Back in the mid-1980s, the US CIA did not expect the USSR to collapse in just a handful of years. But Al Fin’s advisors and mentors did. And they were right.
In 1986, when asked if the CIA was doing anything to prepare for regime change, Robert M. Gates, then the CIA’s director of intelligence, replied: “Quite frankly, without any hint that such fundamental change is going on, my resources do not permit me the luxury of just idly speculating on what a different kind of Soviet Union might look like.” __ Back to the Future: USSR
But that’s alright, because “like a bad penny,” Russia is falling back into the bad habits that made the USSR such a happy place in the memories of western leftists and Russian communists.
A biology institute at Russia’s largest and most prestigious university has instructed its scientists to get all research manuscripts approved by the security service before submitting them to conferences or journals.
… “This is a return to Soviet times when in order to send a paper to an international journal, we had to get a permission specifying that the result is not new and important and hence may be published abroad,” says Mikhail Gelfand, a bioinformatician at MSU. __ Nature
In fact, under Putin the Russian nomenklatura is 5X larger, more privileged, and more dangerous than its USSR predecessor.
“Having received almost unlimited power, the NOMENKLATURA has also expanded to unheard of size: there are now five to six times more bureaucrats in a Russia with 140 million population than there were in the entire USSR with its 286 million residents.” They’ve filled up all the old government buildings and erected more.
… “In short,” he concludes, if the nomenklatura state remains in place in Russia, then “Russia alas has no future, and the situation which exists now is for 90 percent unenviable and possibly even tragic. For this, one can say a big ‘thank you’ to the nomenklatura powers that be.” ___ Gennady Gudkov
The USSR’s famously bureaucratic lack of any sense of humour is again showing its straight face in Moscow:
Speaking this weekend, the 91-year-old [former US President Jimmy] Carter said he had offered to provide Russia with accurate maps of Syria so its pilots could actually target Islamic State positions in the country — rather than U.S.-backed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad….
“I sent him [an e-mail] message on Thursday [October 15] asking him if he wanted a copy of our map so he could bomb accurately in Syria,” Carter said.
He added that the next day the Russian Embassy “called down and told me they would like very much to have the map. So in the future, if Russia doesn’t bomb the right places, you’ll know it’s not Putin’s fault but it’s my fault.” ___ http://www.rferl.org/content/the-kremlin-doesnt-get-carter/27320930.html
Read the article linked to above to learn what the humourless Kremlin spokeswoman actually said in response to Carter’s offer.
Why One author and blogger Misses the USSR
I miss the fairy tale Marxist ideology, which placed the domestic and international orders neatly into compartments of “class struggle,” “anti-imperialist struggle,” “dialectical materialism,” “proletarian internationalism,” etc. I miss the cryogenic political structure from the politburo on down to factory komsomol committees. And I miss sparring with Soviet zombie-diplomats who clumsily repeated Moscow’s mendacious party line on any given issue. Wonks like me eagerly consumed the incessant propaganda bilge that streamed from Pravda, Izvestia, and Radio Moscow as we did our morning latte, seeking to discern subtle policy shifts and power struggles between the lines. The rigidity was predictable.
… [And then, unfortunately, along came Putin] As a kid, [Putin] prowled the mean streets of Leningrad picking fights with other kids. His dream, which he realized, was to become a secret police agent. As a KGB officer in Dresden, East Germany, he reportedly cheated on and beat his wife. His mass thievery of Russian resources and his cozy relationships with sleazy Russian business oligarchs are well documented. Here’s a guy who baldfacedly stole the New England Patriot owner’s 5-karat diamond NFL ring, valued at $25,000. His subversive aggressions against neighboring countries are taken directly from the playbooks of Hitler and Mussolini — sans charisma. He rattles the Russian sabre as the economy slowly slides into negative territory and his country’s population continues to decline. Putin has no compunction about tossing the chess board aside and making his own rules.
Unlike his concrete-faced Soviet predecessors, Putin takes high risks in a strategic and ideological void. This makes him unpredictable and the risk of unforeseen military clashes high. And this is why I miss the Soviet Union. __ James Bruno, spymaster, novelist, and blogger
Meanwhile, in Putin’s Russia, the country is falling into the stifling and stagnating dual traps of censorship and self-censorchip. Of course it is not only religious themes that are being censored and self-censored. It is any topic that could be connected in any way with Russian politics and the Putin mafiocratic inner circle. Positively Orwellian, old chap!
