Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Vladimir Putin: Russian Savior or Great Deceiver?

Since 2000 Russia's President Putin has taken his country from bleakness to a glimmer of sunlight

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues taking Russia into the 21st Century with progressive ideas for growth and prosperity.

While many in the West view Putin as evil incarnate and someone to be feared because of what some political analysts see as an old-style Soviet Union expansionist worldview there are more who are starting to see the Russian leader with a different set of eyes.

Over the last several years since being voted in by the Russian people in a freely held election process Putin has taken strides to lift Russia out of its economic quagmire that was a major factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. He has spearheaded efforts to bring about a sort of capitalistic approach to the financial sector without totally embracing the American-style of economics. From reigning in the growing power of the Russian mafia after the collapse to a slow-paced improvement in his country’s infrastructure Putin is being seen by a growing majority of his people as a welcome change from the status quo.

The reforms he has brought to Russia over the last few years have been dubbed “Putinism” and range from returning a sense of pride and Russian patriotism to the people who for so long had been under the thumb of repressive Soviet control despite the fact that as a former member in the defunct KGB Putin was one of those oppressing digits. Under his leadership anti-Semitism has lessened but is still prevalent in certain districts within its borders.

Some see his strong-armed use of Russian troops to restore some semblance of order to Chechnya as a good thing while others viewed it as just another shade of his totalitarian ambition to bring back his country to militaristic super power status. Then there is the Ukraine and his successful annexation of Crimea back into the Russian fold. While most in the West recognize that Crimea, for the most part, wanted back in the arms of Mother Russia, the overt attention being paid by Putin to the Ukraine is a cause of concern for the United States and the European Union.

One area where Putin is succeeding where so many other world leaders continue to fail is his success at removing nearly every terrorist threat from within the Russian border. It is true that his methods for control over terrorism are reminiscent of the iron-fisted manner of his Soviet predecessors but overall he has been highly successful in eradicating the threat.

Putin’s leadership role in Syria when chemical weapons were used on civilians without question made American President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department look like rank amateurs. He was able to bring a reasoned and well-devised remedy to what could have been a disaster that might well have sucked the nations of the globe into a major world war.

Domestically Putin has brought about changes that at least three generations never experienced. Citizens were allowed to come and go with a little more freedom that previously enjoyed. Freedom of religion was expanded as well as a sense of liberty to openly complain about their politicians, leaders and conditions in the country.

Under Putin’s presidency individual citizens are allowed to engage in business practices that would make western capitalist beam with pride. More goods and services have become available as has the ability to create and experiment with new ideas. Freedom of expression, especially over the internet has become less restrictive.

Putin has also developed a Kennedy-esque vision of outer space. At the beginning of September 2014 he announced the construction of a new spaceport designed for future missions to the Moon and Mars.

In a press statement Putin said, “Our own space infrastructure and modern network of cosmodromes will allow Russia to strengthen its standing as a leading space superpower and guarantee the independence of space activities. In the future, the capacity of the cosmodrome will be expanded to be used to realize program(s) to explore the Moon, Mars and other space objects.”

This news, along with the recent revelation that Russia has successfully developed a new rocket design, puts Putin’s country back on the map for space exploration and future colonization of other planets while the U.S. space program at NASA continues facing spending cuts, project setbacks and program delays.

Without making it sound like Russia under the guidance of Vladimir Putin has become a haven of free thinking, liberty loving capitalism - it still has a long way to go in terms of real free enterprise and true independence - it is obvious that Mr. Putin isn't the devious baddie many in the West would like everyone to believe. He bears watching but perhaps from a point of view open to new possibilities.

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