From the boy who got into fights over trifles, to the KGB secret agent who never lost his temper, from the washed-out blond who looked like a puppet of post-Soviet power to the president who plays (and often wins) on the international chessboard. Portrait of a leader who continues to amaze
In Ukraine there was another crisis and another Russian invasion, eight years ago. We had forgotten about it. Yet, that time, the pieces on the chessboard and the related problems were similar, if not identical, to those of today. The question is that the West (there were Obama, Hollande, Renzi) does not seem to have learned anything. While Putin perhaps took into account that lesson of weakness, perhaps trusting it (we hope) too much. So we have reconstructed what happened then with the system, however, of showing how the autocrat's ambitions and thinking developed. Putting him under observation, that is, from the first day, from the moment of that chess game in which his grandfather, refusing checkmate, had explained to him: «Rules don't exist. A politician makes the rules himself.'Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Silvio Berlusconi's house: the gag is unmissable Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Silvio Berlusconi's house: the gag is unmissable
Siridon Ivanovich Putin (1875-1965)
Cook. Rasputin (the hated privy councilor of the tsars Romanov ), entered his restaurant in the center of St. Petersburg, ordered him a cabbage soup ( sci ), then he wanted a second, then a third. Finally he asked to meet the cook, and when he found him in front of him he asked who was his boss. The cook replied «Putin», since he had, in fact, no master (serfdom in Russia had been abolished by Tsar Alexander I in 1861). Rasputin he stood up: «Bravo Putin, I bless you for the glory of God our Lord and Russia our homeland! Go with God, my son» • Soldier in the First World War, then active in the 1917 revolution, finally hired by Lenin and, on their death, from Stalin . Married to Olga • Retired in the woods of the city of Ilinsk, he taught his grandson the game of chess. This little nephew then recounted that, having given him checkmate, Spiridon continued to play as if the game hadn't ended and, to the remonstrances of the child who demanded respect for the rules, he explained: «But a true politician makes the rules himself ».
Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin (1911-1998)
One of six children of Spiridon Putin and Olga Putina. Enlisted in a secret naval base, in 1940 he heard on the radio the speech in which Stalin , calling the Russians 'brothers and sisters', exhorted them to defend their homeland from the Nazi attack, and he volunteered. Wounded in the legs by a bomb in the winter of 1942, during an action on the left bank of the Neva, Pyatachok locality. Then discharged at the end of the war and hired as a skilled worker in the Egorov workshops (railway equipment) • Married since 1932 to Maria Ivanovna Shelomova, according to legend descending from the tsar Peter the Great , now employed as a night keeper or porter at the general markets of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), then employed at the naval command of Smol'nyi. “A beautiful person, kind and selfless. I don't know if he had finished the first five grades of the school. Certainly she had always worked hard » (testimony of Vera Dmitrievna Gurevich, teacher in elementary school number 193) • she Forced her husband, a registered communist and indeed local party leader, to marry in church • First child born prematurely. Second son, Viktor, died of starvation at nine • They live in Leningrad, 12 Baskov Alley, a few blocks from Nevsky Prospekt. Fifth floor without lift, 20 square meter room at the end of a dark corridor, 20 people live in the apartment, shared bathroom and kitchen. All internal windows, when you go down into the courtyard and look at the piece of sky above, it seems as if you have fallen into a well. Greyness • On 7 October 1952 – Maria being 41 years old – a third child was born, who was named after his father, Vladimir. That is, it is the then famous Vladimir Vladimirovic Putin , called by friends Volodia and mother Vova.
Putin's longtime comrade. “We were all hooligans. Dirty, ugly mugs with unshaven beards, cigarettes and cheap bottles of wine. Always drinking, fighting, swearing. And in the midst of all this was also Volodia. If someone insulted him in any way, Volodia jumped on him, scratched him, tore his hair, bit him, he didn't allow him to be insulted or teased» • Skinny, little guy, not afraid to fight with the older boys • Famous hunter of mice • Rebells against the technical laboratory teacher, and is expelled from the Young Pioneers, the organization of Communist Party (Pcus) which included children under the age of 14. Unlike all the others, he cannot wear the red handkerchief on which Lenin's face is printed around his neck. Adult Putin: 'I wasn't a pioneer at all, I was a scoundrel.'
Anatoly Rakhlin (1938-2013)
Judo and sambo teacher • The little boy Putin, about 13 years old, has settled down, he's doing well at school, they reinstate him among the pioneers, they elect him president of his class. His parents give him a watch, which Putin immediately puts on his right wrist (although they are not left-handed, he usually wears his watch on his right wrist, imitated in this by crowds of bureaucrats).
