Being Vladimir Putin and the Russian Presidenttext_fields
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is one of the most powerful people on the planet. He has at his fingertips the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. He could end the human race in 10 minutes. What makes him tick?
President Putin is a paranoid megalomaniac. He is utterly unprincipled and bereft of common humanity. He may well have a personality disorder that makes him feel impelled to frighten others and to have them cowering in submission. V V Putin is bloodless but not unemotional. He has a brittle ego and can be furious. He has no sense of humour. He only ever laughs when he is caught without an answer to a pointed question.
Most people dislike lying. They only do so when they feel they have to and they believe that they can get away with it. Putin is utterly dishonourable and mendacious. He is a shameless liar and does not care that he is constantly exposed as telling outright lies. In Putin’s mind truth and falsity have swapped places.
There is nominative determinism. His name Vladimir means ‘peaceful ruler.’ He is anything but! However, this name is the same as the Russian ruler who in the 10th century AD forcibly converted the people of Kyivan Rus to Orthodox Christianity. Today does V V Putin see it as providential that fate should have chosen this name for him? Does he misperceive it as his destiny to retake Kyiv and to be the defender of Orthodox Christianity?
President Putin poses as religious. He has himself filmed in church. However, he does not pray except at the main festivals nor does he fast at Easter. Religion is an affectation to appeal to a segment of the Russian populace. He has done nothing to advance the Christian agenda. He certainly does not believe in the Christian values of peace and mercy. When he was in the secret police he had no qualms about brutally oppressing Christian worshippers.
On TV in 2022 Putin likened himself to Peter the Great. Tsar Peter III was the one who took the mouth of the River Neva from the Swedes and founded the city of St Petersburg. That is where President Putin was born. He is patently imbued with a sense of historic destiny. However, unlike Peter the Great, the current Russian ruler is vertically challenged.
The identification with Peter the Great is perhaps why Putin spent so much on the navy notwithstanding that Russia was never much of a seafaring nation. Peter the Great is seen as the father of the Russian Navy.
St Petersburg matters to Putin despite his ripping off the people of his native city. He trusts people from his home town. They are his inner circle.
It is pertinent that Putin is a man of slight stature. His height is a closely guarded secret. It has been estimated from 155 cm to 167 cm. But whatever his height is, it is below average for a Russian male; possibly far below average. Some men are not impacted by this just as being tall does not automatically make a male self-assured. Men who are well below average height sometimes suffer from a crushing sense of inadequacy. Occasionally one can read the psychology right away. He cannot be tall but he can be strong. He, therefore, strives to overcompensate for his lack of inches by bodybuilding and cultivating a macho swagger. That may be why Putin started to do judo and according to himself became a black belt. He may well have Napoleon Complex (Napoleon himself was not short but the name has stuck). The vastest country in the world is not enough for Putin to feel big enough. He is impelled to steal more land.
Putin was born in Leningrad (St Petersburg) in 1952. At that time Stalin was still alive. This is significant. It is as though Putin is the last Stalinist.
His parents were rather old when he was born. His father was a chef to the tsar and later Stalin. V V Putin’s father switched from working for the tsar to the communists without any difficulty. V V Putin was the same: he was willing to change ideologies without the least discomfiture. Like his father before him, he was a conformist. The origins of the Putin dynasty are shrouded in mystery. That is before V V Putin’s grandfather Spiron Putin there is no record of anyone with the surname Putin.
V V Putin’s parents had two sons who had died of malnutrition during the Siege of Leningrad. Putin grew up in a city that had suffered horrendously only a few years earlier. When Putin was born Josef Vissarionovich Stalin was the absolute ruler of the Soviet Union. Stalin was extremely suspicious of the city. There had been the Leningrad Opposition in the city in the 1920s. These were communists who did not approve of Stalin’s policies. They had been extirpated in the 1930s. After the Second World War, many were impressed at the hardihood and gallantry of the people of Leningrad during the extremely gruelling two-year siege. Stalin was covetous of the laud that accrued to some of the doyens of the city. He had them executed.
Putin grew up in a working-class family. He described their housing as ‘just awful’. There were severe shortages of everything. People had to get up very early in the morning to spend hours queueing for basic foodstuffs.
In the 1950s St Petersburg who was adulated? Who had access to the choicest dishes in abundance? There were special shops for the nomenklatura – high-ranking communist officials. The nomenklatura did not have to wait for a few stale crumbs to eat. They walked straight into their special shops where there were goods galore. They had the best clothes and footgear. They lived in comfortable homes and had access to white goods that the average Soviet citizen could only dream of fridges, telephones, televisions and dishwashers. They drove cars. Very few people there owned an automobile until the 1990s.
