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article imageOp-Ed: Vladimir Putin returns to power

By Eliot Elwar     May 11, 2012 in Politics
Recently, Vladimir Putin switched occupations with Dmitry Medvedev when he returned to Russia's presidency after four years as Russia’s prime minister.
According to the New York Times, with some opposition, Russia’s parliament confirms Medvedev. Within 24 hours after he stepped down from Russia’s presidency, Dmitri A. Medvedev was confirmed as prime minister on Tuesday, 8 May 2012. His actions finished a prearranged political agreement with Putin that was tarnished by uncommon disapproval of his candidacy in Russia’s Parliament. Medvedev’s rise to Russia’s second-highest office was a predetermined operation, considering that Putin had assured him the position in exchange for surrendering his own presidential ambitions.
As reported by Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, Moscow’s law enforcement officials say they have detained hundreds of protesters, including a few opposition leaders, during a mass opposition rally in the capital before Putin's inauguration as Russian president for a third term. The police force clashed with a protester group led by anticorruption bloggers. A few opposition leaders broke away from the sanctioned demonstrations and tried to march on the Kremlin.
USA Today reported that Vladimir Putin returned to power on May 7 amongst riots from demonstrators and questions about handling a changed Russia since he last ran the nation four years ago.
"Mr. Putin faces serious economic and political questions at home," said Steven Pifer, who is an expert on Russia at the Washington-based Brookings Institution think tank. He may need to change his political skills to deal with a more liberated Russia. The nation’s economic growth is slow and the country remains dependent on energy exports for revenue. Today world powers are putting more pressure on Russia to end its support for Iran’s nuclear program.
According to The National Post, during a pageantry and power display, Putin was sworn in for his third term as Russia’s president while riot police arrested protesters. There were no cheering crowds or flag-waving supporters as Putin’s security force took him through downtown Moscow to attend his inauguration celebration in front of a preselected crowd. Putin’s swearing-in was overshadowed by violent clashes between riot police and protesters shouting “No to Putin.” Many thousands of people marched through Moscow protesting against Putin’s return to power.
For the past few months, Russia’s confident new middle class population has rejected the outcome of Russia’s corrupt presidential and parliamentary elections. Their protests have polarized the nation and while they have not threatened Putin’s life and his hold on power, they could force him to reaffirm himself politically, according toThe National Post.
The Wall Street Journal reported that at the beginning of his second term as Russia's president, Putin gathered some leading economic policy researchers for brainstorming in his dacha. Among them was José Piñera, who had been a cabinet minister in Chile during the 16-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Piñera's advice went beyond economics when he warned Putin against holding on to power too long and he recommended that Putin leave office after two terms.
Reuters reported that Russia's lower house of parliament recently confirmed former president Medvedev as prime minister, completing a job swap with Putin that has sparked protests against the two leaders' grip on power. The approval vote ignored growing concern in the country that keeping power in the hands of the same people who have led Russia for the past few years could bring political and financial sluggishness. Russian law enforcement personnel led away a few people, including two opposition leaders, when they broke up a peaceful protest near the Kremlin hours before the vote, after detaining hundreds during previous days to keep a lid on opposition protest.
According to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, during his February 1997 state of the nation address, President Boris Yeltsin stated that the "criminal world has openly challenged the state and launched into an open competition with it," warning that "there is corruption at every level of power." His worry illustrated the danger presented by Russian organized crime elements, which threaten both U.S. national security and law enforcement interests.
Today, Russian organized crime destabilizes Russian backing for financial liberalization and political reformation by co-option and corruption of organizations within government and the marketable sector. Russian organized crime groups present an exceptional law enforcement problem, while they jeopardized public safety throughout the world through their transnational criminal enterprises.
The Guardian reported that Wiki-leaks cables describe Russia as a mafia state. Moscow depends on criminals and rewards them with political support, while top officials accumulate kickbacks.
Russia is a corrupt, autocratic pseudo-democracy concentrated on Putin’s leadership, where corrupt officials, dangerous oligarchs, and gangsters are tied together to form a mafia state, according to Wikileak’s secret diplomatic cables. The cables revealed information about Russian criminal offshore bank accounts in Cyprus, suitcases filled with money, extortion and kickbacks, protection for gangsters, personal enrichment, money laundering, and arms trafficking. The cables portray a desolate depiction of a political system where bribery totals roughly 300 billion dollars a year, and where it is difficult to differentiate between the Russian government and organized crime operations.
According to ABC News, Russian cyber criminals rake in billions of dollars. They raked in approximately $4 billion in 2011, roughly a third of the $12.5 billion global cybercrime market, where half of the criminal activity occurred in Russia. The criminals doubled their earnings since 2010. The report was recently released by a Russian cybercrime investigation company. The company found that cybercrime in Russia and its surrounding nations has become more sophisticated because traditional mafia rings have begun operating in the digital world.
Analysis
Russia is ripe for dictatorship. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, political corruption and organized crime remains very high in Russia, while poverty pervades. Russian organized crime is worse than a simple infection because it has metastasized into an incurable disease proliferating into every cell of the nation. Russia has transformed into a criminal state controlled enterprise under the domination of a lethal concoction of corrupt businessmen, crooked politicians, and mafia gangsters. Russian organized crime has global reach. While Moscow might want to improve investment in Russia, foreign investors are cautious about putting currency into a nation decorated with corruption.
When analyzing the gravity and depth of Russia’s criminal enterprise, we see that Putin was never free from its infectious bite. Putin worked in cooperation with the mafia and he made use of their criminal lords to retain his sinister grasp on the country. Putin used law enforcement to protect the organized criminal networks by encouraging bribery as a form of income for the police and law-enforcement officials. Putin used money gained through criminal activity to promote his own political objectives. Putin’s past criminal operations means that his assassination is almost destined to occur, which will be similar to how mafia gangsters replace their opponents by violence. When Putin is murdered, Russia’s situation will be the ideal breeding ground for dictators.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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