However, he never wore the left-handed Kremlin brand watch that was given to him by a large company in Tatarstan, preferring as a rule, as can be seen from many photos, a 60,000 dollar Sinik Patek Philippe in white gold or, at least up to to 2005, a Calatrava for 18,000 dollars • He keeps the urge to beat his hands under control, and enrolls in a boxing gym where they break his nose ('very painful'). He lets it go, and introduces himself to Rakhlin , who trains him first of all in the so-called 'sambo', contraction of samooborona bez orujiya (“defense without weapons”), a type of fight a little judo, a little ju-jitsu, a little boxing, a little karate, invented by three Russian instructors (Oshepkov, Spiridonov and Halrampiev) and intended above all for physical preparation of the military. After sambo comes judo, in which – thin and agile as it is – he excels • A whole philosophy of judo, making strength on the opponent's weak points, etc. Putin exalts its educational value.
«On the tatami you have to greet your opponent with a bow, there is no room for base feelings. Even today I am friends with the people with whom I trained» • Among the people with whom he trained: Arkadij Romanovich Rotenberg (see below), later construction boss and banker, builder of the bridge between Russia and Crimea, qualified in 2021 by Forbes as the richest man in Russia. Putin, as a rule, knocked out both he and his brother Boris • According to TV Dozhd, thanks to judo Putin and Rotenberg earned some money in the 70s by acting as stunt doubles in some Soviet patriotic films • Putin, according to witnesses, is implacable on the tatami • Today, sixth dan judo master, he is the protagonist of the didactic film Let's learn judo with Vladimir Putin (throwing through the back from the knees, throwing by grabbing the arm under the shoulder, hooking the leg from the inside, etc.). Manual author Learn judo with Putin (Mondadori, 2001). Prima di distribute it in bookstore, Silvio Berlusconi (see further on) gives him a special edition titled Judo is life • In one of the photos of VVP 2019 Calendar you see the Japanese premier Shinzo Abe while watching him fight (in other images of the Calendar they are close to him Donald Trump , Emmanuel Macron , Angela Merkel , there is one in which he drives a limousine with the Egyptian president on board Abdel Fattah al-Sisi , in another joke with the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman , all to refute Russia's alleged international isolation • There is also a 2005 DVD in which he appears to be struggling with the Olympic champion Yasuhiro Yamashita . In another video, from 2019, the twenty-nine-year-old judoka can be seen Natalia Kuziutina , of the Russian national martial arts team, who knocks him to the ground (the Olympic champion Beslan Mudranov first he lets himself be a little overwrought, and in the end he breaks his finger) • «Putin moves well on the tatami, but I've seen him perform with socks, a blasphemy for any self-respecting judoka» ( Silvio of France , national judo team, 1970s).
Vadim Mikhailovich Kozhevnikov (1909-1984)
Writer. Author of the novel I shield and sword , which tells of a secret agent who infiltrates the Nazis in the 1930s. Half-true story, inspired by the agent Aleksandr Svyatogorov , formidable for the phlegm with which he faced the most risky operations. Even a TV miniseries comes out of it • The young Putin, aged 16, who until then had in mind to become an aviator, is seduced by the spy with frozen nerves, changes his mind and decides that he too etcetera etcetera. He then shows up at number 4 of Liteyny Prospekt, i.e. the Leningrad headquarters of the KGB, a huge, square, white building built by Stalin in 1931, nicknamed Bolshoi Dom (“Big House”). He explains to the guy who stops him at the door that he wants to be drafted. That explains to him that the Kgb he does not accept applications for registration, but he himself looks for the personnel he needs. So what?, asks the boy. So, replies the other, you have to wait for us to come looking for you. And in the meantime? Meanwhile, study, go to university. I study what? Well, for example Law, the most suitable degree for this profession, and in the meantime the man writes down the young man's name, surname and address from an identity document.
Man of the Kgb , of which it is known only that he enlisted Vladimir Putin . Putin, after the meeting at the Bolshoj Dom, had effectively applied to the Faculty of Law in Leningrad, where, on average, one candidate out of 40 was admitted. And yet they had accepted him, and his studies were going well, the young man, being sporty, he also had ease with foreign languages, he joined the pcus , he didn't drink alcohol (not even vodka), he didn't play cards, there was no news of him frequenting 'easy' women and he wasn't even engaged (nothing Kgb , if you were already married), in the small family dacha in Tosno he looked after the garden, cut the wood and carried the water, which the dacha did not have. A very good son, serious, poised, patriot. In the summer of 1973 he had also participated in a military training camp. He was already in his third year of college when a call came in from a guy who, without qualifying, gave him a first date in college, and on this first date, still without qualifying, he started asking questions. It was the foretold Ganzerov , who wanted to see him, always at the university, several other times, without ceasing to question him. According to the writer and biographer Nicolai Lilin , in this phase of the study the candidates for services were also subjected to sudden tests of moral or physical resistance, for example they were taken to a restaurant, made to drink and then made to drive a car. Or, after having summoned them to a hotel room, they were made to find a naked woman lying on the bed, and, if things proceeded, at a certain point a presumed husband would burst into the room, etc. etc. Lilin can't tell if young Putin was also tested in this way. In any case, after a year of meetings and investigations, they took him.
