This piece was co-authored by Bob Morrison
The news last week offered us a wonderfully satirical view of Russia. Headlines tell us that Russian Premier Vladimir Putin will once again “run” for President of the Russian Republic. Now, this is being reported as if he really has to run for the office. And it seems that the current “president,” Dmitri Medvedev, is only too willing to step aside to allow for Mr. Putin to make his run. That’s like saying the monkey is willing to give way for the organ grinder.
Vladimir Putin’s Russian nickname would not be Vlad, but Vova. And the Russian word for what he is is vozhd. That’s what Russians call the Boss. And Boss he is, to be sure. He has had his puppet parliament increase the length of the term of the Russian president. From now on, the Kremlin vozhd will serve six-year terms. And Vova is eligible to serve two consecutive terms. That would put him in power until 2024. When, at 72, he may get a hankering to “run” again.
Russian journalists are not likely to question this arrangement of things too much. A number of inquiring minds in the Russian press have turned up dead in the past few years.
Foreign journalists are unlikely to probe too deeply, either. Luke Harding is one of those who did. Harding wrote Mafia State, a book whose title gives you all you need to know about Putin’s Russia. Harding is not a veteran Cold Warrior. Far from it. He writes for the reliably left-wing Manchester Guardian.
Harding provided this chilling picture:
There could be no doubt: someone had broken into my flat. Three months after arriving in Russia as the Manchester Guardian’s new Moscow bureau chief, I returned home late from a dinner party. Everything appeared normal. Children’s clothes lying in the corridor, books piled horizontally in the living room, the comforting debris of family life. And then I saw it. The window of my son’s bedroom was wide open.
It would be such a tragedy if Luke Harding’s six-year old son fell out of the tenth story window. That was the message the invaders of his flat were leaving for him.
Luke Harding follows in an honorable tradition. In the 1930s, the Manchester Guardian’s Malcolm Muggeridge reported on Stalin’s deliberately provoked famine in the Ukraine. Five million died. The New York Times’ Man in Moscow at the time was Walter Duranty. Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for his articles that glowingly portrayed Stalin’s USSR. He never missed those five million Ukrainians.