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Vladimir Putin

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  1. Inventing Russia Vladimir Putin

  2. Politics in the 90s • 1993 a new constitution approved • New parliament (the “Duma”), half from party lists, half from single member constituencies • Powers of President strengthened • President appoints Prime Minister, cabinet • “Russia Votes” – analysis of Russian voting patterns • 1996 Eltsin makes a comeback as President from certain defeat with the money of Boris Berezovsky • Eltsin dances during campaign • November 1996 – bypass operation

  3. Eltsin’s second term: Politics • 1996 reelected on second round against Gennady Ziuganov (Communist) • 1996 Alexander Lebed signs peace deal with Chechen leaders • Rotating prime ministers • Communists control Duma: block reforms • Rich oligarchs control Kremlin (Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky, Potanin, Smolensky) • Eltsin’s image as a drunken buffoon

  4. Political Parties: The Communist Party (KPRF) • Leader: Gennady Ziuganov (b. 1944) • Share of vote to Duma: • 1993 11.6 % • 1995 22.3% (34 % of seats in Duma) • 1999 24.3%

  5. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Right-wing nationalist party • Leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (b. 1946) • Popular intemperate buffoon. • Took votes away from Communists • Zhirinovsky in European Parliament

  6. Democratic parties • Yabloko – Led by Grigory Yavlinsky (right) • Democratic Party of Russia • In 1993 get about 10 % of the vote

  7. Moscow… the centre of it all • Throughout the Eltsin era – Moscow is the centre of Russia, sucking the resources out of the rest of the country. • Moscow becomes symbol of Russian identity. • Yury Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow, masterminds Moscow’s evolution. • 2010 Medvedev fires Luzhkov for corruption.

  8. Eltsin Period: Economics • Late 1990s – oil prices collapse • 1998 the Default: Russia defaults on GKOs (government bonds) • Ruble goes from 6 to the $ to 18, then 30. • Huge budget deficits • Unpaid salaries and pensions • Inflation and financial instability; banks collapse • Crippling taxes on small business • Flight of capital offshore • Vulnerability of economy to falling oil prices

  9. Eltsin Period: Government • Television controlled by oligarchs Berezovsky, Gusinsky • Russia is a chaos of competing chains of organized crime • Federal government disorganized, unreformed • Weak central power & strong regions • Compromise with Chechens leads to chaos in the Caucasus

  10. Backgrounder: Oil prices

  11. Who is Putin? • Law degree from Leningrad State University • Recruited by KGB (1975-1991) • Worked in GDR (East Germany) 1985-1990 • On return to Russia worked in administration of Anatoly Sobchak, liberal mayor of St Petersburg • 1998 Becomes head of FSB, successor to KGB

  12. Personal characteristics • Paradoxical figure: liberal and KGB backgrounds • Stiff, awkward in formal situations • Personable likeable one-to-one • Perceived by ordinary Russians as their kind of guy • Extremely intelligent and articulate • Hardworking and well-briefed • Can be ruthless when necessary

  13. The new man... • August 1999 Vladimir Putin appointed prime minister of Russia by Eltsin • September 1999 Putin opens second Chechen war • Organizes new party “Unity” with Boris Berezovsky’s money for December elections • Putin named acting president by Eltsin on December 31, 1999

  14. Getting through the Duma • Putin’s objective: to break the logjam in the Duma (parliament) that had blocked efforts at reform • Gradually over three elections with changes in the electoral law (eliminating single-member districts), United Russia becomes the dominant party • Russia Votes

  15. Putin’s programme: Russian conservatism • Economic reform: appoints first-class economists (Kudrin, Gref, Chubais) to important posts • Balance budget, repay foreign debt, build up stabilization fund while oil and gas prices are high • Tax reform: flat income tax of 13% • Private ownership of land • Increase wealth of Russia: during his 8 years in office, average salaries increase 6 times • Pensions, public sector salaries paid on time • Current endebtedness of Russia

  16. Disasters: The Kursk • 12 August 2000 Kursk submarine incident: nuclear sub experiences explosion in torpedo, sinks to the bottom of the sea