The news relating to Putin's youth comes from Putin himself, who is often pleased to tell about his family and formative years. We have drawn them, among other things, from the most recent biographies and that is, in order of appearance: Demetrio Volcic , The Little Tsar, Laterza 2008; Masha Gessen, Putin. the faceless man, Bompiani 2012; Gennaro Sangiuliano, Putin. Life of a Tsar, Mondadori 2015; Oliver Stone, Oliver Stone interviews Putin, Marsilio 2017; Nicolai Lilin, Putin. The last tsar, Piemme 2020.
Ljudmila Aleksandrovna Shkrebneva (1958)
Turner worker at the Torgmash factory in Kaliningrad, later Aeroflot stewardess. She rejected from the Leningrad Theater and Drama School, although pretty, blue-eyed, blond. She landed in Leningrad, with three days of rest available, she decides to stay in the city and have fun.
There is another hostess with her, she has a friend who promises tickets to the Music Hall, where the comedian performs Arkady Rajkin , «And how did you get them? It was sold out!», «A policeman friend of mine has them, let's meet the four of us on the Prospect». They meet on the Prospect, but the policeman doesn't arrive, wait wait, more than an hour passes before he appears. Nothing special, a blond, short, skinny, taciturn, jacket tie and dark suit, that is, no Western extravagance, just see that he's French. After the show they go to the restaurant and the policeman doesn't even drink, he puts the glass to his lips and then puts it down. Lyudmila, not at all impressed at first, later said she was taken by the fact that the guy had a good talk, self-confident, cultured, no lewd looks, none of the stupidity typical of males when they find themselves in front of a blonde with blue eyes.
They also see each other the day after, and the day after that, and at the moment of departure Putin gives her a note with his telephone number, which the other friend considers very strange, since the future Tsar of Russia is a very reserved person in principle. And yet… The two continue to see each other every time the Aeroflot flight lands in Leningrad and, apart from the fact that he always arrives with spectacular delays, it is clearly serious. There are also jealousy scenes, rings and all, until she moves to Leningrad, he finds her a small accommodation and a job as a computer operator for the equivalent of 140 euros a month.
They ski together, they go swimming together Sochi . Finally, three and a half years after the evening at the Music Hall, they get married and go to live in the house that in the meantime the Municipality has assigned to their parents in Prospekt Stacek, Avtovo district, 12 square meters for the newlyweds, 15 square meters for mum and dad , including balcony. They remain there until mid-1985, when the leaders of the Kgb transfer Putin, meanwhile promoted major, to Dresden , and set it up at 101 Radebergerstrasse, two rooms not to be shared with anyone, a large courtyard, the Elbe river one step away, across the street the park where you can take the children to play. Putin and Lyudmila in fact, they have two daughters and Putin himself, whenever he can, accompanies them to kindergarten. Maria , born when they still lived in Leningrad, Ekaterina , which came into the world in Dresden.
Michail Sergeevic Gorbaciov (1931)
Died Brezhnev , died Andropov , died Cernenko , in 1985 he became secretary of the Communist Party the celebrated Gorbachev . The Ten Years' War Afghanistan , the need to maintain the parasites of the huge network of satellite states, the indolence that the ubiquitous state has injected into Russians, the gross errors in economic development have emptied the coffers of the country, and Gorbachev, charming the world with words perestrojka and volume , is forced to disassemble the old one Soviet Union and prepare himself and his family for the most mysterious new times. For Putin, at first, this means dealing with Hans Modrow , head of the Unified Socialist Party of Communist Germany, judged in Moscow as the new man to whom to entrust the country 'later'.
