By Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban state-owned press, the only legal press allowed, is focusing on its shoe-shining role, to polish up an expected election result, which bestows upon Russia’s new Tsar six more years in government to rule with an iron fist, according to his own strange way of understanding democracy.
Unfortunately, residents of this centuries-old Eurasian Empire are used to rule by decree. Abroad, the Russian alternative to the US brings some commendations.
Congratulatory messages published in Cuba praised Putin’s proficient management, alternating between his role as President and Prime Minister with Dmitry Medvedev, who is about to round off 24 years of almost absolute government: They only talk about Power, especially military power, suck-ups never satisfied with how many times it’s been said.
Bolivian president Evo Morales said: “Russia respects countries’ dignity and ensures a geopolitical balance and world peace in the face of Imperialist attacks.” There’s no need to comment on the enthusiastic missives written by other leaders as you only need to look at the kind of political systems that uphold them, for example, China, Venezuela, Iran, Kazakhstan, Syria and… Cuba.
Nobody doubts the fact that the Kremlin is the owner of the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in the world. The now-disappeared Soviet Union manufactured approximately 16,000 nuclear warheads, with the aim of being strategically equal, more or less.
In the face of being unable to deploy their weapons in an extraordinary way like the US government has through its system of alliances, maintained by an economic power that Moscow lacks, the first solution resulted in more warheads being manufactured that are propelled by long-range missiles.
Conquering Russia is an impossible task, but Russia exercising its power outside of its borders is a whole ‘nother story. There was a reason why Winston Churchill told Stalin the following when he visited the Soviet capital in the winter of 1942, which had been besieged by the Wehrmacht: “Russia is a land animal, the British are sea animals.”
Drawing attention to his innovative anti-missile defense system, a logical alternative in the face of Russia’s aforementioned limits, was another response that Putin skillfully employed before the recent elections. Having saved the Empire’s pride, having repressed national opposition and exploited an environmental disaster as the world’s largest producer of fossil fuels (Oil, Natural gas and Coal) to the brink of danger, the “victory” on March 18th was a done deal.
It’s curious, though, that high representatives of the new international Left, especially Latin American leaders, have been verified to hold this Vladimir “Ilyich” of the third millennium in high regard still. The picture they give us of him completely omits historic fact:
The Winter War that ended up with Russia taking control of 10% of Finland, including its second most important city, Viipuri, which was then rebaptized Vyborg (1940s). It was 1940 exactly when Stalin decided to annex three Baltic republics, an action that was never accepted by the international community. The treacherous division of Poland between the USSR and Germany at the beginning of World War 2 was worse still.
Remnants of enduring Russian Imperialist policy can still be seen today in the Ukraine. As if it were a piece of pie, Ukranian Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea to his birthland’s government and Caesar Putin recovered the severed part without so much as a second thought, taking advantage of the majority of Russian speakers that live in the strategic peninsula on the Black Sea.
Who can guarantee that the world’s second largest military power’s intentions are good? Russia and China are putting up a front against US dominance, while the US and China are putting the brakes on an emerging power’s excesses who has made a come-back armed to the teeth, not forgetting that China invaded Vietnam, then occupied Tibet, the US and Russia are trying to stop Beijing’s own appetite.
However, the greatest thing being forgotten relating to the Russian picture today remains, when journalist Rodolfo Bueno signed the following apologetic summary in Granma, the printed daily paper for Cuban Communists, on March 19th:
“The heart of Putin’s success involves being the standard bearer of Russian ideology, which restores the highest national, moral, religious, cultural, artistic and philosophical values that have always been the foundation of Russian civilization.”
The profusion of Russian contributions, the Slavic world on the whole, to universal culture is the cause of much admiration, but as a message published for Cubans, here are some telling figures:
Forbes reported (in 2015) that out of the 1,426 billionaires recognized worldwide, 442 are from the United States, China 122 and Russia came in third place with 110.
One of these new wealthy men, Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club and personal friend of Yeltsin and Putin, didn’t have so much as a Kopek in 1991 when the USSR collapsed. Today, his fortune amounts to over 8,000 million USD, a lot more than the much-mentioned riches of Donald J. Trump.
Rigged elections, as well as disqualifying possible rivals from running as part of a well-executed repressive campaign, at least the Russian people voted for one out of several candidates for the highest office in their country.
Which Russia are we going to stick with? The one that has 16,000 nuclear warheads or the one of the Chelsea Football Club owner?
Vicente Morin Aguado [email protected]