Communism was supposed to be egalitarian. But some were more equal than others as George Orwell said. Putin is actuated by a craving for status, recognition, power of life and death, the ability to oppress, intolerance, avarice and a desire to make Russia subjugate its neighbours.
Putin aspired to join the nomenklatura. They were the ones who were adulated. How could he get in? One had to, first of all, join the Communist Party (CP). This was only open to people who passed certain exams, attended meetings, paid a subscription and had been checked out by the KGB to verify they had no associations with suspects. Once in the CP one could only reach the nomenklatura by excelling in a career: this might be academic, military, artistic, technological or best of all in the intelligence services.
A person could be a full-time CP employee after some years. The CP was the only legal political party. As the USSR was totalitarian there was a total identification between party and state. The twain were coterminous.
Putin did not have the courage to succeed in the military. He has no artistic talent. He did not have the brains to be an academic, an engineer, an economist or suchlike. Therefore, it had to be the intelligence service: the KGB.
The new aristocracy was the KGB (Committee on State Security). The KGB was the USSR’s internal and external intelligence agency. It performed some of the same tasks as any intelligence agency: catching foreign spies in the USSR as well as going abroad to gather intelligence. However, the KGB was also tasked with oppressing the Soviet people. The Soviet Constitution conferred on people the rights that any free person would wish to have. These were the right to form other parties, free expression, freedom of conscience, the right to strike and so forth. But in practice, these were absolutely abrogated. The USSR was a one-party state. There was a legal catch-all against dissent: anti-Soviet agitation. Anyone who criticized the CP was found guilty of this crime at a farcical trial of a few minutes. There would be no defence counsel. Nor was there a jury or even a judge. KGB officers were the judges. The condemned was then awarded many years of slave labour in a camp. Many died there due to the appalling conditions. These political prisoners were often held incommunicado.
The KGB used torture promiscuously. The execution of suspected dissidents was still fairly common in the 1950s. Stalin was petrified that Jewish doctors were trying to poison him. He cooked up the doctors’ plot and had several Hebrew physicians shot on false accusations of attempting his assassination.
The KGB was enormous – the largest intelligence service in the world. It was a broad church. It had its thugs but it also had its gentlemen. Highly scholarly men and women who had accomplished absolute mastery of several foreign languages were in it. These KGB officers could be posted abroad under diplomatic cover. They were the only people who had the chance to live in Western countries. The KGB were able to bring back coveted foreign goods. They were permitted to read literature that was forbidden to ordinary Soviet citizens.
Putin grew up in an ambience where dissent was dangerous and was cruelly crushed. Conformity was lauded and was the only path to safety.
At school V V Putin did well. But he said he fell in with a bag crowd and was delinquent. He then befriended a man who was much older than him and had served time in a slave labour camp. This man introduced Putin to judo. This turned Putin’s life around. He became self-disciplined. He found camaraderie and a sense of direction that had previously been lacking in his life.
Putin had to join Komsomol (Communist Youth). It ran compulsory activities and sports. He was a committed member. It is questionable how much of it he really believes. He never thought of thinking for himself at all.
So much of what Putin does is about proving himself to be manly. He joined the judo club, he joined the KGB, he likes to be seen in military uniform despite never having been in the military, he kills those who insult him, he started the Second Chechen War, he invaded Georgia, he illegally occupied Moldova, he kills thousands of civilians in Syria and now he had invaded Ukraine.
As a teenager, Putin wrote to the KGB asking to join. They turned him down. They do not take volunteers. Someone who offered his services could be a double agent, a madman or the sort of excitable fantasist who sees a foreign spy on every street corner. The KGB advised Putin to go to university.
V V Putin attended Leningrad State University where he studied law. The USSR was extremely centralized. All the finest institutions were in Moscow. However, Leningrad's institutions were certainly estimable as the city was the second largest in the USSR.
At university Putin proved himself to be an ordinary undergraduate. He had no difficulty graduating but did not attain unusually good grades. Thereafter he joined the KGB.
Certain themes were to repeat in Putin’s life. This is not just about his desire to prove himself to be a real man. He joins the biggest gang of thugs around.
Putin’s department in the KGB was concerned with internal oppression. Religious dissenters, political dissidents, human rights activists and so on were to be arrested, tortured and sent to prison for decades. The KGB was deeply involved in the misuse of psychiatry. As the USSR was supposedly the proletarian paradise only a lunatic could disagree. Psychiatrists willfully misdiagnosed people as insane whom they knew to be in perfect mental health. Putting a political prisoner in a cell with several deeply disturbed people and injecting the prisoner with psychotropic drugs was often enough to make the person mentally ill.
