Sunday, June 1, 2014

Russia From Gorbachev to Putin

           Russia After the Fall of the Soviet Union

   The most important and least understood event of recent times was the fall of the Soviet Union. Seemingly no one bothers to look into it because they believe they already know the answers. Most commonly cited is the failure of communism which cannot work we are told. Others believe it was a simple triumph of freedom of democracy. While there is some truth to both in that the Soviet system produced strange economic problems of it's own, and people were tired of state censorship and longed for the forbidden glamorous media and products of the west. Still as we shall see if life in the soviet union could be stagnant the introduction of free market reforms would prove absolutely catastrophic. As for freedom Yeltsin actually reversed many of the democratic reforms of Gorbachev so he could ram through his western dictated and Oligarch favored  Free Market reforms. I can't claim to have discovered the why. I can only comment in passing that the role of western intelligence in subverting and destabilizing Russian society has been vastly underestimated. One need only look at Chechnya which was the site of a US, Israel, GCC, and NATO etc, backed destabilization attempt reminiscent of Syria a continuation of the covert GLADIO B war on central Asia that began in the mid 70's.  Chechnya was also the source of the dominant faction in the mafia wars that raged in the early 90's. More prosaically US soft power gave it's usual disastrous economic advice. The fall began actually in the Gorbachev era with his westward looking advisers, sometimes creating intentional disasters. It was Gorbachev's ill conceived war on Alcohol to name just one example that caused an explosion of Organized crime and state corruption. These tendencies would be carried to explosive extremes in the Yeltsin Era.
   The real cause strictly speaking of the collapse of the Soviet Union is known if seldom mentioned  it was a power grab by Yeltsin. A brief note on Yeltsin I'll say Yeltsin did this or Yeltsin did that it is purely for the sake of brevity. Most so called world "Leaders" don't actually make policy their advisers do. In Yeltsin's case this is even more true. He was more like some hapless  medieval monarch then a modern leader he was constantly drunk and completely out of touch with reality. Whichever faction could gain the favor of his fickle daughter would make the policies. But back to the immediate cause for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was in charge of the Soviet Union his vision of the future was that the Soviet Union would become a Scandinavian style socialist democracy. Yeltsin had come to power in Russia he was popular for his role in resisting a half hearted attempt by certain elements of the KGB to prevent the coming collapse of the USSR. In order to seize power from Gorbachev he met with the heads of Ukraine and Belarus and they agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union they would each rule their own domains. It was totally Illegal but of course the west was overjoyed and the matter was quickly forgotten. Next in order to push through his "reforms"; which actually meant selling out the entire country to a small number of his supporters; he waged a literal war on his own Parliament shelling it with Tanks and artillery. Over 1000 people were killed according to some reports although the official number is only 100. Again he was lionized sometimes in order to save Democracy you must destroy it. The people he was firing upon were called hardliners and gullible western readers believed them to be Crypto-Stalinists. In reality they merely objected to slashing benefits and favored a slower approach to privatization. Still the Orwellian western Media managed to portray the most blatantly undemocratic thing you can do the armed suppression of the Parliament, as a triumph of democracy. It was in the Yeltsin years that the President assumed the imperial powers that Putin is so harshly criticized for possessing. After destroying his opposition Yeltsin pushed forward a new constitution that Gave himself vast powers. As for a so called free press this was nothing more then a Corporate press. The press became a tool of the oligarchs and during the 1996 election they used it to keep the Communists from winning the election. With the help of amphetamine injections for Yeltsin to help him function despite his alcoholism Yeltsin became the center of a massive propaganda campaign dwarfing anything since the Stalin years.  On the other hand the media could produce quite interesting dirt when the oligarchs were squabbling. The strategy of leaked tapes we see today in the Ukraine Media war definitely had it's origins in 90's Russia's media wars between dueling oligarchs. They all had their own privatized spy agencies.
