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Putin Has Stumbled in Ukraine

Published: August 13, 2014 (Issue # 1824)




  • Photo:

Fifteen years ago onAug. 9, 1999, President Boris Yeltsin stunned Russia with his televised announcement ofVladimir Putins appointment as prime minister, as well as his characterization ofthe new appointee as his successor.

Whatever themotivations behind this choice, it turned out tobe theright one. It was amatter ofhonor forthe second president toshow his personal loyalty andfulfill his obligations tothe first president.

But most importantly, after theupheavals ofthe 1980s and90s, Putin was just thekind ofleader people wanted: not brilliant, but dependable, capable offinally bringing theendless chaos toa close andensuring thereturn ofhope forthe future. Putin, whom few initially considered anappropriate fit forpolitics, consolidated Russian society around theidea ofstability.

Stability inthe 2000s didnt mean stagnation or preservation (there wasnt anything atthat point topreserve); it meant action. Toachieve stability, it was necessary totake aseries ofmeasures torestore themanagement ofthe country, lay afoundation foreconomic development andgive people asense ofpurpose not through abig project (not really Putins forte), but through actively building andimproving their own lives.

But Putin arrived under thebanner ofstability atthe same time that stability was coming toan end inthe world atlarge. He came topower atan uncertain time, against abackdrop ofan eroding world order. This contradiction between internal goals andexternal conditions gradually became more andmore apparent.

TheWest sees Russias president as anenemy ofprogress, asymbol ofoutdated viewpoints andold-fashioned approaches. He, meanwhile, expresses his astonishment atthe policies ofleading nations, which seem tobe almost intentionally adding fuel tothe fire ofinternational conflicts. Faith inthe possibility ofa major deal with theWest, andRussia joining thecircle ofleading nations, has weakened, although Putin did see it as possible when he first took office.

But after Putins return topower in2012, he saw theWest, primarily theUnited States, as themain destabilizing force inthe world. This wasnt due toanti-Russian sentiment inWashington or Brussels (Putin considered that obvious inany case), but tothe Wests thoughtless andarrogant interference inone situation after another, destroying thefoundations ofnational governance.

Many outside observers are sure that Putin is acunning strategist, his actions governed bya larger idea: planned expansion, restoration ofan empire, strengthening theso-called power vertical, areturn tothe Soviet Union, anti-liberal measures, etc.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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