Putin Now Has His Brown Shirts
Arrogance, anger and self-assurance are amped up in his new voice, as evident in this passage from today's WSJ article on the threatening Mr. P.:
Meeting late Friday with reporters from a small group of newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Putin rejected as "stupidity" a British request to extradite a Russian man accused of murdering a Russian exile last year in London and parried concerns about the Kremlin's crackdown on domestic critics and increasing state ownership of key industries.
But Mr. Putin reserved his sharpest comments for security policy. He accused the U.S. of filling Eastern Europe with new bases and weapons in what he said appeared to be an effort to provoke Russia into a new arms race. If the U.S. goes ahead with its missile-shield plan in Europe, "We will have to get new targets in Europe," Mr. Putin said. "Which weapons will be used...ballistic missiles, cruise missile or some completely new systems -- that's a technical matter."
To fully understand what's behind Putin's positions, one needs to understand that neo-Sovietism is robust and powerful in Russia today -- and that it is being fed and nurtured by the Kremlin -- specifically, by Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov, a former GRU officer, currently Putin's Deputy Chief of Staff and called by some the Kremlin's Karl Rove.
Surkov is behind the growing NASHI ("Us Slavic Russians") youth movement. NASHI is old-line all the way, according to a Publius Pundit expose that includes the first translations of NASHI materials into English. Publius says of NASHI:
Nashi claims that the USSR simply "decided" to give up the arms race because of its own enlightenment, and likewise "decided" to allow German reunification on the same basis (and note too its obsessive focus on the idea of counterrevolution, now styled as "colored revolution," and the demonization of the U.S., linking Russia's "liberals" to foreign spies looking to subvert Russian independence). It attempts to take sole credit for the defeat of Hitler for Russia, implying that Russia saved Europe, yet does not mention Stalin's secret deal with Hitler selling Europe down the river.
Another Publius post provides some key quotes from NASHI's manefesto:
on one side, and international terrorism on the other, are trying to take control of U.S. Eurasiaand the entire world. Their sights are set on . The task of our generation is to defend the sovereignty of our country the way our grandfathers did 60 years ago." Russia
"The 'Orange Revolution' in
and the 'Rose Revolution' in Ukraine occurred due to internal reasons, but under critically important influence from outside. External forces in large part prepared these revolutions and organized their progress. For this reason one can say that the countries that underwent 'colored revolutions' organized from abroad in large measure lost their sovereignty." Georgia
"On the eve of the 2007-2008 elections, the party of oligarch revenge is again raising its head. It is betting on an orange revolution in
, a 'Berzovskiy revolution.' We, NASHI, will not allow the party of oligarch revenge to return to power in Russia . We will not allow them to steal Russia 's future. Oligarch capitalism is our main enemy in Russia . We will uproot it and ensure progress, freedom and justice in Russia .:" Russia
"NASHI is firmly determined not to allow
to suffer a geopolitical coup d'etat and the introduction of external control under the guise of a 'colored revolution.' At the decisive hour we are prepared to send hundreds of thousands of young people into the streets of Russia under the banner of 'Sovereignty and Russia for Independence .' We are prepared to fight for Russian democracy." Russia
"Our opponents claim that NASHI is a Kremlin-sponsored scheme against an 'orange revolution' . . . And indeed, we are opposed to an 'orange revolution' of the Ukrainian type, because this is a geopolitical scheme for the establishment of external control over the country." [TN: No attempt whatsoever is made anywhere in the Manifesto to rebut the accusation that NASHI receives its financing from the Kremlin -- even after the Manifesto itself brings it up.]
"We will help the members of the Movement to become high-ranking professionals and . . . prove their right to lead
, in government organizations, businesses, social structures and mass media." Russia
"Every oligarch or bureaucrat, street rabble or member of a totalitarian organization who raises a hand against a member of our movement should clearly understand that tomorrow he will face the movement as a whole."
Reading this Kremlin-endorsed rhetoric, it is becoming increasing clear that Putin has no plan to simply step down when his term expires in 2008. It would be radical to say that he intends to overthrow the Russian Constitution and keep himself in power, but it would be foolish not to see that he has created an infrastructure that will allow him to stay at the center of policy-making in Russia long after he supposedly retires to his dacha.
NASHI is a key component of his plan. No dictator has ever been able to maintain influence without a gang of brown shirts, and Putin now has his.
Confident that there is support -- at least thug support -- for Sovietism in Russia, Putin speaks more and more like a Politburo president. The West beware.