Putin, eh?
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I remember the first time I traveled to New York City. It was a Wednesday and I had missed a class to take a train to NYC and see a rock band Muse live. Having no idea how NYC subway system worked, I was a little confused as to which train to get on. Some kind stranger got off his train and helped me find my way. We talked a bit, and after we had exchange a couple of sentences, I found out that he hated the guts of NYC and wanted to get out. I asked him where he wanted to go; he said “anywhere, maybe Russia!.” That answer surprised me a lot; I wondered, what kind of hardship was he experiencing as to prefer moving to Russia over living in NYC, US? Well, I was going to a concert I was really pumped for and I did not ponder over the question too much. However, several other events and observations over the following several months have made me realize: - I was too naïve in assuming that pretty much everywhere knew what Russia and its supreme leader- Putin, stood for.

The truth is, many people, mostly those unaffected by the tentacles of the Soviet Union, heaviness of “the Iron Curtain” and the Russian influence, have no idea what Putin, the leader of the country that is as large as US and China combined, stands for. The Internet, where arguably everyone knows everything that has transpired in the last three thousand years and the two thousand to come, was even source for a bigger shock. “Putin the great leader;” The People’s Man”, “A true leader that doesn’t back down and stays true to his ideals.”

I come from a country that has been subjugated by first – Tsardom of Russia, second -the Soviet Union and finally, the Russian Federation, for nearly two hundred years. That’s nearly as long as the United States of America has been a country for. Not to mention anything about the havoc the Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union unleashed on my country, I have a very clear recollection of a war that happened just eight years ago. I remember Russian airplanes flying over my house and I remember the war, or “the peacekeeping operation” as Medvedev[1] called it, which we lost in less than a week. Every time Putin is called anything in the region of positive, I am deeply offended and take it very personally. First of all, those comments or remarks disregard everything the heroes of that very short war died for. Secondly, they disregard the millions of people who have fallen victim to the corrupt regime of Putin, both within and beyond the Russian Federation.

But, you may say, “Your hatred for that man and his regime is fuelled by where you come from; you are too subjective, why should I subscribe to that attitude?”

Well, let’s examine why.

Putin has been the leader of the Russian Federation since 2000. Yes, the leader of “a democratic country” for 16 years now.

You might say “Well, he’s good and people like him, what’s wrong with having a good leader for a longer period than US constitution currently allows?”

Putin’s approval rating is somewhere between 80-90% (FYI, the approval rating of the North Korean Supreme Leader is just a bit higher) Well, Putin (and his government) also owns media and does his very best to paint his actions in the best light. Hence, “the peacekeeping operations in Georgia”, and “the returning of Crimea, the part of Ukraine, to its rightful [whatever that means] owner.” To give you an idea of the information control – You cannot own an anonymous blog in Russia.

Maybe the Russians back him so much because of his internal policies?

For a citizen of a country that has 32% of world’s natural gas reserves, produces approximately 10% of the world’s oil and is very resource-rich, an average Russian is living very poorly. Google Russia and you’ll get some pretty pictures of Moscow and St.Petersburg, meaning that pretty much outside of those two mega-cities there is nothing to write home about. In terms of standard of living, Russia is around 55th in the world. Where does all that money go? Americans keep complaining how the divide between the top 0.0001(add in zeroes at your convenience) and the rest of the population is so high. Okay, now take that difference, multiply it by the year of your birth, raise it to the second power, throw in some zeroes and you might be close to the Russia’s level. In Russia, The gap between the rich and the poor is one of the highest in the world. With its 110 billionaires (who own, over 10 trillion in assets. FYI, that’s half of the GDP of the US.), oligarchs and Putin (Wealth unknown), the rest of the population can freely afford vodka.

Have you heard of KGB? Yeah, it’s now called FSB. The polonium-poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of FSB and Putin, is one of the few misdeeds of FSB. Another outspoken critic of Putin – Boris Nemtsov, a true leader of Russian opposition, was shot to death in the Red Square in the center of Moscow in 2015. You can read about Stalin’s Secret Police, the predecessor of KGB and FSB; you’ll get an idea about their field of operation. (Putin was actually a colonel at KGB, before he became the president.)

Russia is 105th in terms of its corruption rate. Translation: Russia is very corrupt. Ranging from law enforcement to education, the corruption is everywhere. If you don’t believe this, visit Russia; the next time you get pulled over by a cop, you’ll believe this.

There are virtually no human rights in Russia. You can read this Human Rights Watch report on the recent situation in every aspect of Human Rights in Russia (dated 2015).

I understand that, being faced with truly one of the most terrible election process, US has ever faced,you (Americans) are upset about many issues in your country; hell, even I'm upset. However, before you take all the blessings of your country for granted, and believe that Hillary Clinton’s emails or Trump’s leaked videos are a tragedy compared to what is happening under Putin’s rule, maybe you should think twice; Maybe, try just a little bit not to insult those of us who are well-aware and have been victimized by this man’s deeds.



[1] Also known as “Putin’s puppet”. The president of Russia during 2008-2012; elected mainly because he promised, “to appoint Putin as the Prime Minister.” Putin got re-elected in the very next election.

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