- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Libertarians and Putin’s Catastrophic Corruption

Over 100,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners are in prison in Russia [1] for not paying bribes to assorted inspectors or because parties to business disputes bribe police to arrest them on trumped-up charges. Russia’s private sector has very little security in law [2] for its property rights. Almost everybody dragged before any court is found guilty. The consequences are minimal re-investment, low productivity growth, and owners who seek security by taking out maximum cash and, if able, stashing it abroad.

Consequently, Russia depends upon imports for 90 percent of its consumer goods. Its agriculture is still a shambles, with no secure property rights, lousy roads to get products to markets, and younger farm workers fleeing the boredom and poverty of the countryside. Just fly over any Russian city, as I have done, and see how little of the land is cultivated compared to cities in the rest of Europe.

Yet many leading libertarians have been very soft on Putin’s elimination of political freedoms and ruination of his country, excusing Russia because of NATO expansion and Western support for the overthrow of Ukraine’s Moscow-backed Yanukovych government. Some conservatives have even argued that Putin is an ally in supporting traditional “family values” because of his public opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.

Ron Paul defends Putin [3], writing that there was no proof that Russian missiles shot down Malaysia’s Flight 17 over Ukraine. His allies argue that criticism or exposure of Putin’s regime merely strengthens the War Party [4] in Washington, helping it to gain more spending and bring about more wars against more nations. They argue that it was NATO expansion and NATO’s attack on Serbia launched by Bill Clinton that ultimately led to the reactions and new aggressiveness of Russia. This is an argument I once appreciated, but it’s not a reason to whitewash today’s Russian dictatorship and incredible corruption.  We–and I consider myself a Libertarian—can still oppose our military-industrial congress complex without excusing or hiding mention of monstrosities abroad. In fact such excuses weaken our moral standing and our competence as “realists.”

Now, with the 50 percent decline in oil income and a concomitant approximate 50 percent decline in the value of the Russian ruble, it’s very important to understand Russia’s domestic scene and how the country’s rulers are incapable of nursing its private business sector and agriculture to substitute for lost oil revenue. Russia, with its economically ignorant police-state rulers, may simply evolve into a semi-failed state with loose nukes around for the stealing or buying. Some analysts even warn that “when the federal government will no longer be able to offer financial incentive to the regions, Russia’s feeble federalism will crumble [5].”

Putin’s power base is with pensioners—to whom he could make relatively generously payments because of the past oil boom—and his constituency of security services, government officials (with guns), and inspectors shaking down the private sector. I have lived under various forms of dictatorship and wrote an essay in 2009, “Understanding Dictatorships [6],” explaining how dictators stay in power and the importance of “legitimacy” even for them. I lived in Havana when Fidel Castro overthrew the corrupt Batista dictatorship. I saw then how Batista depended upon his police, who consequently became very corrupt, constantly shaking down middle-class Cubans for bribes. They made Batista hated, but he couldn’t control them because he depended upon them to stay in power. Russia under Putin is very similar. In 2012 he publicly recognized the problem and even appointed an official, Boris Titov [7], to oversee releasing some 10,000 entrepreneurs from prison, but then he backed off the program. Instead, in 2013 Putin gave even more power to corrupt local courts with a new law allowing them to issue judgments without even notifying defendants of a pending case against them—see “Germany Cools to Russian Investment [8].” In consequence Allianz, a giant German insurer, stopped writing automobile insurance in the country.

Short of revolution, it’s hard to see how Putin can be thrown out. He and his cohorts can never allow a free election to threaten him with loss of control. He and they would all be subject to prison, or at least exile, once their corruption was investigated. He dare not leave power voluntarily. To the contrary, if squeezed too hard, he might lash out by invading other lands—Azerbaijan, for example, with its oil, or Kazakhstan with its minerals and pipelines.

