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If Putin should remind us of anyone, itís of a cross between the Perons
dailystar.com.lb ^ | December 19, 2013 | Nina Khrushcheva

Posted on 12/18/2013 7:25:42 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been compared to many strongmen of the past – Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev and Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, to name a few. But after nearly 14 years in power, perhaps the best comparison now may be a transgender cross between the former Argentine leader Juan Peron and his legendary wife, Eva (“Evita”).

In the early 1940s, Col. Peron, as labor minister and secretary of war, was a “gray cardinal” to Argentina’s rulers. Before communism collapsed in 1989, Col. Putin, also memorably gray, was a devoted KGB operative, entrusted with spreading disinformation and recruiting Soviet and foreign agents in East Germany.

At the Labor Ministry, Peron initiated social reforms, including welfare benefits for the poor. Although his motivation, at least in part, may have been a desire for social justice, Peron was, in effect, bribing the beneficiaries to support his own rise to power and wealth. With his beautiful, outspoken wife – a “woman of the people” – at his side, Peron was able to persuade voters in 1946 that, as president, he would fundamentally change the country.

He was as good as his word. Peron’s government nationalized banks and railroads, increased the minimum wage, improved living standards, reduced the national debt (for a while at least) and revived the economy. Argentina became less reliant on foreign trade, though the move toward autarky eventually undermined growth, causing the country to lose its position among the world’s richest.

During this period, Peron also undermined freedom of speech, fair elections and other essential aspects of democracy. He and his emotional wife spoke publicly against bourgeois injustices and luxury, while secretly amassing a private fortune. Finally, Peron was ousted in 1955, three years after the death of Evita, his greatest propagandist.

Like Peron a half-century before, Putin promised in 2000 to tame the unbridled capitalism that had run wild under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. He pledged to restore a sense of dignity to a country that had just lost its empire and suffered a severe economic contraction during the early years of the post-communist transition.

Putin renationalized, or rather brought under Kremlin control, the oil, gas and other industries that had been privatized in the 1990s. Buoyed by high world energy prices, he was able to pay the back wages and pensions that Yeltsin’s cash-strapped government still owed to miners, railroad workers and teachers. As with Peron, citizens were bribed into backing the regime.

But with oil and gas revenues flowing into state coffers, Putin started to fill his own pockets. His personal wealth – including palaces, yachts, watches and cars – has been estimated at $40-70 billion. Although he insists that his riches consist not of money and assets, but of the trust of his people, few Russians doubt he is one of the world’s wealthiest men.

As with Peron’s presidency, Putin’s began well. The public adored the new strongman as he flexed Russia’s political muscle abroad, punished the “dishonest” Yeltsin-era oligarchs, restricted the “irresponsible” media, and re-centralized power.

Until recently, Putin’s resemblance to Evita was not so obvious (though his regular Botox treatments have given him the look she took on after she was embalmed). But the similarities are becoming increasingly evident. Her passionate “messages for the suffering” resonated with Argentina’s poor in the way that Putin’s macho swagger appeals to most Russians, mostly from the country’s hinterland and provincial cities.

Evita and Putin also share a streak of pettiness. Evita ruined the life of anyone who doubted her image as Argentina’s “godmother.” Putin takes revenge on anyone – whether the oligarch-cum-political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, members of the rock band Pussy Riot or ordinary citizens joining anti-Kremlin protests – who challenges his status as “father of the nation.” Perhaps not coincidentally, capital flight is on the rise, and around 300,000 Russians – including many of the best educated – leave the country every year.

Now Ukraine, where President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union has mobilized millions of protesters, represents Russia’s moment of truth. While many cheer the “Euromaidan,” many others insist that Ukraine must maintain close ties with Russia. Putin, the puppeteer in Yanukovich’s decision to keep his country within the Russian orbit, hypocritically blames external forces for Ukraine’s political crisis.

Yet the more the world mocks Putin’s exhibitionism, the more support he gains from Russians yearning for a return to superpower status. Likewise, when Evita was dying of cancer, graffiti appeared all over Buenos Aires, declaring, “Long Live Cancer!” But many continued to idolize her for helping the poor, regardless of how self-serving she had become. The same strange brew of mockery and adoration characterizes Russia’s Putin era as well.

Peron’s final years may offer a worrying parallel. He returned to power in 1973, 18 years after his ouster, bringing back Evita’s embalmed body for Argentines to adore once more. He died the following year, leaving the government in the hands of his third wife, Isabel, whose mismanagement of the economy incited guerrilla violence and a military coup within two years.

Yet today, according to the Latin America scholar Michael Cohen, “most of Argentine society is Peronist. ... Peron delivered a welfare state from which the current middle class benefits.” Similarly, the majority of Russians approve of Putin’s version of state capitalism, and many appreciate his largesse.

I once believed that Putin’s demise might resemble the sudden and bloody fall of Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s all-powerful security chief, who was finished off by the arbitrary system of justice that he helped to create. What now seems more likely, due to the dependence of a majority of Russians on state handouts, is that when Russia’s leader finally leaves the stage, Putinism, like Peronism, will survive, with a bizarre half-life lasting decades.


TOPICS: Russia
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1 posted on 12/18/2013 7:25:42 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Sounds more like Obama than Putin.


2 posted on 12/18/2013 7:54:21 PM PST by oblomov
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Putin is Clinton with Machismo and the common sense to not leave dangling DNA threads about.


3 posted on 12/18/2013 8:05:45 PM PST by Usagi_yo
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Aw, they’re just jealous.


