MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin harshly assailed his opponents and accused the West of meddling in Russian politics, telling a parliamentary campaign rally Wednesday that opponents at home and abroad want to weaken the country.Putin’s strongly worded attack on his critics came as he seeks to secure a high turnout and strong support for the dominant main pro-Kremlin party in parliamentary elections Dec. 2. Putin is leading United Russia’s ticket in what is widely seen a maneuver to retain a grip on power after he steps down next spring.
“Those who confront us need a weak and ill state. They want to have a divided society, in order to do their deeds behind its back,” Putin warned, saying a strong United Russia majority in parliament is needed to preserve his course.
Addressing thousands of backers in an event that mixed the flavors of a U.S. political convention and a Soviet-era Communist Party congress, he painted a grim picture of the turmoil in the 1990s in Russia and suggested that his Western-backed political foes were bent on turning the clock back.
That’s awfully damned funny considering this communist party hack wants to turn back the clocks to 1936.
“Now, they’re going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring (ex-Soviet) republics. And now they are going to stage provocations here,” he said, raising the specter of the upheavals that brought Western-oriented leaders to power in Georgia and Ukraine.
The statement appeared to refer to opposition rallies planned this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Police have forcefully dispersed several previous marches and demonstrations, beating and detaining scores of protesters.
Without naming nations or specific parties, he railed against his liberal, pro-business and Communist opponents, evoking the frightening economic and political uncertainty that pervaded Russia in the years before and after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
“If these gentlemen come back to power, they will again cheat people and fill their pockets,” he said. “They want to restore an oligarchic regime, based on corruption and lies.”
Former Warsaw Pact nations got a taste of Western-style free enterprise and democracy, and don’t particularly care for Putin’s crackdown. Legitimate entrepreneurs have suffered greatly under his thumb. The Russian mafia, on the other hand, has run amok. Free speech advocates have been imprisoned and media outlets shut down because of their outspoken opposition to Putin’s regime.
Wealthy businessmen like Mikhail Khodorkovsky have been arrested when proved to be too influential for Putin’s taste:
From the start, Putin understood that private ownership of major business and the profits that result from it, major media and opposition can all limit his power. By offering a “compromise” in 2000, he lulled businessmen into hibernation, while “picking them off” one by one, and taking over their money and media ownerships.
By 2003, Russia had become a “managed democracy” where elections were held, but the media was controlled by the government, opposition was threatened, and the only people who could challenge the President – the wealthy elites – were on the run outside the country or in jails.
(The Eurasian Politician)
……An overwhelming victory for the party, which is expected given the Kremlin’s tight control over the political system, would hand Putin a popular mandate and a loyal parliament to limit the clout of his successor and possibly lay the groundwork for a return to the presidency in 2012 or sooner.
……With the vote closing in, Putin has made a string of often-extravagant appearances, pumping up his image as an indispensable leader part of a choreographed propaganda campaign drawing heavily on imagery from the Soviet era and czarist Russia, periods that evoke pride despite the history of bloodshed and oppression.
……Putin has left it unclear just what role he will play and how he will seek to retain clout. But the calls for him to stay bolster his position by suggesting the people want the president himself, not just his policies.
Putin manipulated the system to leave a loophole the size of the mine pit at Mirny. The scary thing is there’s still allot of older, addlebrained Russians who still pine for ‘Uncle Joe’, and ‘disaffected’ neo-Stalinist punks who haven’t had a “job” since the old State-run economy collapsed. In their warped minds, the Totalitarian State was brutal, but ‘stable’ nonetheless.
The way it looks right now, Russia is squandering its opportunity to join the rest of the civilized world in 21st Century business and government. If they follow Putin’s lead, “Uncle Joe” will be back whether they like it or not.