Friday, April 30, 2004

KGB Resurrection?

Jamie Glazov brings together at FrontPageMagazine Ion Mihai Pacepa, the former acting chief of Communist Romania’s espionage service, James Woolsey, CIA Director from 1993-95, and Vladimir Bukovsky, a former Soviet dissident, for a discussion of the supposed "re-Sovietization" of Russia. Their opinion is damning.
FP: So Mr. Bukovsky, Putin is clearly consolidating his powerful control of Russia. He is placing myriad former KGB officers in his presidential administration posts and has appointed Mikhail Fradkov, also KGB, as chief of government. The Russian media is increasingly practicing self-censorship and political opponents face increasing violence and intimidation. Russia is clearly going back to an authoritarian security state and Putin has made himself somewhat of an oligarch.
Woolsey: Once again, I have no substantial disagreement with the views of these two remarkable men. It seems to me that the direction of Russia is decidedly negative and that the question for us in the West is the one Lenin was fond of posing: "What is to be done?"... Putin has used the economic prosperity produced by a strong oil market to consolidate his power and lead Russia toward a form of fascism -- oil prices have given him the idea that he can do anything he wants. Oil can tend to centralize power in any society except in a mature democracy such as Norway.

While I would agree that Russia's foreign policy in Yugoslavia and the Middle East has been atrocious, compared to the chaos it experienced in terms of economics and national security in the 1990s, I think Putin's reforms have been mostly positive. To call them fascism is a bit more than ridiculous, and smacks of the anti-national security rhetoric usually reserved by the far left for Israel and the U.S. (and rightly criticized by FrontPage).

One could talk about a "re-Sovietization" if Putin was running the country while ignoring the wishes of the people. He remains incredibly popular, however.

In response to Woolsey, I don't think oil has necessarily negatively affected Russian politics that much more than it has U.S. politics.

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