Imagine yourself locked up in a room with tiresome children all around you. Most of them are expressing their simple needs using a mixture of screaming and weeping as their main argument. Some are taking self-portraits in the mirror using their newly acquired smartphones while the so-called ‘bullies’ are waiting for the best moment to attack. Yet, there is a fundamental power always ready to intervene: the parents.
This is more or less how the world of the modern diplomacy looks like: hell on earth for the likes of old-school Machiavellian politicians. And life must be full of sorrow when you wake up as Vladimir Putin!
Mr. Putin grew up in the times of the mighty communism. For sixteen years had he been serving as an officer in the KGB, the institutional offspring of NKWD, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Then, supposedly, he decided that something was missing in his life. In the pursuit of fulfilment, Putin joined the administration of Boris Yeltsin, seeing it as the shortest way to attain nirvana and reincarnate as a cow somewhere in India. Since the latter was too drunk to reign over millions, Vladimir Putin quickly climbed up the ladder of power using his undoubted political talents. And so the glorious story began.
Today, Russia is ruled by the duumvirate of Putin and Medvedev. Sarcastic observers may dare to call it “tandemocracy” and face the risk of death by doing so. Mass media are under scrutiny of the regime, with kitschy propaganda constituting the surface of the available information. Putin is portrayed as a tough guy, hunting Siberian tigers, flying jets and leading birds to migrations. To add some absurdity on top, “Putin’s Army” is an organisation of young Russian women who say they will do anything for their beloved one. The most notable performance included scantily clad girls washing the Russian-made cars free of charge. He even has a shrine where people worship him as a saviour and saint, named the incarnation of Grand Prince Vladimir of Rus. Obviously, these are just extreme examples from one side of the spectrum. The personal opinions of Russian people are heavily divided, with the opposition growing stronger in proportion to the years in power.
The more recent concern is the approach to the persona of Vladimir Putin in the context of Syrian conflict. While some people still laugh at B-class PR of the Russian president and search for signs of him becoming a Bond villain, there has been a stream of thought directed into proclaiming Putin the guardian of freedom and peace throughout the world. He was the one to stop armed intervention and call for the peaceful solution, wasn’t he? This is simply absurd. We are talking about the man who took controversial part in the Second Chechen War, invaded Georgia and provided ammunition for the Assad’s government in the most recent conflict. To understand the situation, we must take a look at the facts: Syria is the last of Russia’s political allies in the region, with friendly traditions having roots in the times of the Cold War. Preserving its autonomy is a point of honour and national interest of Russia.
Before I get poisoned and die a slow, agonizing death, let me draw some conclusions. The opposition to armed intervention in Syria was a result of a balance of political interests and taking advantage of the situation. That is all. Putin is no saviour and definitively not a guardian of human liberties. He won the battle, but he cannot win the war. However, as the competition enhances economy, the mere existence of the opposite pole of thought may have some beneficial effects on the world as long as we all practice dialogue and understanding.