4 posted on 12/18/2013 8:30:54 PM PST by BusterBear
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Nina Khrushcheva is the granddaughter of Soviet Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev. She self identifies as Russian American, and is a professor of international affairs at the ultra progressive New School, and associated with the (also)ultra progressive World Policy Institute as director of the Russia Project designed to bring socialism back to Russia, this time with the right people in charge.

Her writing fits the National Enquirer style of complaining expat Putin hater, probably because he has the job that was hers by birth and socialist ascendancy.

Nina is far more a Communist than Putin.

5 posted on 12/18/2013 8:50:19 PM PST by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: BusterBear

How many here would rather have Putin than Odingleberry?

hands?

Ok what if he was NOT a socialist?

“Putin I mean”

Hands?


6 posted on 12/18/2013 8:55:24 PM PST by Therapsid (I am NOT the psychological warfare MASCOT.)
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To: oblomov; Navy Patriot

>>>Sounds more like Obama than Putin.<<<

They are certainly reflexing about their idol Obamao there.


7 posted on 12/18/2013 8:56:10 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: Navy Patriot

Putin’s latest act of welfare state socialism is his massive handout to Ukraine. Putin tosses the Russian taxpayer’s money away to non-Russian foreigners by the billions in a doomed lunatic quest to rebuild the EVIL EMPIRE.


8 posted on 12/18/2013 8:58:49 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: cunning_fish

Obama only wishes he could be as tyrannical and autocratic as Putin.


9 posted on 12/18/2013 9:01:50 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Obama only wishes he could be as tyrannical and autocratic as Putin.

The Russian authorities just passed a prison amnesty, proposed and endorsed by Putin, that can be applied to Pussy Riot hooligans and Greenpeace pirates.

Looks like he is a benevolent and forgiving tyrannical autocrat.

(Removing tongue from cheek while waiting for Obama to amnesty Zimmerman.)

10 posted on 12/18/2013 9:19:13 PM PST by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Therapsid

Point made.


11 posted on 12/18/2013 9:20:57 PM PST by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

>>>due to the dependence of a majority of Russians on state handouts<<<

LOL. Go try live off a state handouts in Russia:)

I don’t think it is ever possible to collect over $300 monthly in welfare there.


12 posted on 12/18/2013 9:27:51 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: Navy Patriot
So he let homosexual and enviro terrorists out of jail and that proves he's not a communist? Putin also said that Greenpeace has a noble cause. Maybe that's why he so forgiving.
13 posted on 12/18/2013 9:28:27 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: cunning_fish

Putin’s Russian billions are not for Russians, they are for Ukrainians, Belarusians, Chechens and Ossetians.


14 posted on 12/18/2013 9:29:59 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Well, at least he encourages his people to work hard, enjoy benefits of their work and keeps them out of socialist plantation most of the time.


15 posted on 12/18/2013 9:35:44 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: Tailgunner Joe

“I believe Mel Brooks said it best...

“...it’s good to be tsar.”

[cue Roger Daltrey “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!”]

16 posted on 12/18/2013 9:39:05 PM PST by RichInOC (No! BAD Rich! (What'd I say?))
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Truthfully, I do not know what Putin is, and I can only analyze his actions. Using that criteria, and being that Communism is an economic philosophy, I conclude that Putin is moving away from Communism.

I cannot say that is bad for Russia, and Russia is making slow improvements in economy and production, while starting from an extremely weak position.

As a counterpoint, out West, Obama is acting like a Socialist, if you include the EPA, Agriculture, Education, Endangered Species and Obamacare, he is acting like an outright Communist, and doing the worst job in history as President of the US damaging the economy immensely, while starting from the strongest economy the world has ever known.

17 posted on 12/18/2013 10:02:31 PM PST by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Therapsid

Let them keep Putin if they want him. That’s the point.
Putin is good for Russia but it doesn’t mean he is good for America.
As history shows Saddam was good or Iraq, Q-duffy was good for Libya etc.
Middle East is a much worse place wthout these guys nowadays.
It doesn’t mean any of them makes any good POTUS.


18 posted on 12/18/2013 10:04:40 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: Navy Patriot
How is it moving away from Communism to nationalize the oil and gas industries and using them not to make profit but as geopolitical weapons to undermine the national sovereignty formerly communist countries?

Putin is moving Russia back towards Communist totalitarianism. Russia is less free and less capitalist since Putin came to power. Furthermore, he is bringing Communism back to former Soviet states by undermining their sovereignty and independence. Putin is a Neo-Soviet revanchist. If Obama is Marx then Putin is Lenin. Obama is a ivory tower Harvard educated democratic socialist dilettante but Putin is a bloodthirsty mass-murdering Chekist thug.

19 posted on 12/18/2013 10:15:32 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Navy Patriot

In 1999 as he took office, a few families could afford a chicken dinner at least once a week there. A 19-th century mansion in a suburb of Moscow was priced at $20,000, a huge truck factory in Urals was priced at $100,000. There were a civil war in the South of the country and gang wars in cities claiming dozens of lives daily.

Today they have an average annual income closer to Alabama than Mexico, Russian car market is one of the largest in Europe with average price about $30,000 per unit and it is probably impossible to buy a home under $100,000 near any major population center. There is no civil war and you can safely walk most downtowns at night.

If you were an average Russian, what may be your problem with your president? “Free Pussy Riot!” and gay rights aren’t that much an issue for people who has survived through 1990s in Russia.


20 posted on 12/18/2013 10:16:30 PM PST by cunning_fish
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