A Bit On Putin, Khodorkovsky and Geo-Politics
"We have a society based on lies, a society in which democracy is used only as a formal procedure, a society based on a completely closed nature and, most importantly, a society based on fear," --Irina Khakamada
Vladimir Putin refuse to debate his contenders for the Presidency of Russia on TV. Colin Powell while visiting
Russia spoke strongly about the validity of Russian elections and the development of independent political parties as well as candidates access to state owned media.
The Putin government has suppressed media freedom over the last 3 years.
The Russian Parlimentary elections were described as "falling short of democratic standards". Two of Mr Putin's rivals for the Presidency support him. Polls show Putin to be an 80% favorite, only a voter turnout of less than 50% could invalidate what looks to be a one man show. Irina Khakamada, is running against Putin with no hopes of winning. Although she calls Putin on his handling of the Dubrovka Theater incident that resulted in the death of 129 hostages, mostly due to a narcotic gas used to incapacitate the Chechen fighters that had seized the theatre and its show attending occupants. Ms Khakamada is thought by some to be a "plant" to lend an air of credibility to the March 14 election.
Among the things Powell spoke negatively about in the Russian press was the arrest of billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Advisor to the Carlyle Group and a man with connections to Halliburton, as well purportedly as the Russian KGB- and mob . Khodorkovsky supports Putin's Liberal opposition, such as Ms Khakamada's SPS, The Union of Rightist Forces.
Powell also spoke out about the Russian military presence in Georgia. The energy rich former Soviet Republic has been home to Russian military bases, the nation now feels it is time for the Russians to depart. Russian authorities say the pull-out will take 11 years, which is unacceptable to the Georgians. The US, who has had an 18 month military training and equipping agreement with the government of Georgia which has just become permanent, has offered to help the Russians relocate financially. The US is also "donating" 3 million dollars to pay the salaries of the 3 battalions of Georgian troops we've trained to fight Arab Al Qaeda operatives, guerrillas even the defense minister of Georgia believes are not there .
Training this year will be farmed out to a company called Cubic, which has seen 91% of it's contributions go to the Republican party. this election cycle. In the 2002 cycle all money was given to Republican causes, 2/3 to the Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committees. The 25,000 dollars was also contributed to the campaign of Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who is on a great many commitees. Private corporations have inundated the military.
Ted Stevens was the first recipient of the Open Russia Foundation's Leadership Award. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the companies founder.