Eurasia, History, Politics, Truth, War and peace

Is Vladimir Putin evil? (2/3)

Almost from the very start of his presidency, Vladimir Putin has been relentlessly vilified in the western media. If their portrayal of Mr. Putin reflected the objective truth, we should believe that the man has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. As I noted in the first in this series of excerpts from “Grand Deception,” systematic demonization of a nation’s leader predisposes many people to consent to war or regime change as means to help a stricken nation rid itself of a rotten, tyrannical leader. If we detest Vladimir Putin, we might approve of our intelligence communities orchestrating a coup to throw him out of power, even if the blood of some Russians is spilled in the process. It should be an honorable deed done for a greater good. Indeed, those who are desperate to have a regime change in Russia should be very keen for us to detest Mr. Putin. Hence the nonstop, un-nuanced negative coverage. Here I offer a different perspective: what if Putin isn’t an arch-villain? What if he does in fact have redeeming qualities? Should we not try to get to know the man a bit better before we shrug off another regime change or war to rid the world of tyrants? Continue reading

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Eurasia, History, Politics, Truth

Is Vladimir Putin evil? (1/3)

Western corporate media has cast Vladimir Putin as the main villain of today’s geopolitics. If their coverage of Russia’s president were truthful and objective, we’d have to conclude that Putin has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, that he is the greediest, most ruthless tyrant since Genghis Khan and that he had turned his government into a lawless mafia state. Indeed, unflattering, negative coverage of Vladimir Putin is pervasive, but where concrete evidence should be presented, ceaseless repetition of allegations is taken as sufficient proof.

Joseph Goebbels’ technique of the big lie entails deceiving people with big, brazen lies and repeating them unrelentingly. If truth is to set us free, we must spread it with boldness and determination. We must push back and expose the lies. They who desire wars are few, and we who desire peace are many. Even if they can silence some of us, they can not silence us all. Do your part, reject fear and the lies, and together we can put an end to today’s dystopian state of permanent war. Continue reading

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Eurasia, History, Politics, War and peace

Why I wrote “Grand Deception.”

In the past year, quite a few people have asked me why I wrote “Grand Deception,” my twice banned book about Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act and the historical relations between Russia and the West. Several of them suggested that I write down what I had told them, since it seems relevant given the risk of military threats we are facing today. So here goes… Continue reading

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Eurasia, History, Politics

“Grand Deception” book review

Positive reviews are one of the most gratifying rewards in publishing a book, but reviews that are as thoughtful and generous as the one I’ve recently received from Harley Schlanger is a rare thing. More rare still is a review that actually adds depth and perspective to the subject matter and is a worthwhile read in itself. Here goes: Continue reading

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Eurasia, History, Politics

6/6: the 1990s Russian catastrophe could have been avoided

It is commonly accepted that, after 70 years of Communist dictatorship, Russia’s 1990s transition was inevitably going to be a massive train wreck. This is yet another convenient misconception that western intellectuals like to embrace. The foregoing article seeks to dispel this notion and set the historical record straight. It is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book, “Grand Deception: the Truth About Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Anti-Russia Sanctions”. The book’s previous incarnation was banned last summer.

This is the last in a six-part series on Russia’s 1990s transition from communism to capitalism. Links to previous posts: introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. Continue reading

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History, Politics

5/6: the transition that took five million lives

In a recent appearance on FOX News, U.S. senator Ted Cruz stated categorically that Vladimir Putin was a KGB thug who said that the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 21st century was the dissolution of the Soviet Union (the quote and the warped timeline Cruz’s own). The foregoing article should explain why Vladimir Putin may have said something of the sort. It is part 5 in a six-part series on Russia’s 1990s transition from communism to capitalism, excerpted from Chapter 3 of my book, “Grand Deception: the Truth About Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Anti-Russia Sanctions.” The book’s previous incarnation was banned last summer.