In his late 20s, Putin met a woman named Ludmilla. She was an air hostess with Aeroflot and a little younger than him. She recalled how she would agree to meet him for a date at a metro station before going off to the theatre or a restaurant. This was long before mobile phones. He would be late. She was annoyed after 5 minutes, worried after 10 minutes and crying after 30 minutes. Why did she not go home? Putin is notable for his unconcern for others. He is callous, thoughtless and selfish. He likes to underscore his status by humiliating others.
Despite his appalling behaviour, Ludmilla wed him. They were blessed with two daughters. There is little evidence that he feels any deep attachment to them.
A tough man could join the KGB’s special forces. A technical type could join its technological department. An intellectual (especially a linguist) could be posted to a non-communist country. But Putin was mediocre and was only sent to East Germany.
Putin learnt German. Later he was posted to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). This was a Soviet satellite. But East Germany was the most prosperous country in the Eastern Bloc.
In 1989 Putin was shocked by how suddenly a seemingly robust communist regime collapsed. That is a spectre that haunts him to this day. His regime seemed to be rock solid a few years ago. He tends to overreact to lawful protest. He sees the hand of the CIA in well-nigh all. That is why he has piecemeal dismantled civil liberties in Russia.
In the 1990s Putin was back in St Petersburg. He was only employed by the FSB part-time. The FSB was the new KGB. He had to work part-time as a taxi driver. It was a humiliation for a middle-aged intelligence officer. This still rankles today. That is why he lusts for personal and national vengeance.
Despite the downfall of communism being bad for him, Putin publicly abjured Marxist Leninism.
Putin likes to suck up to the mighty. He became close to the first democratically mayor of St Petersburg. He was Mayor Sobchak’s, right-hand man. Putin was on the Foreign Relations Committee of St Petersburg. The city was very short of food in the early 1990s. He was part of barter deals. The city swapped oil for food from abroad. The food never turned up and Putin pocketed millions of dollars. Putin was happy to defraud and starve people from his home town that he claimed to love. The man has no common decency and no compassion. He is utterly dishonourable, shameless, cruel, selfish and avaricious.
In the mid-1990s Putin became Director of the FSB. He had no hesitation in accepting bribes and having his underlings act as hitmen. The FSB became part of the organized crime network. Putin became wealthy. He is keen to live in luxury as he grew up in what would now be seen as poverty.
Putin became PM in 1999 after 3 prime ministers were sacked in one year. Within weeks Putin had bombs set off in Russian apartment blocs to provoke the second Chechen War. He eased the alcoholic President Yeltsin into retirement. Putin was a virtual unknown.
In 2000 Putin had himself elected president. He gradually dismantled democracy. He began the murder of dissidents at home and abroad. He demanded payments from oligarchs. Putin may well be the richest person on earth. He has his money held in the names of his consigliere. He has many palaces. This is part of his vanity.
What does Putin want to accomplish? He has long been very overt about this. He said the dissolution of the USSR was the geopolitical calamity of the 20th century. One might have thought it was the Second World War or the First World War or any one of the genocides or famines that befell mankind. But according to Putin, it was the advent of democracy and human rights in his homeland that was utterly regrettable and reprehensible.
President Putin wants to recreate the USSR but not in the economic sense. He sees the USSR as the Russian Empire under another guise. He does not care a fig for communist ideology. He cares about Russian prestige. He wants the Russian language to be spoken in other former USSR countries and those countries to be ruled by Moscow insofar as possible. He has managed to illegally occupy some of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. In his own terms, he is a pitiful failure. Most erstwhile USSR nations choose not to join his military alliance the CSTO or his economic bloc the EAEU.
The Putin regime appeals to nostalgia for communism and the tsars. It is dead against the only two periods of freedom that Russia had: 1917 and the 1990s.
As president, Putin slowly brought back censorship. He made sure he was never ridiculed or criticized. He hates to be laughed at.
In the early 2000s, Putin saw an opportunity to curry favour with the United States after 9/11. He was able to say to George W Bush, ‘’you’re foes are my foes.’’ President Putin presented even secular Chechen independence fighters as Islamists.
