Thursday, February 07, 2008

Good czar, bad czar

Something very bad has happened in Russia in the last eight years: the rise of Vladimir Putin and the new Russian mafia state. Contrary to myths still repeated in the West, this period has not seen Russia become more stable or a nicer place: on the contrary. The Russian state has prospered, because it's seized control of Russia's oil and gas wealth. It's now become another petro-dictatorship. The decline of Russian society, arrested in the 90s, is accelerating.

But there's also a whole army of bagmen (consultants, lobbyists, etc.) out there who've clouded the issue both here and especially in Europe. The West lacks the clarity on the issue that it had during the Cold War, even though Russia is causing problems in Iran and is about to in Kosovo. This is not the 90s "holiday from history" any more. And there's no good czar - Yeltsin - to deal with.

Bad - bad - czar - bad - bad.

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