The oil-price decline and Putin’s self-destructive corruption have done far more damage to Russia’s economy than any economic sanctions from the West. So now it would be better to ease up and not push Putin into more desperation or give him excuses to blame the West. European and American banks should be allowed to refinance existing Russian corporate debt, say 80 percent, with a schedule of payments to gradually reduce it—and certainly not to increase it. Just the cutting off of fresh money is all that’s needed to keep positive pressure on Russia without creating a possible failed state. A world price of $50-60 per barrel is enough to keep most of America’s shale oil production profitable yet prevent Russia from having excess funds beyond the essentials to pay pensions and prevent a possibly catastrophic implosion.

Hopefully Russia will be forced to turn inward to foster its own vast potential economic development by allowing private property rights and a breath of freedom at home. Economic development of the private sector needs a substantive rule of law.

Yet the other possibility, of becoming a failed state, is not as farfetched as it sounds. All former dictatorships are vulnerable in these days to such a risk of breaking up into religious sects, racial and ethnic groups, gangs, ideological crazies, and other malcontents with guns fighting each other. Iraq, Libya, and Syria are perfect examples. The American Conservative’s strategic expert William Lind [9] argues that America should support “centers of order” wherever in the world against a growing number of 21st-century fracturing, failed states that will spread chaos; witness Europe’s fear of Middle Eastern fanaticisms coming to their lands. For Russia, with its thousands of nuclear bombs, it’s very much in the West’s interest to help keep it going as a viable, prosperous, and cohesive state.

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative.

39 Comments (Open | Close)

39 Comments To "Libertarians and Putin’s Catastrophic Corruption"

#1 Comment By Buzz Baldrin On January 2, 2015 @ 8:02 am

I’m confused.

In this article, Utley writes that “[Putin] and his cohorts can never allow a free election to threaten him with loss of control.”

Yet, on March 31, 2014, in “Electoral Systems and Failed Democracies Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Iraq—they all use proportional representation,” he blamed Russia’s proportional representation voting system for Putin’s grip on power.

I’m also curious why Russia had been prospering and Germany, which Utley hasn’t portrayed as corrupt, had been slowly recovering, before the US declared economic war on Russia, worsened by collapsing oil prices. Perhaps the sanctions are the reason for the economic downturn, not corruption.

The only major corruption I see is the corruption of the deal Jim Baker and Mikhail Gorbachev recall making to end the Cold War by disbanding the Soviet Union, conditioned upon America’s promise not to expand NATO, let alone initiate a coup in the Ukraine.

Finally, while it would be nice for shale oil to be profitable at $50-$60-a-barrel, that unlikelihood has been reflected in the recent Dallas Fed Manufacturing index’s fall to 4.1, from 10.5, last month. Seems that the collapse of oil prices has attacked much of Texas’s fracking industry and many of the junk bonds that support it.

#2 Comment By I Don’t Matter On January 2, 2015 @ 8:50 am

Thank you for a clear-eyed description of today’s Russia. This reader can only say that the bizarre softness for Putin coming from so many libertarians makes one really question their dedication to liberty.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 2, 2015 @ 9:03 am

The Yeltsin regime was preferred? Well, right, that certainly wasn’t good for pensioners, but it was for western economic carpetbaggers.

And since when has U.S. foreign policy favored foreign democracy over reliable satrapies for our own corrupt oligarchy? I can’t think of a one where that was the preferred choice.

Our own putative democracy is having severe accountability and oversight problems – there is plenty to fix here, which isn’t being done at all, which makes seeing the log in the Russians’ eyes all the more self-serving for elites wishing to escape scrutiny by the American people.

#4 Comment By Gennady – Russia On January 2, 2015 @ 10:58 am

Nowadays pro-neocon America does not seem to be a blessing to Russia. But as for Mr.Putin with his oligophrenic looks – I am not happy with him either

#5 Comment By Justin Raimondo On January 2, 2015 @ 11:11 am

This article is complete nonsense. Yes, Russia is far from a free market economy, but we have no power to change that. Libertarianism is simply not on the agenda for Russia any time soon.

Also: this piece ignores the principal factors motivating the sanctions and the new cold war hysteria: 1)NATO expansion, and (never mentioned) b) Russia granting sanctuary to Edward Snowden.

