Monday, May 15, 2006

Kremlin Rising

Another book read, more information consumed. I just can't go long without intaking words from book form. The latest was on the subject of recent Russian history entitled Kremlin Rising, Vladimir Putin's Russia and the End of Revolution by Washington Post Moscow bureau chiefs Susna Glasser and Peter Baker.

I was somewhat startled by the information about Russia that we never seem to hear about in our media. Of course since Putin took over Russia has once again become a state-controlled media, thus independent Russian information is gone. Only reporters from the West can really report honestly these days, and I'm betting that that situation is going to fade as well. For one reason, Western media corporations have invested little in Russia, and probably have cut back on Russian reporting.

The book is quite extensive in reporting how democracy is fading fast under Putin. How he has quashed opposition parties and even orchestrated election results using the state-controlled media as an aid.

Several newsmaking events are covered in depth including the Beslan school siege, the Chechnya War, the Moscow theatre siege and the sinking of the Kursk submarine. Particularily interesting in all of these incidents is the handling by Putin using lies and disinformation.

The numbers held hostage in Beslan was vastly underreported by Putin's government. The submarine sinking was littered with lies that made it impossible for international help to be successful. And the Moscow theatre siege was "solved" by using untested sleeping gas that the Putin governmnet has still refused to acknowledge the dangers in the use and the cause of death and injury to the hostages. The Chechnya War is explained by Putinites as almost a copy of how American government explained Viet Nam.

Further interesting coverage in the book is Russia's growing AIDs problem and the lack of addressing it. As well as an alarming death to birth ratio. The country is dying faster than can be born.

But most interesting to me was how the remnants of the KGB is now becoming a powerful political force under Putin in the guise of a new agency called the Federal Security Service or in Russian initials FSB. If Putin continues Russia's conversion back to a totalitarian state we will be hearing of a new ominous three letter agency, the FSB.

And finally the George Bush/Putin love affair is covered. From the early stages of Bush looking into Putin's eyes and immediately trusting him to the handshake about Chechnya being a "war on terrorism" to an untrusting relationship now.

I certainly learned much about Putin and how Russia is moving along in the new millenium from this book. And now I'm perking up whenever I see or hear about Russia today.


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