Russian Prime Minister
In the wake of the Russian parliamentary vote in early December, a Russian opposition leader far more radically communist than Putin was jailed, and protesters hit the streets to protest what they considered electoral fraud and vote-rigging that led to the crushing victory of Putin and President
Most of what spies do involves subversion -- not information collection, as we tend to see in the movies. And an effective way to subvert or dilute a concept or term is to adopt it in name only while assigning it a new substantive meaning under its surface. How many Third World despots have co-opted the term "democratic" for their political party's title, for example?
Putin heralds the expression of "democracy" the
Since the protests started, Putin has asked the electoral commissioner to look into the situation. Chief electoral officer Vladimir Churov has since come back with the fix: 60,000 transparent ballot boxes. Hey, the protesters wanted more systemic "transparency," right? Well, here it is, in the form of an actual see-through object.
The protesters have also asked for reforms. So Medvedev signed off on some corruption-reduction measures, including developing "measures to reduce the economic interest in committing crimes for profit" and "taking steps to impose restrictions on transactions between state agencies and commercial organizations whose major shareholders include family members of the heads of relevant government agencies." In other words, "come up with ways to make greedy people less greedy," and "take steps to curtail kickbacks on government contracts."
These might sound like reasonable measures in the utopian democracy that exists only inside my head, but kickbacks can't even be stopped in
In a classic move ripped straight from
The protesters have asked to meet with Putin to discuss their concerns. He responded that he can't meet with protest leaders because he doesn't know specifically what they want or who has any authority among them: "[They] should formulate some kind of common platform and common position, so that it's possible to understand what people want. Is there a common platform? No. Who is there to talk to?" He has found their precise Achilles' heel -- something President Obama failed to do, or intentionally overlooked because it nicely served his agenda to attack the wealthy.
Putin insists that the protesters differentiate between leaders with authority and simple participants in the movement, and he requests that they define their platform. It's not a bad idea, since we may discover that most of the alternatives are far worse than Putin, and that true Russian democracy would be a poisoned chalice for the West.
And it's a good bet that as soon as these targets come into focus -- if they ever do -- they'll be addressed using the same strategies that prove Putin to be an excellent master of subversion.
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