John has been a firm supporter of Antiwar.com for many years and I consider him a personal friend: he is, however, wrong about this. I expect living in Washington, DC — where the hysteria is highest — has impact his judgment.

By the way: Ron Paul has never defended Putin. He has merely pointed out that US-led ‘regime-change’ campaigns in Ukraine & elsewhere have been responsible for the souring of relations.

#6 Comment By Johann On January 2, 2015 @ 11:27 am

The conclusion of this article that libertarians think Russia is a great place is incorrect. Its just libertarians recognize that our country’s actions have actually entrenched Putin and worsened Russia’s condition. Our actions have been counter-productive and in fact may trigger the collapse of Russia. And it doesn’t take much of a conspiracy theorist to conclude that maybe that’s exactly what many in our government and so-called think tanks want.

#7 Comment By SmoothieX12 (aka Andrew) On January 2, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

Putin’s power base is with pensioners

That pretty much sums up this “analysis” of Russia. I wrote many times about it, I will repeat–the field of the so called “Russian studies” in the US is dead. Some small remaining islands of serious knowledge and understanding of how Russia clicks merely confirm the fact of the triumph of the “Russian narrative”, which is caricature of Russia.

#8 Comment By JohnG On January 2, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

May I suggest taking a deep breath and going for a whole week without any articles mentioning Putin and Russia? Of course, for our own sake and sanity, as we seem to be sinking into a dangerous obsession here.

My best wishes for a great 2015 to all the staff and commentators here! Of course, including the one that doesn’t matter 😉 whose comment is the only one that I disagree with here :-)!

#9 Comment By jamie On January 2, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

By the way: Ron Paul has never defended Putin. He has merely pointed out that US-led ‘regime-change’ campaigns in Ukraine & elsewhere have been responsible for the souring of relations.

It becomes more and more difficult to tease out where libertarian principle ends and cardboard Russia Today-style anti-Americanism begins. I mean I’m no great patriot but I can smell conspiracy mongering and false moral equivalency a mile away.

This reader can only say that the bizarre softness for Putin coming from so many libertarians makes one really question their dedication to liberty.

For many libertarians, the question of liberty begins and ends with their quarterly earnings statements. They’re perfectly happy to praise the lord and pass the oil barrel, and anyone that dares question how that barrel of oil is produced is tagged an “interventionist,” and God forbid you suggest something might actually be done for the human beings living across a border.

Just shut up, don’t ask questions, and keep filling your tank. The sort of regime you’re paying for is none of your business, just keep telling yourself it’s all a free exchange, there’s nothing we can do to help Russia or Russians so we might as well aid and abet the regime. It’s remarkable how statist right libertarians become the moment a national border is part of the conversation…

#10 Comment By T. Sledge On January 2, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

The biggest problem with the way Putin is portrayed in this country seems to be this either-or mentality that seems to pervade the “talking class” in this country. If Putin is bad then Khodorkovsky (this poor, put upon businessman) must be good; If Obama is weak and feckless then Putin must be this strong willed dynamic leader.
The truth is that Khodorkovsky (and all the other oligarchs) were a bunch of rapacious thieves who took advantage of the economic chaos at the fall of the Soviet Union and of that drunken fool Yeltsin to grab enormous ill-gotten gains. Khodorkovsky didn’t heed Putin’s advice to keep his loot but stay out of politics, so then the latter became some sort of martyr in the West.

Obama certainly is something (much) less than the “change we were looking for”, so Putin suddenly becomes something other than the ex-KGB Slavophile that he is, and is seen as a muscular leader.

Sometimes what you are looking at are two different flavors S-O-B.

#11 Comment By JohnG On January 2, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

For many libertarians, the question of liberty begins and ends with their quarterly earnings statements. They’re perfectly happy to praise the lord and pass the oil barrel, and anyone that dares question how that barrel of oil is produced is tagged an “interventionist,” and God forbid you suggest something might actually be done for the human beings living across a border.