V V Putin is very flexible about the means that he utilizes to attain his goals. He can be charismatic. He knows how to butter someone up. He wore a crucifix to win the trust of Bush. It worked! Addressing an audience in Texas, Putin told the Texans ‘’we in Russia have always known that Texas is the most important state in the USA.’’ Putin showed his supposedly softer side by regaling Westerns with the Chuck Berry number ‘blueberry hill.’ When meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin reminisced fondly about his time in East Germany where she grew up and addressed her in her native tongue.
V V Putin had to use diplomacy, winning Olympic medals through doping and soft power to try to achieve his goals in the first few years of his rule. Russia was not strong enough to try anything else. When he had built up the military and he saw Western nations were distracted with the Middle East he was able to attack Georgia.
By 2008 Russian oligarchs were spending so much in Western lands that Western countries were loath to confront Russia. Super-rich Russians owned homes in the USA, London, France, Spain, Cyprus, Switzerland, Prague, Germany and Italy. This spread Russian influence and Russian billionaires owned foreign football clubs.
The Putin regime likes to exploit democracy in foreign lands. It tries to pit different factions in others lands in deadly hate against each other. Russian troll farms disseminate disinformation. They like to undermine faith in democracy in the free world and spread bogus conspiracy theories.
In the early years of his presidency, Putin had to restore order to Russia. The federation was almost a failed state. He tamed the oligarchs. He also had to put the state on a sounder financial footing. In all this, he succeeded. V V Putin ensured that people were paid on time. Despite his many evil aspects, there were some genuine ameliorations for the average Russian under him in the early years. There is no doubt that he was truly popular back then.
Once the economy was growing Putin was able to beef up the military. There had been almost no military production or new purchases from 1990 to the early 2000s. His espionage operations around the world continued. Russia had deep penetration agents in the USA. In the 1990s when Russia was financially in the doldrums and even army officers were not paid for months on end, Russia still manage to give undercover intelligence officers in the USA thousands of dollars a month each. This was a very high priority even under Yeltsin.
Putin and his wife informally split in the early 2000s. The rumour leaked out. They formally divorced in 2010. Putin had a number of mistresses. He secretly wed the Olympic ice skater Alina Kabaeva. They have two little sons and one daughter born around 2015 and 2019. One was born in Switzerland and Miss Kabaeva did not put a father’s name on the birth certificate. V V Putin guards his privacy fiercely. He has pseudonyms for his daughters but they are both known. They both married men whom Putin then arranged to buy huge state companies for a fraction of their real value.
President Putin is a control freak. He is very bigoted and anti-gay. But is this masking closet homosexuality? His judo, his appearing bareback on horses and his fixation with manliness seem faintly homoerotic. Research proves that hardline homophones are usually repressed gays themselves.
There is a book about political leadership and mental health entitled In Sickness and Power by Lord David Owen. Lord Owen is a psychiatrist and was the British Foreign Secretary in the 1970s. His noble lordship examines the declension in the mental well-being of notable British politicians. Lord Owen says that political leaders undergo a decline in their sanity whilst office but this is not to a clinical level. There is a saying among Tory whips in the UK; ‘’No prime minister leaves Downing Street entirely sane.’’ There is empirical evidence that that is true.
Bear in mind that Putin grew up in a totalitarian system and over the past 23 years he has gradually rebuilt one, it is easy to perceive that he has undermined his own mental stability. It is hard to remain balanced when fed a daily diet of sycophancy. He has surrounded himself with a camarilla of yes-men and second-raters. Like most dictators, he does not tolerate rivals so he promotes dimwits noted for their canine fidelity. Putin must have experienced mental maladjustment due to all this.
There are persistent rumours that V V Putin is suffering from cancer and or Parkinson’s disease. His strange arm posture is said to be a symptom of latent Parkinson’s and he has had this for decades. President Putin had a coughing fit live on TV: this was the best they had to show us? Imagine what he is like off-camera. He has had a leg shaking uncontrollably on TV. Putin is never seen to walk a considerable distance these days. This is from a man who liked to show off his physical fitness. Even if he is terminally ill he could live for a decade with the best medical care. He is said to travel with an entourage of physicians. His face is puffier possibly due to treatment. His Easter Day appearance in 2022 had him wearing exactly the same outfit as at Easter 2021. He never does this. Presumably, this was recycled footage. Was he so ill that he missed the Easter Day ceremony in a cathedral.
The Russian President may well be an old man in a hurry. He wants to complete his legacy before he dies or is incapacitated.
Putin understands only force whether that be military force or economic blackmail. He likes to rule by fear. He will never do anything for any motive of honesty or moral decency.
The author is a political analyst from the UK. He can be watched on YouTube: George from Ireland