Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cracks in Putin's kingdom

An even bigger problem, perhaps, is that Putin is looking backward.

He can best be characterized by the term "sovok," one of those many-layered pieces of word play in which Russians delight. In this case, it can be summarized as someone who embodies the dark and circumscribed world view of the Soviet man in the street, suspicious of the outside world, resentful, who holds a grudge and remembers a slight. Putin speaks passionately about the "tragedy" of the Soviet Union's collapse, a personally scarring time when he found himself unemployed.

He trusts very few people. Aides say he makes policy on key issues – Georgia, Ukraine, NATO – himself, along with a small circle, and tends to improvise. He shows little interest in the Russian stock market, which has taken a battering since the outbreak of the Georgia crisis, while most of the mega-rich, many of them close associates, have attained their fortune by obeying one rule: Do exactly what Putin says.

In the past, everybody obeyed this rule, and many in the ruling elite were genuinely convinced that he was the right leader for these times. Now, doubts are creeping in, and people are bracing themselves for tense years. The strong man has started to show his weaknesses.

Click here for full story.

Source: Yahoo News.

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