Wasted time, actually. The hypothesis of somehow making the Communist Party proves illusory, tens of thousands of Russians – and East Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, Romanians, Bulgarians – take to the streets, the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989), and since the headquarters of the Stasi (the secret services of communist Germany), the men of the Kgb wherever they are, they hurry to destroy all their files (Putin: «We burned so much stuff that in the end the stove melted»). Putin himself, when in Dresden the crowd besieged the headquarters of the Kgb in Angelikastrasse, he goes out into the street and with the calmness learned from the hero de I shield and sword resists the pressure of the demonstrators, who want to know what is being done in that mysterious place, and 'surely you keep people prisoner in the basement', and 'why, if you are Russian, do you speak German so well?'. «No prisoners», «We are military», «I am an interpreter», «This is not German territory, but Russian and you cannot enter».
Time is lost until a military detachment arrives, which disperses the crowd. Bad times, it's clear that it's useless to stay here and you have to go home. What remains of the headquarters of the Kgb in Moscow he agrees, and so Putin - who is now a lieutenant colonel - loads his wife, daughters and household goods onto the old Volga, and - together with another million Soviet soldiers who in those days do the same thing in Vietnam, in Angola , in Mozambique, in Cuba and in the rest of the world - he leaves. Among the household goods there is also the washing machine, which would be impossible to buy back in Russia.
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin (1931-2007)
A Siberian from Sverdlovsk, he came to Moscow to be a politician of the new times, he denounced everything - thefts, inefficiencies - and in the end, in May 1990, he was elected president of the protection of Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic. The official candidate of the pcus , Ivan Kuzmich Polozkov , is beaten. However, there is also a president of the ussr , and it is indeed about Gorbachev . That is, a president of Russia and a president of the USSR live together in the same place, with the problem that the president of Russia, that is, this Siberian Yeltsin, was confirmed president in 1991 with a referendum. Therefore, it is necessary for the two to come to an agreement, and a three-way meeting is organised, also taking part is the Kazakh Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is staying with Yeltsin. We agreed on the removal of all conservatives, and in the end Gorbachev, exhausted, left for his dacha in the Crimea, in Foros. But while he was away, the conservatives of the CPSU - that is to say above all the generals - attempted a coup which Yeltsin opposed in full force, gathering the crowd in defense of Parliament and haranguing them on top of a tank. Sensational photos, which went around the world, consecrate him as the real new man of the new Russia, open to the market and to the West and an enemy of communism. Even the soldiers are persuaded, who remain stationary in the barracks and fail the plans of the coup plotters. On November 6 of that year the pcus is dissolved by decree.
Boris Abramovich Berezovskij (1946-2013)
Mathematical. Then entrepreneur. Publisher. Oligarch • Definition of oligarch given by Putin: «An exponent of big business who seeks to influence political decisions while remaining in the shadows». According to the etymology: small group that commands. With regard to the 1990s in Russia, oligarchs are defined as those who, having found themselves in the top positions of some state company and the state having dissolved, began to treat the public company they headed as if it were their own thing. selling off their assets and keeping the money for themselves. Gigantic looting, in which, in addition to the Russian oligarchs in the role of sellers, also the banks of the whole world took part, and in particular the Americans of the Monetary Fund. Yeltsin , president of the Republic then confirmed in 1996 thanks to the money of Berezovsky , participated in the banquet without problems, had placed daughters and sons-in-law where they were to be placed, especially the daughter Tatiana he proposed and disposed according to his taste, hired this one and fired that other one. The enormous mass of money arriving from abroad ended up in the pockets of these oligarchs, leaving the shelves of empty shops and widespread misery much more than in the days of communism.
Then there was the invention of vouchers, a masterful robbery conceived by Yeltsin himself and his economist, the very clever Egor Gajdar . The two divided the public assets into bonds, or voucher , to give to the people, so that it could be said: the country's riches really went to the people, we made one of those revolutions that the communists dream of. These vouchers were sent to the citizens, each worth about 10,000 nominal euros today, only that inflation was running at almost 90 percent, and it wasn't even clear how, and where, each Russian could withdraw his share of public assets, so that the poor unsuspecting citizens began to sell those incomprehensible pieces of paper, and since there was inflation and they were all selling, the real value of each voucher was soon reduced to a few kopecks, and the oligarchs - also financed by the Monetary Fund and from western banks – they naturally bought everything outright and easily found themselves owners of everything that had been built in the seventy years of communism, television networks and newspapers, mines, ships, oil wells and so on.
It was 1992, and in this way very powerful cliques had formed - let's even say clans - who took care to make whoever wouldn't bother, who wouldn't put obstacles in the way of that never-before-seen abundance become president or prime minister or mayor. Before. Putin recounts today that, having just returned to Leningrad from Dresden, having resigned from Kgb – an institution that, as he had known it, seemed to him out of time – he was worried for his own survival. 'I'm going to be a taxi driver, I'm going to be a judo coach.' In fact, in the years of Kgb he had gained a reputation as an obedient man, dutiful, a great worker, a good administrator, capable, patient and humble.
