Putin Warns Protesters: "You Will Be Hit on The Head with Batons"
Russian democracy needs a reset.
2:15 PM, Sep 1, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
By way of Reuters, a troubling interview with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin:
That's the kind of rhetoric you'd expect from a man who just spent the last few days hunting whales with crossbows and delivering stern warnings to Russia's bear population. Aside from the fact that Putin is wholly comfortable with discussing cracking protesters' skulls in a public forum, these latest reports are revealing.
First, Putin seems uninterested in pretending that Russia is still a democracy -- a farce that had, admittedly, gone on long enough. Second, he unapologetically mocks Western diplomatic engagement, which is bold even by shoe-thumping Russian standards. Putin said that a "long term rearming of Georgia" is currently underway (a blatant falsehood, considering Georgia can't even get M4 replacement parts or a few training Humvees for Afghanistan), while Moscow continues to violate the French-brokered ceasefire agreement after the 2008 South Ossetia War. As an aggressive underscore to this point, Russia recently shipped the advanced S-300 SAM system to South Osseita and Abkhazia, allowing them to hold most of Georgian airspace at risk.
Even President Obama's vaunted reset policy isn't safe. Despite the fact that Obama unilaterally yanked ballistic missile defense from Poland and the Czech Republic, and allowed language potentially damaging to U.S. BMD plans for Iran into the new START treaty, reaction to Washington's engagement efforts bordered on hostile.
Now there's some common ground. We don't see it either.