Putin would like to rebuild the USSR both in body and in spirit. He is doing well on the “spirit” front, but he must still reconquer several nations that are currently sovereign, before he is able to reconstitute the old USSR in time for it to fall apart, yet again.
Belarus is the latest independent nation under the Kremlin crosshairs. Here is how Belarusian researcher Viktor Denisenko lays out the scenarios of Moscow’s hybrid war against Belarus:
[Russia may choose one of two different approaches:] The first, which could be called “without Lukashenka,” would arise in a situation in which the current Belarusian president would have somehow left his post. Moscow would then declare any succeeding government “illegitimate” and seek to overthrow it by supporting pro-Russian forces within Belarus in the name of stability and the defense of its “compatriots.”
But the second variant of hybrid war would be one “with Lukashenka” still in place and the Kremlin deciding to removing him from office, first by spreading compromising materials about him and then by more active measures. In this case, Davidenko said, Moscow would talk about defending a fraternal people and ensuring stability as well.
In either case, Denisenko suggested, Belarus would likely lose and become either a Russian protectorate or be directly incorporated into the Russian Federation with the complete loss of its sovereignty. He said he does not see any possibility that Belarus could win if Moscow were intent on victory and can only hope that this situation does not arise.
In Putin’s wacky world of “Let’s Bring Back the Threat of Global Thermonuclear War,” no possible moves are off the table.
But weird Vlad wankervich had best hurry, if he wishes to have any country left at all. Demographic decline is back in the cards, and expected to accelerate more rapidly than ever, with the steep dropoff of Russia’s population of young and fertile females. Brain drain, womb drain, capital flight, infrastructure decay, a rapid rise in mortality rates from alcohol and tobacco-related causes, rising rates of IV drug use, HIV, MDR TB, and suicidal despair, are rocking the financially depressed world of Vlad the embalmer.
Russian pensioners are not getting the pensions they were promised, and state employment outside the military and propaganda bureaus is being downsized — with many employees going to work but not getting paid!
Can Russia still be saved? The proper question to ask is, can Russia’s young women and girls be saved?
The answer is, not nearly as many as might have been, had Russia taken a different turn at Albuquerque.
Vladislav Inozemtsev, from the Center for Post-Industrial Studies in Moscow, said the likely outcome is a retreat into autarky and pauperised decline, ending in withdrawal from the global trading system. “This way leads us towards a quasi-Soviet economy detached from the world and, at the same time, proud of its autarky; towards a deteriorating economy which compensates for the drop in living standards with pervasive propaganda,” he wrote.
Smarter journalists, academics, think tankers, and government officials would have seen it coming.
As a middle-ranking KGB officer who loved the Soviet Union, Putin lacked the perspective of senior officers, who knew full well the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own inefficiency rather than because of Western plotting, Bukovsky says.
“It leads him exactly to… repeat the same mistakes. He wants this whole country to be controlled by one person from the Kremlin, which will lead to disaster,” he says.
Putin’s decision to invade Crimea was taken quickly and impulsively, by a small group of his favoured top officials. That means Putin has no one to warn him of the long-term consequences of his actions, and until he finds out for himself, he will maintain his course. That means relations with the West will remain uncomfortable, especially in areas he considers to be his “zone of legitimate interests”. __ http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26769481
The people with the most to lose: Citizens of former Warsaw Pact and Soviet bloc nations that were bullied so badly by Russia in the bad old days. They have a closer view, and can see the signs of recidivism in Putin’s actions and his eyes — if not always in his words.
Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has caused jitters in the tiny Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, which all regained their independence with the split-up of the Soviet Union. Russia frequently complains about discrimination against ethnic Russians in the Baltic countries.
… “Putin won’t stop in Ukraine,” commented Ukrainian political analyst Taras Berezovets, who was previously an adviser to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. “His next target is Kazakhstan.”
… Mr. Berezovets said he believes that Mr. Putin also has designs on Belarus, which also has a large ethnic Russian population.