Just shut up, don’t ask questions, and keep filling your tank. The sort of regime you’re paying for is none of your business, just keep telling yourself it’s all a free exchange, there’s nothing we can do to help Russia or Russians so we might as well aid and abet the regime . It’s remarkable how statist right libertarians become the moment a national border is part of the conversation…

Nice try! First draw a caricature of one’s positions and than debate them rather than the actual positions. It also helps to throw in some wild speculations about what others think, feel, or care about, so your “debating method” seems more appropriate for MSNBC/Fox/NR, I just hope we can maintain a higher level of debate here at TAC.

I consider myself a libertarian and I am actually all about asking questions. How about these two:

1. Would you rather live in Saudi Arabia or Russia, which society is more free? Why obsess over “helping” Russia while ignoring the other, which btw, is the country of origin of MOST folks who attacked us and killed thousands of Americans on 9/11? It is a legitimate and not just libertarian question to ask why/how do we choose our priorities who to help first?

2. If we accept the idea of “helping Russia” does this necessarily involve sanctions, threats, etc. rather than free trade? I bet that free trade and tourism with Cuba will be much more useful in opening up that society than the insane decades-old embargo that produced zilch as far as any useful result or progress. So a second legitimate and, again, not just libertarian, question to ask is: what’s the best way to “help” and actually help?

#12 Comment By KD On January 2, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

Was Putin elected, or did he take power through a revolution or a political coup? If he was elected, why talk about him as if he was not elected?

There are a lot of good reasons to be critical of Russia’s domestic policies, as are pointed out in the article, but a call for revolution against a democratic ruler based on America’s dislike of Russia’s domestic policies strikes me as nonsensical. People in other countries might not like Obama, and there is plenty of data that might lead outsiders to believe he represents Goldman Sachs more than ordinary Americans, but I would not appreciate China calling for a revolution because they don’t like his healthcare system.

The only reason to be for or against Putin is because Putin is for or against the national interests of the United States, not because he buys the wrong brand of freedom popcorn. If he sucks, that’s the voters in Russia’s problem.

Moreover, revolution for who? The liberals have no popular support in Russia. Do you think an extreme ultra-nationalist or an unreconstructed Communist would do a better job? Would be more friendly to American interests?

This is nothing more than cheerleading for revolution without any articulation of any legitimate foreign policy interests. I would expect more of TAC–why don’t you include a crosslink to NRO online?

#13 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 2, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

Putin protected the reformist St. Petersburg mayor against a KGB counter-coup in 1991.

In addition he gave the highest government awards to the great Russian anticommunist dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and made The Gulag Archipelago required school reading.

If you want to make a country more repressive, threaten its government. Our own nation has become much less free since the perception since 2001 is that we are at risk of being invaded or some other ridiculous fear fantasy. Our oligarchs’ threats against Russia seem much more real.

#14 Comment By Damein Zakordonski On January 3, 2015 @ 2:26 am

Justin,

Why is the article complete rubbish? Did Jon forget to elucidate how Putin amassed his enormous wealth? Was it done, perhaps by means of subterfuge and blackmail? What about his bloody war with the Chechens? Is that the one that Anti-war.com conveniently neglects to cover with any sort of diligence? You mentioned Snowden. What does that have to do with discussing Putin’s corrupt government? He didn’t mention the clowns Putin sent into Ukraine like Borodai, Strelkov, or Bezler. Why didn’t that bother you? But, then again, knowing how you conveniently pretend that such individuals don’t exist, I wasn’t surprised that you forgot to once again mention their names either.

It seems strange that any time someone discusses negative aspects of Putin, you quickly run on the scene to excoriate them as some sort of neocon shill. Was Jon advocating for hostilities with Russia? If he was, I fail to see exactly where he was.

You had no problem writing about Yeltsin’s disgraced and crooked regime, yet neglect to expose any wrongdoing of his successor. In fact, you have written a number of glowing editorials praising Putin’s eloquent survey of the increasing hegemony of America since the dissolution of the USSR. Do you not see an individual who, might we say, is more than a little hypocritical and knows how to play his cards?

