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Guardian: The real Putin. A glimpse of the bad old Soviet days

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  • mariuslab2002
    The real Putin A glimpse of the bad old Soviet days Leader The Guardian, Sunday November 2, 2003 The Observer Who does Vladimir Putin think he is? Is he the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2003
      The real Putin

      A glimpse of the bad old Soviet days

      Leader
      The Guardian, Sunday November 2, 2003

      The Observer

      Who does Vladimir Putin think he is? Is he the autocratic former KGB
      man or the would-be reformer and liberaliser of Russia? Is he the
      westward leaning ally of President Bush and Tony Blair, or someone
      whose real affection is for the bad old days of the Soviet Union? In
      the aftermath of the Yukos affair and the arrest of Russia's richest
      man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the question needs answering. Now is
      crunch-time for Mr Putin. He must decide who he wants to be.
      What happens in Russia, despite Moscow's diminished status in the
      world, is still critically important. A member of the Security
      Council and a substantial nuclear power, Russia is also an important
      repository of energy resources. Most importantly, it represents the
      meeting of Europe and Islamic Asia.

      Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State, has said of Mr
      Putin that he has 'two distinct strands' to his personality and
      political ambitions. A harsher assessment is that the more
      authoritarian strand has always triumphed and that the reformist side
      shown to the likes of Tony Blair and George Bush is just a plausible
      front displayed by an effective spy. On the evidence of last week,
      the real Mr Putin is that of the brutal Chechen war, a man who
      greeted the sinking of the Kursk without emotion, and who has kept a
      stranglehold on Russia's media freedoms.

      Mr Putin can no longer have it both ways. His arrest of the one
      remaining oligarch to retain political ambitions, and democratic ones
      at that, presents a challenge to countries such as the US and the UK
      which have received and feted him as a reformer while quietly
      ignoring his troops' excesses in Chechnya. If Mr Putin opts for the
      authoritarian path, then it is time for London and Washington to
      reassess relations.
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