Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vladimir Putin, clown

Russia's Putin is merely a figurehead. As a funny writer (whose name I can't recall) recently said, that's why he has so much time to fly with birds and take his shirt off. So who's in charge over there?

I remember when the USSR collapsed and the teevee informed me that democracy had rushed into Russia like magic, and toppled the government. In the aftermath, I wondered where those old KGB types went as all this democracy was rushing in. Did they just disappear?

Someone's always in charge. And it appears that the people who currently pull the strings in Russia are quite happy to have the nitwit Putin as a figurehead. He's so good at misdirecting the media's attention. All he has to do is snap his fingers and they start taking pictures of his manly chest.

This is what Putin does. He tosses shiny things in the air to distract the world and his own countrymen -- things like Pussy Riot, stolen NFL rings, the melding of the Russian Orthodox church with the government, the anti-gay law, and on and on. And all the while, the country's funds are being siphoned away. You can make so much money when no one is watching. So where did all that money go? This is important because whoever has the money, has the power.

That makes this story very interesting. Here's a bit of it:
A staggering 35 percent of household wealth in Russia is owned by just 110 people, the highest level of inequality in the world barring a few small Caribbean islands, a report by a major investment bank says.
How did this come to pass, you may well ask. It was easy:
The fall of Communism saw Russia's most prized assets sold off to a small circle of businessmen later known as oligarchs. President Vladimir Putin allowed them to keep their wealth in exchange for their political loyalty.
Oh, and then there's this:
...[T]he past decade saw a rise of new billionaires who draw their wealth from state contracts and some of whom are known to be the presidents' friends, like Gennady Timchenko.
Sounds quite cozy. I guess those KGB types did very well when "democracy" came to Russia. No wonder they've been quiet all these years.

But I suspect they're making the same mistake the GOP made in the US, when they encouraged the Tea Party and invited it over for a few drinks. As a result of that ill-advised genuflection, the GOP is currently being eaten alive from within. Similarly, when the Russian government joined forces with the Russian Orthodox church, they let loose a rabid monster. In the long run, this beast will rise up and bite them in the ass. Good. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of guys.