#15 Comment By Gennady Starostenko – Russia On January 3, 2015 @ 10:54 am

Pardon my intrusion onto your playground – but it is about Russia anyway. Mr.Putin’s portraying as Slavophile or nationalist is only for domestic use, my word for it. In other senses (financial and economical)he is totally pro-liberal – look at the finance ministry and CB. He is fond of only liberal tint in art too – no secret. And he would be staying such if it were not for the attempts to corner the man. His only sin before the globalism was stopping two or three oilygarchs a decade ago who were sure that Russia could be sold to globalist bankerism 200% just in a wink – and he was sure some 75% would suffice, with the process controlled by him and cronies – and not by meddling presidential-oriented arrogance of Khodorkovskys (and there was evidence enough that mayor Petukhov in an oil-rich Siberia was decade and a half ago was killed by Khodorkovsky’s UKOS team). As for now – two thirds of local liberals in media have readjusted themselves to hurray-patriotic agenda (as the nation was deeply tired with stealing liberalism of the 90s)- in part because of a unique chance to make Russians and Ukrainians enemies – and keep on excoriating the US on TV and paper outlets (albeit their hidden dream and final asylum) for meddling into the Russian sphere of influence. And guys like Navalny (supported by intl rights groups and outer capital)steal protests of malcontents like me (real patriotic opposition who were the first to oppose corruption and the liberalist Plunder & Flee Inc.in early 90s)- but the nation somehow feels the trick about him and will never support him on a scale needed for a coup. And there is Putin himself on guard too. So Putin is the best compromise solution for the US – not for me though.
And you always miss one important thing – that US was all for Yeltsin, the travelling grizzly,who disbanded local democracy by shelling own parliament from tanks

#16 Comment By James Wilson On January 3, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

The article tries to make two points: a) libertarians should be more critical of Putin; b) U.S. policy toward Putin should be pragmatic and cooperative instead of hostile.

That’s like saying: a) libertarians should be more critical of the Castros; b) the diplomatic opening to Cuba should be applauded and the embargo should end.

Why does point a even matter? How is it pertinent?

#17 Comment By David Smith On January 3, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

I think this is part of a tendency to reduce everything to either/or, black/white extremes. I recall when Gorbachev came to power in the USSR, there was an endless discussion about whether he was “good” or “bad.” You could point out one of his actions and use that to prove that he was “good.” Then someone else could point out another action that proved he was “bad.” In fact, Gorbachev was Gorbachev and had to be accepted for what he was.

Seventy years of Communism left a legacy that Russia will take generations to recover from. Sanctions and military confrontation will not change any of that. This is a process that has to take its course, as ugly as that may be at times.

#18 Comment By Alan Orsborn On January 3, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

Yet the other possibility, of becoming a failed state, is not as farfetched as it sounds…The American Conservative’s strategic expert William Lind argues that America should support “centers of order” wherever in the world against a growing number of 21st-century fracturing, failed states that will spread chaos;

Supporting “centers of order” is the twisted thinking behind Victoria Nuland passing out cookies at the Maidan, and look where that has gotten us. And I wouldn’t worry that “Russia’s feeble federalism will crumble.” The more the American Empire pushes Russians around, the more they unite in strong opposition to it. When threatened Russian civilization resets to the archetypal defaults of autocracy and patriotic war.

#19 Comment By BP On January 3, 2015 @ 9:47 pm

Russia suffers under a corrupt dictatorship. But it should remain; not be dissolved and replaced? What?

#20 Comment By PacRim Jim On January 3, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

1980s redux

#21 Comment By Tom On January 3, 2015 @ 10:13 pm

To the contrary, if squeezed too hard, he might lash out by invading other lands—Azerbaijan, for example, with its oil, or Kazakhstan with its minerals and pipelines.

That’s like saying that the United States might bomb Iran or Israel, because both of them have a nuclear program. They’re geopolitical opposites.

Russia is very friendly with Armenia, which is a sworn enemy of Azerbaijan. If Azerbaijan want to war with Armenia, then there’s no question that Russia will back Armenia.

