Voices from Russia

Friday, 5 January 2018

Do Russians Consider Putin a Dictator?


By any definition, Putin isn’t a dictator. He’s won the popular vote of the people, who had a choice between more candidates than can run in the USA, and won approval because he performed better than any current Western leader. He inherited a country controlled by the West, which forced privatisation of state assets, creating a tiny criminal oligarch class that destroyed the economy for everyone else. Corruption was the norm; violence and crime exploded, and the average family had a much more dramatic drop in quality of life than Americans did during the Great Depression… in fact, it was twice as deep as the Great Depression was. He took office and turned things around very quickly; his education in law and economics helped, along with his experience as a rising star in the Leningrad administration.

After two years, the growth rate of Russia for eight more years was second only to China during the same period. Wages increased, taxes fell from a high of 97 percent to a flat 13 percent, and foreign investment recovered. He built up the military to counter an increasing threat from NATO (the USA alone has 153 bases near Russia’s border) and formed many new alliances. Putin was a primary advocate for peace and negotiations between countries, being involved in most of the peace treaties around the world in the near past, including being behind the Iran deal that many claim is Obama’s only foreign policy success… Putin had much more input than the USA did. His help in saving Syria from foreign invasion increased his stature all over the world… except in areas controlled by the USA.

Putin is the most honest of current leaders, with a policy of government transparency; the apparat posts every speech, meeting, or press conference on the government website. During and after the Wall Street corruption crisis in 2008, his sound economic policies let Russia ride it out without harm, with home prices not dropping or unemployment increasing. Overall, opportunities, business climate, privacy, rule of law, the courts, healthcare, children’s services, pensions, and more all greatly improved. All this happened in an era when the average American family saw a dramatic decline in quality of life and economic security. On the contrary, the situation for Russians went the other way, to improvements. It’s easier to start a small business in Russia now than where I’m from, the USA. I started several and each became easier with reductions in documents and ease of complying with regulations. Cost of living remains very low, yet opportunities keep increasing. These factors account for the 82 percent who support him.

He’s certainly more effective and honest than any US President was during my lifetime. We’re used to politicians using weasel-words to avoid anyone pinning them down on anything, talking without saying anything that’s factually correct. On the other hand, Putin answers questions from anyone and replies directly, showing much knowledge of the issues involved. He’ll win in 2018 for the same reason that Roosevelt kept winning, except Putin has done more for Russia than Roosevelt did for the USA, even though FDR was surely the best president the USA ever had. Some also called him a dictator, but he never had the popularity that Putin has.

27 December 2017

Stan Jacox




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