BY SEBASTIAN LAMONTAGNE
PUTIN’S MANIPULATION OF THE RIGHT
First we learned that Michael Flynn lied about speaking with the Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak.
Then everybody’s favorite racist Southern belle Jeff Sessions perjured himself in front of congress by saying he’d never met with any Russians, like no Russians ever, like why would he even speak to one of those boozers? No he hadn’t. Not once. Even though he’d met with Kislyak twice.
Jared Kushner, real life Count of Monte Cristo/Donald Trump’s son in law and adviser, has also spoken with Kislyak as have Trump’s campaign director of national security J.D Gordon and Gordon’s subordinate Carter Page.
But is it really surprising that Putin would be the one Trump went to when he needed someone to fix his election?
He probably got his admiration for Putin from the same place he gets all his ideas. Fox News.
American conservatives once took their cues from ideological touchstones like William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan.
Now they have found a new conservative pin-up in a tempestuous, vulgar foreign demagogue who seems to be running a never ending PR campaign and, according to Angela Merkel, “is living in another world”.
Merkel has not been the first to wonder about Vladimir Putin’s mental health.
Newspapers often accuse him of narcissism. If he is a narcissist, all the attention is surely only fueling his disorder. But hey, if we’re lucky Putin might just gaze at his reflection in the media pool for so long and so deeply that he starves to death, like the original Narcissus of Greek myth.
Many were incredulous when in 2013 and 2014 Fox News hosts began to eat up Vladimir Putin’s shirtless propaganda and unfavorably compare his various staged feats to Obama’s “mom jeans” and golfing.
As far as conservatives were concerned, vacations from the Oval Office would be more acceptable if they were spent shooting tranquilized tigers.
A Kremlin think tank published an article in 2013 that showed significant resistance to recent social advancements in the West on issues such as feminism and gay rights. Vladimir Putin, inspired by the report, began to attack the West for its feminine qualities, calling it “genderless.”
Russian propaganda jeeringly nicknamed Europe “Gayropa.” In 2013 Putin said that “many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization, they are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual … They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan”
Back then nobody could have predicted Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, nor the romance that President Trump seems to be cultivating with the Russian leader by praising and even defending him.
In an interview preceding the Super Bowl Bill O’Reilly pressed President Trump over his respect for a man who has ordered the murders of journalists and critics, saying that “Putin is a killer”.
“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,” Trump shot back “What, you think our country is so innocent?”
Here are just a few assassinations Putin is suspected of ordering:
On November 1, 2006, someone slipped polonium-210 (a critical component of nuclear bombs) into the tea of ex K.G.B. man Alexander Litvinenko.
As a result he became the first confirmed victim of polonium-210 induced acute radiation syndrome.
Alexander Litvinenko was in the United Kingdom, where he’d been granted asylum, when his assassination occurred.
On the 27th of February 2015, Boris Nemtsov was walking with his girlfriend across Moskvoretsky Bridge near the Kremlin when four sharp cracks rang out and Nemtsov fell. Nemtsov’s pistol wielding murderer vaulted a barrier into the road, where he was met by a getaway car.
Boris Nemtsov was immensely distinguished, a key figure in introducing capitalism to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union; he should have been untouchable. Nemtsov was a bravely vocal critic of Putin, but he was also a physicist, a statesman and a leading liberal politician.
In May of the same year, Vladimir Kara-Murza suffered a near death hospitalization.
Within a 24 hour period nearly all his organs had begun to shut down. He was shuffled between hospitals in Moscow and the U.S. as he slowly recovered from what he believed was an assassination attempt by the Kremlin.
Kara-Murza was another vocal critic of Putin’s regime and a member of the pro-democracy group Open Russia.
After the recovery Kara-Murza was undeterred from his mission. He returned to Russia from his home in the U.S in early 2017 to promote a film about Boris Nemtsov. That’s when the same mysterious illness struck him down again.
Kara Murza is still alive, and hospitalized in Moscow. It was shortly after the resurgence of his illness that Bill O’Reilly interviewed Donald Trump.
BATMAN AND ROBIN
From 2008 to 2012 Dmitry Medvedev was president of Russia, while Putin became Prime Minister, perhaps hoping to rule from the shadows.
But it was obvious to everyone that the office Putin occupied did not matter.
Putin is a dictator, not a politician. And even for a dictator he is exceptionally cartoonish in his villain playing right into every western Bond villain and comic book trope.
Wikileaks cables revealed that American diplomats laughingly described Putin as Russia’s Batman and Dmitry Medvedev as his Robin.
But Putin likes to present himself as a cold blooded street thug and a brawler, using his largely mysterious childhood to help frame this narrative.
Putin’s father Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin and his mother Maria Ivanovna Putina lived a hard, quintessentially Russian life. Vladimir Spiridonovich suffered from chronic pain until the day he died. During the second World War he had joined a small sabotage group run by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD).
With the NKVD he blew up bridges and rail lines near St Petersburg, until the group was ambushed by Nazis. A grenade left shrapnel buried in Vladimir’s leg.
While he was in the hospital he secretly gave his rations to his wife Maria and their surviving son, Victor. After Victor was taken away from the fighting and put into a childcare institution, Maria nearly starved to death. The the unconscious, barely breathing woman was piled among the dead of St. Petersburg to be carted away for burial. If someone had not noticed her moaning and dragged her from the pile she might have been buried alive.
The Putins’ first two children, born in the 1930s, were not so lucky. The first child was named Albert. Albert died in infancy. Their second child, Victor, died in a childcare facility during the Siege of Leningrad.
Many years later the only one of their children to survive into adulthood would say this about the death of Victor: “My parents told me that children were taken from their families in 1941, and my mother had a child taken from her — with the goal of saving him…They said he had died, but they never said where he was buried. ”
Vladimir Putin was born in 1952. Putin spent his childhood in a crumbling Leningrad complex where closely packed families lived alongside rats and fought over a small kitchen space in the hallway.
His father took up a job at a train car factory, while his mother tried her hand at any job she could find including truck loader, night watchman, and cleaning woman. This meant that when he wasn’t in school Putin was largely on his own, left to do as he pleased.
According to him he often spent that time brawling with street thugs and drunks in the courtyard beneath his window.
THERE ARE MORE WHERE TRUMP CAME FROM
Trump is not the only world leader finding inspiration in Putin’s antics.
Among his many admirers are Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Nigel Farage in Britain and Marine Le Pen in France. Le Pen has declared Russia a natural ally of Europe and said that Crimea “has always been Russian” She has called sanctions against the Kremlin “completely stupid” and the cause of “major problems for the EU”
In 2014 a Russian bank leant Le Pen’s party, the National Front, 9 million euros.
Some, including Natalie Jaresko, the former finance minister of Ukraine who spoke on the subject in an interview with David Axelrod, suspect that Putin is attempting to undermine the West from afar with his interference in Libya and Syria. The influx of refugees from these countries has destabilized Western nations and set the stage for Putin to lend support in the form of well placed leaks (in the case of America) or monetary donations to emerging nationalistic leaders promising safer borders.
As a result Putin may have successfully broken up the E.U.
Speaking about the interference in the 2016 elections, Jaresko had this to say: “It’s shocking that they would take the risk of doing that in the United States. And now it appears — I’ve seen reports — Germany, France and elsewhere…It surprised me only because I didn’t expect that it could be possible in the United States. But this is about the Kremlin wanting to destroy the Transatlantic Partnership, wanting to destroy… the liberal post-World War II international order, which is based on democracy, human rights, territorial integrity, sovereignty of nations.”