Just before the end of 2010 it was reported the former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has already been in jail for several years, was convicted if a new crime and sentenced to 14 years.
His previous sentence was handed down to punish him and his company (Yukos) for not paying taxes. This time he and his partner Lebedev were accused of stealing about two thirds of the company’s production (over 200 million barrels of oil) over a period of several years. The prosecutors didn’t bother to explain how they failed to notice that during the first trial. They didn’t answer the question about how the company was able to operate for years despite such a monumental theft.
Moreover, two weeks before the end of the trial, the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin openly stated in a TV interview that Khodorkovsky was guilty and would be sentenced (despite the fact that the Russian courts are supposedly independent).
That shows how important a role Putin plays in Russia’s affairs. He can influence the outcome of court proceedings just like Lenin and Stalin did in the good old times. The issue here is not Khodorkovsky’s guilt. He probably committed some transgressions just like the other Russian oligarchs: after all most of them became billionaires without any previous business experience.
They all were products of the shady period when Yeltsin privatized Russia’s natural resources industries at fire-sale prices. During Khodorkovsky’s first trial the masses in Russia applauded Putin for cutting off the tentacles of the “World Jewish Conspiracy” failing to notice that many others of the oligarchy were also Jews, yet the mighty president didn’t touch them.
Khodorkovsky’s problem was that he took the idea of democracy in Russia seriously. He thought that he could fight Putin politically and win. He was wrong.
Although a simple KGB officer (or because of that), Putin understood the Russian soul much better. After a short flirt with democracy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian masses were too scared of living on their own; they needed again somebody to lean on. Putin was the perfect fit to fill that gap.
Now he is lauded as the man who restored Russia’s might after the dangerous experiments of the drunkard Yeltsin. Of course, he only restored the illusion of power, because with the media and the opposition under tight control, they feel the same old tranquility they had in the Soviet Union. In reality, however, from the point of view of the economy, Russia has gained very little. The country’s fiscal fortunes directly depend on the swings of the raw materials’ prices. The men’s life expectancy is only 59 years, lower than in the most third-world countries. The Russian army is only a shadow of its old self.
However, for the thinking of the average Russian all that is irrelevant. He can endure cold and hunger just for the illusion that his country and her wise leader can kick everybody’s ass.
It is excusable for the ordinary Russians to have such feelings for a mediocre KGB officer. After all, they have never ever had democracy in their country.
It is funny though how that mediocrity is eulogized by some Westerners. There was a fundraiser recently in Russia, which Vladimir Putin attended. Among the participants were numerous movie celebrities, like Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone, Goldie Hawn, Gerard Depardieu, etc. etc. You can see the video below.
Putin decided to express his artistic talents. He started with a piano solo, in which he showed the skills of a kindergarten piano school reject. Still not satisfied, he took the stage to sing. He performed Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. Frankly, if he were an ordinary person, his performance would have had him booed out even of a third-rate karaoke joint.
However, the most entertaining part of the video was to watch the actors’ reactions. Those supposedly highly skilled entertainers were applauding and clapping as if they were watching Elvis or Little Richard in their prime. Sharon Stone’s glazy stare revealed that probably deep inside she was floating with Putin in a wet dream.
That’s not new. The Western intelligentsia had proven time after time that they would follow even the most pathetic and disgusting dictator, if he fights capitalism. George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells admired Lenin and Stalin, despite of being aware of their bloody crimes. Paul Robeson loved Stalin and even sent his son to study in the Soviet Union during the worst years of the 1930’s terror. And let’s not forget how much Oliver Stone admires Castro and Chavez.
One needs to question the sanity of those people. By fighting capitalism, they risk losing the millions of dollars that the “rotten system” provided for them. In a “progressive society” nobody makes much money other than the dictator and his cronies.