   The economic "reforms" were a disaster. The very word reform is of course a triumph for money power. Reform used to be meant to curb the abuses of capitalism, Now reform is a codeword for enabling the abuses of Corporate power. When Clinton reformed Wall street he empowered the kleptocrats. When he reformed welfare he destroyed it. I mention him simply cause he and Yeltsin pretended friendship but whenever Yeltsin asked for anything it was refused. Russia's economic reforms were clearly part of western Geo-Strategy the Chaos and suffering they produced were not accidental byproducts but part of an ongoing plan for the complete dismemberment of Russia. To give some Idea of the suffering of the Ordianry People in the City of Moscow alone 300,000 people became homeless. Paul Klebnikov a free market Idealist points out that statistical analysis shows that over 3 million people died as a result of the so called free market reforms. While communism may have failed to provide store shelves full of the latest fashions it is an objective fact that under capitalism there was a massive increase in poverty disease, ignorance and  crime. A joke circulating Russia in 1992 went Question: "What did capitalism accomplish in one year that Communism couldn't accomplish in 70." Answer: "Make communism look good."
   Meanwhile for those with the right connections they made fortunes, although they lived in constant fear of their own life. Over 800,000 former soldiers and athletes became hired muscle. To be a Businessman first you needed the backing and protection of an organized crime group this was called "having a roof". Of course the big money was in having the right government connections to get in on looting the country. One man came to epitomize the era Boris Berezovsky. You'd think upon receiving some massive state enterprise and becoming an instant corporate mogul you might try to make it into a success. This is the naive belief of free market economists. In todays world that sort of thinking is for suckers. Instead the goal is to gain control of a company without actually owning it then you start up some more companies that you can use to swindle the first company. You set up financial holding companies that charge exorbitant fees. You sell off the companies products to one of your companies for less then they cost to make then resell them for way more. Berezovsky for instance used his influence with the car company Autovaz to sell him cars for less then they cost to make and then he resold them at huge profit. Then he'd pay off the board of directors by making them partners in the looting process. The more companies he destroyed the more money he made. He had close connections to Chechen mafia from the start and survived an assassination attempt by the Russian mafia. He was a citizen of Russia, Israel, and the US. From car dealer he rose to be a major player in the Media, the Oil industry, metals, and cars. He also left quite a trail of bodies on his way to the top. Being an Obstacle to his plans usually meant ending up mysteriously dead. Unless of course you were powerful enough to resist him. The Oligarchs engaged in bitter rivalries and would try to bring one another down in disgrace. A fall from grace could mean imprisonment or death. As for the normal people in this new democracy they were regarded as beneath contempt. It was the Custom of the Oligarchs in the Early days to drive on the sidewalks with absolutely no regard for the lives of the Pedestrians. Later they had their own special roads reserved for the political and economic elite. Since the Oligarchs lived life in constant danger they were into extravagant spending and luxury. While millions starved they spent fortunes on mansions flashy clothes foreign cars and trophy wives. Like their western counterparts they liked to party hard. Mostly though they were concerned with their machiavellian life and death struggles with one another as well as stealing as much money as possible and shipping it overseas. Increasingly they didn't want to even be in Russia and spent their times on the beaches in the south of France or their London homes.
    Meanwhile while most of the populace struggled merely to survive, and the Oligarchs engaged in their power struggles the US and NATO were not idle. Secretly the cold war had always been a one sided thing. Far from struggling to take over the world the USSR was trying to be accepted by the west. Gorbachev thought that if he showed his willingness to cooperate Russia could become a partner with the west. Famously he offered no resistance to the reunification of Germany on the condition that their would be no eastward NATO expansion. Gorbachev was a fool. Far from seeing the end of the cold war as an opportunity for cooperation with Russia, US Strategic planners instantly realized that the balance of power had changed and they set out to take full advantage. The most horrendous example of this was in Europe was Yugoslavia where the US and NATO intentionally started a civil war.(read Fools Crusade   By Diana Johnstone) The country was dismembered. In the newly created Kosovo the US Built a Massive military base camp Bondsteel. Mores subtly they merely expanded NATO all over Eastern Europe. In fact as documented by analysts Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and also by Rick Rozoff on his Stop NATO Website NATO is expanding globally. As early as Bush I the doctrine had arisen that America was now the sole superpower and must ensure no new rivals. However when the Wolfowitz plan was revealed it sounded so sinister that it was disavowed. Then during Bush II it was unveiled again and has become known as the Bush doctrine. It was Clinton who probably did most to put it in practice. During his administration NATO signed preliminary agreements with most of the former Warsaw pact countries. This included Estonia and Latvia where people were denied the right to vote based on their ethnicity Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, and Belarusians were all openly denied their civil rights. They were also right on Russia's border which is more important from a Geo-Strategic standpoint. While Yeltsin drank his way through the 90's Russia was surrounded by enemies. Quite strange things were happening in the former soviet satelites. In Lithuania and the Czech republic returning to capitalism wasn't enough for the new elites they decided to restore feudalism by turning back the clock to pre World War One conditions when the nobility owned the land, millions were thrown off their land so it could be returned to the descendants of the aristocracy. Nor is Ukraine the only country that has seen fascist resurgence in Estonia and other places they hold rallies celebrating the SS Veterans of their land.
