Facts or Speculation: "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?" by Karen Dawisha

I have to admit that I believe the KGB-cum-FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) was behind false-flag attacks on Moscow apartments that were conducted as a pretext for Russia smashing the Chechen separatists.

Here's the Wikipedia on it:

Former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, along with a series of other authors such as Yury Felshtinsky, David Satter, Boris Kagarlitsky, Vladimir Pribylovsky, claimed in the early 2000s that the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities were a false flag attack coordinated by the FSB in order to win public support for a new full-scale war in Chechnya and boost former FSB Director Vladimir Putin's, then the prime minister, popularity in the lead-up to parliamentary elections and presidential transfer of power in Russia later that year.

Source: Federal Security Service Role in the Second Chechen War

I also should say that there is no doubt whatever that Vladimir Putin lives in the lap of ultra-luxury. Whether he technically (under the letter of Russian law) personally "owns" various of the many properties upon which he lives in Russia, etc. (other assets), is something I cannot now say. Barring Russia crashing or a severe regime change there, I believe he is going to live the rest of his life in opulence.

Those things said, I want to lay out the remainder of this post to say that allegations are one thing where substantiated facts are another.

Lastly by way of disclosure and brief introduction, I want to express again what I wrote in a previous post. I think Vladimir Putin has grown in office and literally saved Russia.

The neoconservatives in the US have been out to get Russia for decades now. They follow in a long line of ideologists who have sought the same and going back to even long before the Bolsheviks. It is well beyond the scope of this post to go into detail about that aspect.

The following, however, is a snippet that is the opening of the full Introduction of "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?" by Karen Dawisha:

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Putin’s Kleptocracy

IN REACTING to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine in early 2014, the U.S. government announced an unprecedented response: not the Russian state but individual Russian citizens would be subjected to asset seizures and visa bans. The Sixth Fleet was not called into action; exports to Russia as a whole were not banned; cultural and educational exchanges were not stopped. Rather, individual elites close to “a senior Russian Government official”—Vladimir Putin—were targeted.

Probably the most serious international crisis since the end of the Cold War, and the White House targets individuals. Why this response? Because at last, after fourteen years of dealing with President Vladimir Putin as a legitimate head of state, the U.S. government has finally acknowledged publicly what successive administrations have known privately—that he has built a system based on massive predation on a level not seen in Russia since the tsars.

Source: Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?: Karen Dawisha: 9781476795195: Amazon.com: Books.

The entire Introduction is a scathing attack on Vladimir Putin, assigning to him the most selfish and personally greedy motives.

The reason I raise it is because the book is used by US neocons to trash Putin.

The book was rejected by its authors customary publisher. Here is the reason given by that publisher:

A defamatory statement—in this case, a potential libel—is a false statement that undermines the reputation of the person about whom the statement is made. In a court of law, the fact-finder cannot just accept the writer or publisher’s assertion that a statement is true. In England in particular, a libel claimant can require the writer and publisher to prove truth, which in the case of your book, would be extremely difficult to do for many of the claims you make.

Source: A book too far

That message was intended by the publisher to remain confidential. It goes on to do its best to butter Karen Dawisha: "We have no reason to doubt the veracity of what you say...."

Well, I think the publisher made the right call in not publishing because Karen Dawisha doesn't couch her statements about Putin as being allegations or her suspicions but rather cold, hard facts, as if proven. Obviously, they were not proven or the publisher would have published the book. However, why did the publisher "have no reason to doubt the veracity of what" Karen Dawisha wrote about Putin and the others? Why even phrase it that way? Perhaps they meant the sincerity with which Ms. Dawisha holds her beliefs about Putin, et al.

Anyway, I then ran into this post: "Should I Waste My Time Reading Karen Dawisha’s “Putin’s Kleptocracy”?," by Natylie Baldwin, which I think state my thoughts on the matter.

There were indeed a few other causes for concern related to Ms. Dawisha’s overall credibility when I read her NYT piece. For example, in the fourth paragraph she states:

The market increasingly recognizes the risk of dealing with Russian companies, the largest of which is Gazprom. Despite having the world’s largest net profits, Gazprom was trading at one-third the stock market valuation of Exxon Mobil, due to what is widely regarded as rampant and Kremlin-directed corruption.

This allegation is particularly interesting when one considers that Transparency International’s most recent report states that Russian companies, Gazprom and Rosneft, scored higher than Exxon Mobil as well as Apple and Google, which are notorious for having poor scores. Furthermore, the report recognized a consistent upward trend in transparency and good corporate governance for the two Russian state-run fossil fuel companies. Is Transparency International a tool of the Kremlin now, Ms. Dawisha?

The whole article by Natylie Baldwin is worth the read.


Tom Usher

In the end though and as they say, you decide (for yourself).

Related links:

Excerpts: Novorossian Herald, No. 2, December 2014 | Novorossia Today

The Media War: Clash of Realities in the Ukraine Conflict - YouTube

Truth: "Ukraine: A year after Maidan, 'nothing has changed for the better'"

Ukraine: 'Without peace, humanitarian crisis will be uncontrollable', warns European Left

"All-Out War in Ukraine: NATO’s ‘Final Offensive"’? No, China


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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 – present, website developer and writer. 2015 – present, insurance broker.

    Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration.

    Volunteerism: 2007 – present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.

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