reports in the US media and other non-Senate sources.

The Senate report describes Putin’s ascent to power and his malign actions in democracies through-out the world (although it doesn’t go into any detail on his US activities.) The report also describes how Putin cheated in the Olympics, assassinated rivals and journalists, conducted cyberattacks, and so on. The report includes US and European attempts to defend against Russian subversion.

This report is deeply sourced and describes Putin in chilling detail. It is available from the US Government Printing Office online here and is dated January 10, 2018. A supporting document dated October 24, 2017 from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) that describes how Putin’s wealth is held among his family and friends is available here.

The Senate report describes how Vlad the Impaler (you know, Dracula) was picked by his predecessor Yeltsin because Vlad was available and showed an ability (as director of the Federal Security Bureau or FSB) and willingness to help him. Putin blackmailed Yeltsin’s opponent, the prosecutor general, who was investigating Yeltsin’s role in Kremlin corruption.

As acting authority, Putin apparently had a role in major bombings that were blamed on terrorists from Chechnya in 1999. Putin declared war on Chechnya and his popularity rocketed from 2 percent to 53 percent in a few months. After being elected president, Putin protected Yeltsin’s family from prosecution when he stepped down.

Putin then centralized power in himself by indirectly routing all levers through his presidential office. He proceeded to end the independence of Russian media. He used his family and friends to control vast sums of money. He effectively nationalized organized crime. He forced oligarchs to give up their political power to him, while allowing them to keep all their ill-gotten gains from the privatization of Soviet state-owned assets in the 1990s.

Russia is now fully controlled by authoritarian institutions masquerading as a democracy. When necessary, Putin uses his ability to blackmail or extort the oligarchs for state purposes. If he sees his popularity waning, he invades Georgia (the country) or Crimea (the peninsula formerly controlled by the country of Ukraine.)

With the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Russian prosperity has been deeply hurt by the collapse of oil prices. Since Russia’s economy depends heavily on exploitation of its oil reserves, it has few alternatives to obtain hard currency by exports.

Russia has suffered as much as the US from the pandemic, and the Russian vaccine has been critical to relief from its economic depression. The Green Energy revolution is equally inimical to Russia’s prosperity.

Right-wing, anti-democratic forces in the US are working in Russia’s interest. They can be expected to violently oppose any development of renewable energy, even though it is already cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels. This is the real secret behind the power of he-who-must-not-be-named: he is backed by Russian disinformation and fifth-column subversion.

This theme will be further developed in another blog post.

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