    Thus Russia around the year 2000 was in a state of chaos. The standard of living kept dropping, poverty, crime chaos disease, starvation. The government was the plaything of corrupt Oligarchs. It was increasingly surrounded by NATO. It's allies were under attack. Actually no matter what things were about to change. The Oligarchs did not know this however. They were afraid that foreign policy mastermind Yvgeny Primakov would become president they threw their backing behind Vladimir Putin believing he would be the perfect puppet. Vladimir Putin had been a KGB agent stationed in Eastern Germany when the berlin wall fell. After the failed KGB coup (he wasn't involved)  he resigned and became an aide to a St. Petersburg politician. He was hard working and reliable and he eventually began to work for the Yeltsin Government. He helped destroy some Yeltsin Rivals and Berezovsky decided that he should be the next President. The Oligarchs launched another public relations campaign glorifying Putin. When Chechnya attacked Dagestan possibly at Berezovsky's urging, who did not just have connections with the Chechen Mafia but with the separatist government and the terrorists there backed by the usual suspects. Putin who clearly understood that Chechnya was an attempt to begin dismembering Russia and who hated the fact that Yeltsin had granted them Autonomy after a failed war brutally cracked down.  Thus from becoming a virtual unknown he became popular overnight. This was because the Chechens launched over the top terrorist attacks targeting Huge numbers of civilians at a time and were wildly unpopular. Many accusations blaming these attacks on Putin were generated by Berezovsky by the way who had far more connection to the Chechens.
   Thus the Oligarchs thought they were installing an obedient puppet. They vastly underestimated the resentment the patriotic Putin felt about what had happened to Russia during the Yeltsin and the Gorbachev years. When some Oligarch would challenge him he would make clear on a number of Occasions that he regarded all of them as thieves. The age of impunity was over and oligarchs began to end up in jail. Even Berezovsky did not escape punishment. He made it clear to the rest that they would be able to maintain their fortunes only if they did not interfere in Russian politics.
   He attempted to rebuild Russia's international prestige. He adopted the so called Primakov doctrine named after his created by his opponent in the Presidential race. Primakov docrine meant that Russia should seek Eurasian integration and Build strong alliances with China, india and Iran. India prefers to align itself with the west but created closer ties with Iran and China. He also centralized control by personally appointing the governors. While Putin's government is less democratic Russia is far less Chaotic then during the Yeltsin years. Also unlike Yeltsin who the west praised as a paragon of democracy he has yet to open fire on the parliament. Many of his powers come from the Yeltsin Constitution which was praised by the west at the time. He regained control of the Russian energy sector which like the US he regards as a strategic asset. Standards of living began to rise again although the damage has yet to be repaired. Thus Putin is extremely Popular in Russia and is supported by the majority of the Population despite the Insinuations of the western Media. Actually after the Yeltsin Years the Russian word for democracy became a slang term for shitty. A democratic restaurant or club meant a run down place that let in anybody. Meanwhile they began to refer to proper democracy as Shitocracy. Apparently the two words sounds similar in Russian. The attempted Color Revolution to prevent Putin from returning to the presidency in 2012 was a dismal failure. All those wonderful sounding concepts that they dreamed of before the fall of the Soviet Union had turned out to be dangerous illusions. Western style representative democracy is a joke far from rule of the People it really means rule of the oligarchs the few. The Russians found that out the hard way.