  17. Disasters: Hostage-taking in Moscow • 23 October 2002 Nordost hostage taking: 850 people at musical taken hostage by about 40 Islamic terrorists • After three days 39 terrorists and 129 hostages killed (mostly by gas pumped into the building by Special forces)

  18. Russian identity: a new nationalism • Reverts to the anthem of the USSR with new patriotic words: Russian national anthem • Strengthens the role of the Russian Orthodox Church. • Propaganda in favour of the achievements of Russia AND the USSR (victory in 1945, sputniks, sport) • Begins to rebuild armed forces

  19. “Vertical of power” • Centralization of all power in the hands of the president in Moscow • Unity Party (Edinstvo) develops into United Russia (Edinaia Rossia) • organization of Russian political life around one party reaching down from the Kremlin to local levels • Local governors’ job: to turn out the vote and support Kremlin’s initiatives • Other tame parties tolerated so long as they do not try to claim more than token power.

  20. Khodorkovsky & Co • Takes on the oligarchs – deeply unpopular with Russians • Warns oligarchs not to meddle in politics • Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of oil company Yukos arrested in 2003, tried for tax fraud, sent to Siberia • Seizes their assets; Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky driven into exile

  21. The media are the message • Takes over the TV stations formerly owned by oligarchs: Berezovsky, Gusinsky • TV self-censorship: no criticism or ridicule of president or policies • Numerous investigative journalists murdered, including Anna Politkovskaia • Recently introduced English-language world-wide service Russia Today to give Russian point of view

  22. Rewriting the constitution I • Rules for elections continually rewritten to favour United Russia: • minimum 7% vote to get into Duma, • single-member districts eliminated: only party lists allowed • Result: independents eliminated, only four parties currently represented in Duma: UR, CPRF, LDPR, Fair Russia

  23. Rewriting the Constitution II: Governors • Beginning 2004 (after Beslan) governors of regions now appointed by the President, not elected, only approved by regional assemblies (usually dominated by UR) • Inefficient or corrupt governors can be removed by Presidential decree

  24. The burgeoning bureaucracy • Putin’s programme requires a hugely bureaucratic state • Corruption blossoms at every level from police to ministries: no free press to expose abuses, bureaucrats have unlimited power • Transparency International puts Russia at 147 on world perception of corruption index • Bureaucracy stifles free enterprise: small and medium-sized businesses harrassed by local officials • Bureaucracy often hand-in-glove with monopolies to suppress competition

  25. International context: responding to aggressive US policy • NATO/US Expansion into E. Europe • 1999 Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary • 2004 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia • Independence of Kosovo even though U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 guaranteed the territorial integrity of Serbia • Huge US base in Kosovo (Camp Bonisteel)

  26. The “Coloured Revolutions” • September 2000 – “Otpor!” Yugoslavia Milošević ousted • November 2003 – Georgia “Rose Revolution”: Saakashvili replaces Shevardnadze • November 2004 – Ukraine “Orange Revolution”“Pora!” Viktor Yanukovich defeated by Viktor Yushchenko • March 2005 – Kyrgyzstan “Tulip Revolution”: President Akayev replaced by Bakiyev

  27. Putin in Munich

  28. The Rebirth of “Peter”: Rebuilding Peter’s city • When working in Sobchak’s administration, Putin had a picture of Peter the Great over his desk • St Petersburg tercentenary in 2003: Russia hosts the G8 • St Petersburg designated as cultural centre

  29. St Petersburg and Russian Cultural Heritage:The Hermitage Museum

  30. The Mariinka • Known in Soviet times as the “Kirov” after a murdered party boss • Resumes its old name • World-class centre of music, ballet and opera • Director Valery Gergiev • Revolutionary new styles and repertoire

  31. Aleksandr Sokurov:The Russian Ark (2002) • Revolutionary film taken in one shot in the Hermitage on the shortest day of the year • Steadycam glides through the halls of the Museum • Panorama of Russian history

  32. Questions • Why is Putin so popular? • Could anyone else have done a better job? • Is the “power vertical” the natural form of government for Russia? • Is the course plotted by Putin sustainable in the long term?