Russia is not going to go to war with Kazakhstan. What would be the point? They’re in a customs union, they hold joint military exercises, and they consult frequently on important topics. Plus, Putin speaks admiringly of Nazarbayev, and the two of them get along great.

#22 Comment By liberty agenda On January 4, 2015 @ 2:21 am

I don’t know any libertarians making excuses for Putin. Most of the libertarians weighed in with criticism of the usual meddling interventionists dragging us into conflict with Russia, part of the pattern of more wars and global policing. Putin barely figured into it.

However, I do think it would make sense for libertarians to ignore Putin (who seems to be a real turd) entirely and concentrate on the Leviathan of waste, corruption, surveillance and incompetence here at home, or the efforts of our own incompetents to entangle us in other peoples problems. God knows it requires all our attention.

#23 Comment By Gennady Starostenko – Russia On January 4, 2015 @ 5:11 am

to D.S. – on “Seventy years of Communism left a legacy that Russia will take generations to recover from…”
I would say there were two totally different epochs inside those “70 years of communism”. The first one – Bolshevism proper with Leo Trotsky and his idea of the Permanent Revolution. Along with domination of the then liberals – grandfathers of the new ones in Russia. As for the second – it is about the late Stalin period and on until Gorby. Historian John Arch Getty III was one of the first to establish the scientific difference on the matter. By the way, I personally would prefer to “recover” from this free market neo-Bolshevism for some agreeable kind of social state Russia should be evolving into. By the way – by saying liberals in Russia I mean not libertarians sure, but those who (in the US case) would be grouping around Democrats mostly or even make neocon ideologists in GOP or strongly sympathetic about one Middle East issue. They are on the the same mission both here and there – preventing traditionalists around the world to start their own intellectual liasons

#24 Comment By Henry Larsen On January 4, 2015 @ 6:32 am

> The American Conservative’s strategic expert
> William Lind argues that America should …

I always appreciated Mr Lind’s analyses and commentary, and was disappointed when he virtually disappeared from the internet some years ago. Thus, I was pleased to see this reference (and link) in the present article. Imagine my dismay, then, to find that Mr Utley sends us to an article that (a) is over ten years old and (b) has nothing to do with Russia.

#25 Comment By Alex On January 4, 2015 @ 1:27 pm

What about the corruption in DC, don’t you have enough mess in your own backyard to watch the neighbor’s mess? Lobbyist from DC are arranging elections too!!
While you American are paying around 50% of taxes Russian 15%. Who is the communist state?
Instead of indoctrinating the entire planet the US should take care of their own problems and solved them!!!!!

#26 Comment By Simon in London On January 4, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

It sounds as if Russia needs legal reform – secure property rights, a better legal process – combined with higher salaries for cops & officials to compensate for loss of bribes. Those salaries can be paid for by taxes from the business growth that a better environment will encourage.
This kind of thing can be done top-down, as Augustus reformed the Roman tax system. Perhaps Libertarian think tanks could offer to help Putin. Reforms would strengthen Russia so he has incentive to say yes.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 4, 2015 @ 7:18 pm

But I go dancing through the tulips about the Russian criminal justice process . . . I think I will remain more concerned about what is happening here.

[10]

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 4, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

As for getting a pass on improper business dealings.

Well,

[11]

#29 Comment By Maria On January 5, 2015 @ 1:02 am

I don’t think Mr. Utley is a paleoconservative.

#30 Comment By Winston On January 5, 2015 @ 2:50 am

Russia doesn’t have people expecting to live on $400 dollars a month, living in houses meant for young.

[12]
The ‘shock’ that awaits pensioners at retirement

Corruption in Russia, how about omnibus bill and TTP?
[13]

The Trans-Pacific Trade (TPP) Agreement Must Be Defeated
By Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

[14]
Michael Hudson: The War on Pensions – The US Budget Anti-Pension Law

#31 Comment By PETER MCBRIEN On January 5, 2015 @ 7:37 am

We need to be careful here. Squeeze too tightly and we could have a Japan/Pearl Harbor on our hands. To distract his people, besides the Balkins, Putin might try to buy Greece if you catch my drift.