    As for the west it is unclear if people will ever wake up to this fact. What happened in Russia is happening in the west only slower. Poverty is on the rise all over the world. Our stock exchange  Oligarchs may have to be more subtle then Berezovsky in their thefts but they are destroying companies and looting  countries all the same.  Capitalism is Eating itself all in the name of a purely abstract form of wealth numbers on a computer screen. Meanwhile Putin is demonized for three main reasons. First the crackdown on Oligarchs. People actually have the nerve to turn the fact that these thieves who caused untold human suffering remember three million people died before their time(see godfather pages 105-109) , into a human rights case. Thus cracking down on traitorous billionaires who subvert the political sytem is considered undemocratic. Second Putin has banned foreign funding for NGO's ruining Washington's "double track policy." It's an innocuous name but what it literally boils down to is we'll negotiate with you when it serves our interests while secretly working to overthrow you. This is not an exaggeration but in Diplomatese it is called "working with Democratic Forces" these are just the sort of democratic forces that Victoria Nuland Bragged the US had given 5 billion to over the past 20 years. In other words democratic forces means  NGO's created by the NED and often secretly infiltrated by the CIA that try to lay the groundwork for a color revolution. Third Putin is demonized for standing in the way of US plans for Global Hegemony. Putin opposed the Iraq War along with France thus the lack of Security Council Authorization and the  "illegal" nature of the war harped on by liberals as if as long as the security council says it's OK it's fine to kill a million people in an aggressive war. When the US wanted to invade Iran in 2008 Russia threatened War. Then again in 2013 Russia threatened to defend Syria plus it provided a Face saving diplomatic solution. Two countries escaped untold destruction because of Putin's actions, this is the real reason why the US is starting Cold War 2.0.
    Thus while Putin is no angel, at least he makes some effort to rule in the interests of the Russian people. That the US wants to Destroy Russia isn't just some theory but has been written about time and again by Zbiegniew Brzezinski and other top technocrats. Since the fall of the Soviet Union the US has been on an Imperial rampage. They want to create a huge war zone across the Eurasian Landmass they call it the arc of crisis. Read and read between the lines of Brzezinski's Grand Chessboard. Russia and China on the other hand would like to see a stable and peaceful Eurasia. Whatever the failings of the two countries it is the US and it's many client States that are trying to take over the world. It's official policy. To see Russia and China as the aggressors and to buy into the absurd Orwellian propaganda being spewed in the press is to turn truth on it's head.  It was not Russia and China that have recently invaded countries all over the world it was the US. We should also given what happened in Russia's economy begin to Question the free market orthodoxy. It's time to set the historical record straight free market capitalism produces a few billionaires while impoverishing the population. Everyone says Communism was a failure but Capitalism proved an even greater failure. The  US and it's NATO allies with their "Western" consensus are spreading Poverty and War all over the planet.

   First I highly recommend Paul Klebnikov's "Godfather of the Kremlin" a biography of Berezovsky. A true believer in the free market he went to Russia to witness what he believed would be a brilliant success. Instead he ended up chronicling a disaster. It does a great Job of explaining the complex process of looting a nation. It also manages to expose the Byzantine world of Russian Politics. I also read Angus Roxburgh's "The Strongman Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia" I don't really recommend it the author is a TV reporter which explains his willful ignorance and naivety.  It is interesting for some of the interviews and gossip it provides. The Russians make it clear they know what the US is up to but are dismissed by the author as paranoid. Nor do the American officials bother to disguise their Arrogance and sinister intentions. He condemns Putin but says not one word condemning Bush for torture, mass surveillance, and aggressive war. Typical. Then there is "Blackshirts & Reds Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism." By Michael Parenti. He discusses the differences between Fascism and Communism then provides a concise account of the fall of the USSR. I definitely recommend it. You can listen to his speech based on his book here
I also read/watched one of Adam Curtis' multimedia blogposts.  Here it's definitely original at least. It's about punk Rock, the collapse of Communism  and Putin's avant garde former media adviser Vladislav Surkov. Basically I'm conflicted on Adam Curtis he makes interesting work but he can also be superficial and cowardly. I guess you have to walk a tightrope when you work at the BBC. But at least he often says something completely new and unearths events no one else is interested in. I also watched his documentary The Engineers Plot it's on Youtube and deals with the failure of central planning in the Soviet Union. You can watch it as a standalone episode. It's the first of a series Pandoras Box but if you haven't seen his later documentary series like "Century of the Self" , "Age of Nightmares" or "the trap" watch those instead first as they are brilliant. You should be able to find them all free online. If your looking for Independent courageous Documentaries go check out  Scott Noble's movies are Amazing and he doesn't pull punches. He has great series like The Power Principle and Counter Intelligence, plus single movies like Human Resources or Rise Like Lions.

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