Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Even When Not News, President Putin Is The Story Every Day

     The New York Times headline – For Putin, Report Says, State Perks Pile High, By ANDREW E. KRAMER, notes what everyone knows. Even the emperor’s old clothes are well paid for. MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin is rumored to be among the world’s wealthiest men with an oil-fed fortune worth tens of billions of dollars he vehemently denies, but a report to be published Tuesday suggests the dispute may be beside the point.
     President Vladimir V. Putin may be wealthy, but the trappings of his office are even richer, a Times caption accuses.
     The report is sarcastically titled “The Life of a Galley Slave” after the president’s own description of his tenure in office. Russian opposition leaders describe what they call an extraordinary expansion of presidential perks during the 12 years since the start of Mr. Putin’s first term as president — palaces, a fleet of jets and droves of luxury cars. While one can agree with Vladimir, that’s a lot of jobs that don’t really involve that much of his time till his pampered life floats over whichever perk awaits his convenience.
     So complaints over which President Putin doesn’t really have that much time to spend include, the 20 residences available to the Russian president such as Constantine Palace, a Czarist-era estate on the Gulf of Finland restored at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. A ski lodge in the Caucasus Mountains and a Gothic revival palace in the Moscow region. The president also has at his disposal 15 helicopters, 4 spacious yachts and 43 aircraft, including the main presidential jet, an Ilyushin whose interior is furnished with gold inlay by artisans from the city of Sergiyev Posad, an Airbus and a Dassault Falcon. The 43 aircraft alone are worth an estimated $1 billion, the report says. More jobs, more jobs, more jobs, what’s the beef? There’s less left for everyone else to show off with? Because that’s what happens. Kings replace kings. Is there really a way around that?
     So The Times authors pin the prize, printing, – This, the authors note, “in a country where many people hardly make ends meet.”
     Then The Times becomes more expansive concluding – The report is cast in the genre of the fashion sleuthing that recently revealed designer clothing on the wife of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Cute couple, is it true The Times is egging the world’s elite into looking at themselves through the crosshairs and deciding how not to be a target anymore. Probably not, maybe.
     The Times states – The authors, Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who has been jailed a number of times on various pretexts, and Leonid Martynyuk, a member of the Solidarity movement, present enlarged photographs of the Russian leader’s wrist during meetings and public appearances, revealing a variety of expensive watches, 11 in all, worth $687,000 at retail — about six times Mr. Putin’s annual salary.
     Remember when Mrs. Gorbachev was criticized for flamboyant displays of wealth? Maybe this time this could let ride in her memory, President Putin. I want you to keep all your toys.
     The Times reporter, ANDREW E. KRAMER, writes, “His lifestyle,” the authors conclude, “can be compared to that of a Persian Gulf monarch or a flamboyant oligarch.” BUT – The report does not dwell on the question of Mr. Putin’s personal wealth, but suggests that it may not be as enormous as many have suggested. The reason he “maniacally clings to power,” the report says, is the “atmosphere of wealth and luxury he has become accustomed to, and categorically does not want to part with.”
     They’re kidding? A President’s ego could lead into enlightened statesmanship, not guardianship over a kingdom’s keys. Yet, the odds Mr. Putin pulls every string is minimal. A lot more people than him are involved, and look how long it’s taken commercial America to get even this far toward everyone having a taste?
     The Times prints – In response to a written query, the Kremlin’s press office said Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, was on vacation and unable to respond to the substance of the report. Not enough bucks for a cell phone, huh? Really like the old days waiting for a grand statement intended to fool the world. It’s just money I hope finds a happy home in general circulation when Mr. Putin really gets down to spreading it around. So think where else would he have so many bodyguards to provide for and feed? The is no other position that warrants his time.
     Geez. If this were Monopoly, the game would be over. Everyone could go home because we’re done. Vladimir won. Call me tomorrow if you’ve found another game where the point is you just get to win. Yes, Vladimir, you represent a team. A portion of successful Russian Society dedicated to never losing so you’ll never quit. But it’s time for your legacy to kick in, isn’t it? Unless you’re just a tool, not a real king?
     In a response reported by Kommersant, however, Mr. Peskov said the residences, aircraft and cars were government property used lawfully by the president. An obviousness admission that leads to more subtly serious satire by The Times. – In fairness, Mr. Putin’s delight in the watches has not been entirely selfish, twice removing a wristwatch for a bystander. The recipients, a boy and a laborer, received Blancpain watches that Mr. Nemtsov estimated to cost more than $9,000 apiece. While John D. Rockefeller, the American tycoon/philanthropist, just gave away dimes to the kids and adults. Look how far things have gotten if Vladimir can give so much away? Or so completely tragic inflation appears to have done us in after all.
     The Times continues to pick on the poor president, citing that – Mr. Putin has never apologized for, at the very least, enjoying the trappings of office. In 2008, the Russian Information Agency reported, Vladimir said, “I’m not ashamed before the citizens who voted for me twice. All these eight years I toiled like a galley slave, from morning until evening.”
     Yeah, we’re all working hard on your side Mr. President. If not for that satisfaction at the end of a day for a job well done, a man in your position just wouldn’t know how to survive without access to all the known spiritual fulfillment the world has to offer. Yes, an incredible load Russian people want to help you carry.
     But sadly this Opposition Photo-Op combined with this coverage Russian Activists Criticize 8-Year Drug Sentence in the same day Times, by DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, leans hard on the hope the new day in Russian social justice is dawning. So remember, when the points are all that’s left to count in your legacy, Mr. President, remember what Stalin is remembered for. Answering there was nothing he could about anything because it was someone else’s job. Scapegoat what your real problems are with democracy, then that’s where we are, no one willing to take the blame or they’ll lose their job. Which dude, Mr. President, you should be above now, not just claiming objectivity.
Even When Not News, President Putin Is The Story

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