#32 Comment By Ned On January 6, 2015 @ 11:19 pm

“100,000 small businessmen and entrepreneurs are in prison”, the article opens with that. Pretty shocking figure and one wonders what the source of this is.

#33 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2015 @ 4:46 pm

I have been refraining from reading my Russian News direct articles, but today, I took a look.

And I think that while Russia’s openness could use some openness and fairness, it’s just not saying much. Because this article is not really about those issues which Russia has struggled with prior to the transition of the Soviet Union, it remains about Russia’s response to the Ukraine revolution and our careless support for the same.

Here’s a response, I think is fair.

“Understanding the role and significance of the international law we talk about so much, it should not be tailored to fit the tactical interests of some, in contradiction to fundamental principles and common sense, while they consider everyone around them to be poorly-educated people who don’t know how to read or write,” Putin said.

Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines – [15])

#34 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2015 @ 4:48 pm

Just a note on entrepreneurship.

[16]

#35 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 12, 2015 @ 4:13 am

I enjoyed the film documentary of Mr. Utley’s return to search for the fate of his father in a remote outpost of what was once Stalin’s Gulag. Mr. Utley’s mother was a British socialist, his father, Arkadi Berdichevsky, a minor Soviet official devoured in Stalin’s 1937 purge. Born in 1934, Mr. Utley and his mother then escaped to London on her British passport.

Before Putin took power, even during the Yeltsin years, the records of his father’s fate, along with that of millions of others, were still sealed. Yet it is during the era of Putin that official agencies to uncover, commemorate and rehabilitate the victims posthumously have occurred, and finally allowed Mr. Utley to uncover, with official Russian assistance, exactly what happened to his father.

All this I learned from Mr. Utley’s own documentary of several years ago, which is posted on YouTube.

#36 Comment By Smitty On January 13, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

Corruption is relative, Putin didn’t cost shift $5,000,000,000,000.00 in private foreign banker sub-prime loan fraud bad debts to Russian citizens did he? No but Obama did.

Did Putin legalize a criminal invasion of his own country? No but Obama did.

Did Putin give guns & missiles to ISIS? No but Obama did.

Did Putin create ISIS to remove Syria and gain leverage over Iraq? No but Obama did.

Did Putin remove the lawful Libyan govt and ally, dump advanced weapons unto jehadis and send a refugee wave across the globe? No but Obama did.

The real beef with Putin is he stopped the Communist elite looting in Russia, cold, that’s why we don’t like him anymore, Putin acts in the interest of Russians, not Socialist bankers.

America should be opening up trade with Russia, screw the Islamic broke Socialist EU.

#37 Comment By Mark On January 20, 2015 @ 3:07 pm

Restore the Tsar!

#38 Comment By Niżyński On January 20, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

“Yet many leading libertarians have been very soft on Putin’s elimination of political freedoms and ruination of his country”

Er, you do know what Russia looked like in 1999, don’t you? Putin is, of course, mishandling the Russian economy but he’s done a lot to advance it beyond the genuine ruination Yeltsin presided over.

I also thoroughly agree with Smitty that “The real beef with Putin is he stopped the Communist elite looting in Russia, cold, that’s why we don’t like him anymore, Putin acts in the interest of Russians, not Socialist bankers.”

Coincidentally, when Napoleon Bonaparte took power in France almost exactly 200 years before Putin (in November 1799), he also showed the bankers who was boss by locking up the richest one when they refused to bankroll the (defensive) war against Austria.

The bankers were far happier with the Directory as it was hopelessly corrupt and quite happy to run the entire country into the ground in their interests.

#39 Comment By Roman Skaskiw On February 22, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’ve been observing much the same (from INSIDE Ukraine).

You’d think some of these libertarians whom I’ve tried to correct would at least be CURIOUS for my inside perspective.

Please see my essays “Putin’s Libertarians”, and “When your former libertarian hero calls you a Nazi”.