Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The wise and all-seeing leader

The late unlamented (by most people) Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was during his lifetime often describedthe world's greatest leader as well as being completely omniscient. Every now and then he would leave the cares of state and his never-ceasing watch over the people behind and would unbend his mind to put scientists or linguists or agricultural experts right about whatever it was they were wrong about. Woe betide anyone who ignored the great sage's guidance.

Even Stalin was not quite as hands-on as the former President, now Prime Minister, Putin appears to be. They do seem to have one thing in common – an ability to get the western media all excited by their activity. The Russian media has little choice.

The story that has convulsed the MSM a couple of days ago was that of Vladimir Putin and the Siberian tiger. I need not spend too much time on the actual story as it was written up everywhere but the pictures are worth looking at and one or two questions do arise.

The account in the Sydney Morning Herald is as good as any other.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has tried to boost his macho image by shooting tranquilisers at a Siberian tiger.

Putin, dressed in combat fatigues, was with a team of wildlife researchers in the Ussuri reserve in Russia's far east when the tiger escaped its harness and headed towards a television crew.

Armed with a tranquiliser gun, Putin shot at the tiger, which soon slumped to the ground.
Amazing. There was nobody better qualified there to deal with the escaped tiger either before or after it had been shot with a tranquilizer gun? I mean, do they all need careful instructions on how to deal with the problem? That is certainly the impression one gets from the second photograph where the omniscient one appears to be instructing someone else on the best way to deal with the stunned tigress.

Apparently, the tranquilizer worked immediately. Sheesh! That's superior Russian technology for you. How long does something like that take normally? About 20 minutes, I have been told.

The Aussies seem a little sceptical as one reads the story.

It seems that not a summer goes by without some macho image of the former President, now Prime Minister appearing in the media. In this he has long outstripped Stalin and his henchmen as well as his successors who usually preferred to appear in jolly poses, perhaps post-hunting but with children and happy friends and family members. Our Vlad does not seem to like that. When did we last see him with his family, just enjoying himself, not throwing judo opponents over his shoulder or riding bare-chested with a knife stuck in his belt or brandishing a tranquilizer gun?

Why on earth was he wearing combat fatigues anyway? Is this all part of the message he is trying to convey to the Russian people: the country is constantly at war with its neighbours, all of whom are her enemies and are merely thinking of invading as soon as possible?

Meanwhile, there is trouble in Ingushetiya. (That's next door to Chechnya in north Caucasus.)
The owner of the embattled opposition web site was killed Sunday after being detained by police, and his supporters promised massive protests that could lead to a sharp escalation in violence in the restive region.

Magomed Yevloyev, a prominent opposition member and staunch critic of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, was detained in Ingushetia's main city of Nazran as he stepped off a plane from Moscow, his lawyer and friend Kaloi Akhilgov said by telephone.
The police maintain it was an accident that happened while Yevloyev tried to wrestle an assault rifle away from a police officer in the police car. In the process he was accidentally shot in the head. I am a little surprised they did not go for the suicide explanation.

Other people give different accounts:
Ingush opposition activist Magomed Khazbiyev said Yevloyev was found lying near a Nazran hospital with a bullet in his temple, Interfax reported.

He died during an operation at the hospital, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee in the Prosecutor General's Office. The Investigative Committee has opened an investigation into the death that might lead to charges being filed against the local police, Markin said, Interfax reported.
As they say, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

The protest that had started during Mr Yevloyev's funeral was broken up by baton-wielding police though the police are denying that as well.

President Medvedev, meanwhile, possibly to show that he is as tough as his predecessor, now Prime Minister, has announced that President Saakashvili is a "political corpse" and should, presumably, be given a decent burial. Whatever one may think of President Saakashvili and his ability to withstand Russian provocation, the fact remains that he was elected by the people of Georgia. Therefore, despite the many Western comments about him being the wrong person in that position because the Kremlin does not like it, the fact remains that Georgia is no longer a Russian colony.

Needless to say, the whole mess is America's fault (but President Prime Minister Putin will solve it all with his tranquilizer gun) and there was praise for the European Union, which refused to impose sanctions, though did suspend talks on a strategic pact until Russia withdraws her troops from Georgia. Apparently there have been suggestions that those troops will be withdrawn. We have, I believe, been here before.

The BBC Russian Service reports that Georgia has broken off diplomatic relations with Russia and employees of the Russian embassy will be leaving Tbilisi. There is also a brief report that Vice-President Cheney is about to visit Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine.

Turkey has been complaining that there are delays for its goods at Russian border crossings, a move that is seen as a "punishment" because the country has dared to allow "US warships carrying aid to Georgia to pass through the Turkish straits, which connect the Mediterranean to the Black Sea" and is thinking about retaliatory gestures.

Not so, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is visiting Istanbul.
This is not an action directed against Turkey; Turkey is not being singled out. There can be no politics involved in trade.
Of course not. And the best person to subdue an escaped tigress is a country's President Prime Minister.