Links to previous posts: introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

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Eurasia, History, Politics

4/6: the Enterprise – role of the deep state in 1990s raid on Russia

The foregoing article is part 4 in a six-part series on Russia’s transition from communism to capitalism during the 1990s. Links to previous posts: introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3. It is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book, “Grand Deception: the Truth About Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Anti-Russia Sanctions.” The book’s previous incarnation was banned last summer by some of the same actors we’ll be discussing today. This post should prove relevant today, in light of hysterical rebukes of President Trump‘s recent summit with his Russian counter part in Finland, particularly regarding the role and trustworthiness of the so-called “intelligence community.”

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Economics, Eurasia, History, Inflation, Politics

3/6: the strangulation of Russian economy in the 1990s was a deliberate IMF policy

… if the notion of billions of barrels of proven oil reserves and billions of tons of gold fills your dreams with visions of red-hot cash flow and ice-cold vodka, then Boris Yeltsin just might find some work for you. – Paul Hofheinz, Fortune Magazine, 23 September 1991[1]

The foregoing article is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book “Grand Deception: the Truth about Bill Browder, Magnitsky Act and Anti-Russian Sanctions.” Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Shock therapy gave Russia one of the worst and longest economic depressions of the 20th century, an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe for a peace time crisis, and a criminally inequitable privatization of public assets. The reasons why things happened this way in Russia generally aren’t well understood in the west. Even among better informed intellectuals, the failure of shock therapy is often thought to be vaguely related to some sinister flaw in the Russian society. It is what Bill Browder characterized as “the dirty dishonesty of Russia,” or “Russia’s evil foundation,” which spawned corruption and criminality of staggering proportions. In this toxic environment, the sweet fruits of western democracy and capitalism simply could not grow in spite of the generous benevolence of Russia’s western friends.

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Eurasia, History, Politics

2/6: Russian lawmakers’ revolt and the 1993 Constitutional crisis

We created a virtual open shop for thievery at a national level and for capital flight in terms of hundreds of billions of dollars, and the reaping of natural resources and industries on a scale which I doubt has ever taken place in human history. – E. Wayne Merry, chief political analyst at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (1990-1994)

The foregoing article is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book “Grand Deception: the Truth about Bill Browder, Magnitsky Act and Anti-Russian Sanctions.” Part 1 is here.

Economic reforms and privatization were highly destructive for Russia. They were also achieved outside of the legitimate legal framework. To sidestep the government agencies and circumvent the parliament, Yeltsin’s government worked through a network of private agencies and non-governmental organizations set up by Anatoly Chubais, his associates, and their western advisers. One of the most important of these organizations was the Russia Privatization Center (RPC), set up by the HIID and Anatoly Chubais under a presidential decree. RPC’s directors were Andrei Schleifer and Chubais himself. Exemplifying corruption and conflicts of private and public interests in Yeltsin’s cabinet, Chubais simultaneously headed the private RPC and the government’s GKI (Federal Agency for State Property Management). This didn’t seem to bother RPC’s western sponsors; in addition to a $45 million grant from USAID, RPC obtained $59 million credit from the World Bank, $43 million from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and further funding from the European Union, Japan and several individual European Governments.[1] HIID also helped establish the Federal Commission on Securities, also with USAID’s money.

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Economics, Eurasia, History, Policy, Politics

1/6: How Russia decided to go from communism to capitalism in the 1990s

The foregoing article is an excerpt from the third chapter of my book, “Grand Deception,” which I wrote in response to Bill Browder’s bestseller, “Red Notice” but also as a retort to the relentless demonization campaign against Russia and its leadership in the West. Browder, an investor and hedge fund manager who made his fortune in the 1990s Russia, describes his fascinating experience during that time. However, he almost entirely glosses over the broader context within which events played out. Instead, he offers the same terse explanation he had regurgitated countless times in his various presentations and speeches, and it goes like this: after the collapse of the USSR, the government of Russia decided to go from communism to capitalism.[1] They thought that the best way to do this would be by giving everything away practically for free through various privatization schemes. Very rapidly, they transferred the nation’s economic resources into private hands.

But the unusual aspect of this transfer was that the private hands that received Russia’s wealth were not the same ones that had built it up since there were no restrictions on who could participate in the privatization program. As a result, the crown jewels of the nation’s productive resources ended up in the hands of a small group of oligarchs, most of whom covertly represented the interests of various western financiers.

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