The mayor of Leningrad therefore thought of him when it came to finding a head for the International Affairs Committee. Putin , once in office, protesting the empty shelves of the shops, asked the government to give him 750,000 cubic meters of timber, 150 tons of petroleum products, 30,000 tons of non-ferrous metal bars, 14 tons of rare metals (tantalum, niobium , gadolinium, cerium, zirconium, yttrium, scandium, ytterbium), one thousand tons of aluminum, one ton of copper, 20 tons of cement, one ton of ammonium, 120 thousand tons of cotton fiber. He sold this mass of stuff abroad and collected 124 million dollars, with which he bought 83,000 tons of frozen meat, 11,000 tons of butter, 3 tons of powdered milk, 0.4 tons of baby food, 4 .5 tons of vegetable butter, 58 tons of sugar, 2 tons of garlic, 3.5 tons of citrus fruits, 8 tons of cocoa. He says he spent 122 million in all. Trade took place through a myriad of companies born on the spot, owned by illustrious strangers or whose shareholding was impossible to reconstruct since they were anonymous trusts located abroad. In order to be able to act, these companies had to pay for licenses, which yielded the equivalent of 190 billion lire, and which should have ended up in the municipal coffers.
Other deals, achieved as a mediator between entrepreneurs and inefficient bureaucracy: sale of a building to Procter&Gamble in exchange for 1% on the sale of soaps and toothpastes, licenses for kiosks in public squares and parks, the creation of free zones, for example at Pulkovo airport, where they rushed, among others, Coke , Gillette and Wrigley (there was half a billion dollars on the table), installation of optical fibers and telephone cables, a public company which controlled the casinos with 51%, gold bridges at the Dresden Bank who came to St. Petersburg – as Leningrad was called again – to finance building projects and had relied on Matthias Warnig , old friend of Stasi , also just released (year 1989) from the East German services. Promoted to deputy mayor, here is Putin governing the Transport Infrastructure Agency, that is, it was a question of starting the construction of subways, tram lines, roads; then join the cooperative Ozero which proposed to allocate the east coast of the Komsomolskoye lake. Etc. All this bustle showed that the man was reliable, that he and the oligarchs spoke the same language, to the point that the government, certainly in agreement with the rich, called him at one point to govern the secret services, which they were no longer called Kgb , and Fsb . Through them he hoped that the young new boss would be able to put an end to the impressive sequence of attacks that had devastated the cities.
It was at this point that he showed up Berezovsky . There were two problems. First problem: the Moscow Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov he was investigating the robberies of the oligarchs and it was known that he had collected a large quantity of documents, with which he was preparing to strike a great blow. Second problem: the president Yeltsin he was drunk from morning to night, he performed shameless scenes that were broadcast on televisions all over the world. His family, especially his daughter Tatiana they were hated.
He was sure that whoever presented himself in the elections on his behalf would be beaten by the prime minister's line-up Evgenij Primakov , a nostalgic Soviet of the pcus and who, if elected, would surely demolish the newly built pillars of the free market. Berezovsky and Putin chatted indoors in elevators or in the middle of parks or strolling along rivers, the Russian nomenklatura not having lost the old Soviet habit of placing fleas everywhere. In any case: Vladimir Putin , as head of the security services Fsb , very soon produced a video in which someone resembling the prosecutor was seen Skuratov who did all sorts of filth with two probably underage girls. Video immediately broadcast by Canale Uno, Berezoskij's TV. Skuratov, who stood in the communist team Primakov he immediately said, 'That's not me!' But the head of the security services Vladimir Putin produced expert reports which confirmed: the pig in the video was really him. Skuratov resigned, the successor took over his investigations and archived them.
As to the problem Yeltsin : search here, search there, among all those theoretically available, there was not a convincing candidate who could in no way be traced back to Yeltsin and who had nothing to reproach for, who could please the Russians and relieve them of depression into which, due to misery, they had fallen.
When cornered, the hypothesis ended up being taken into consideration Putin , modest Vladimir, blond Vladimir, always obedient, always ready to do as he was told. It is evidently a question, they thought, of a puppet, to be placed in the right place and to be moved as we say. The oligarchs told Yeltsin about this, Yeltsin he asked that at least his safety be guaranteed, that he be left to die in his bed. And so, on July 12, 1999, Berezovsky , whose yacht was cruising off the Côte d'Azur, reached Putin in Biarritz, Hotel du Palais, with a great view of the Atlantic, and informed him that the various clans had agreed on his name.
“What does Yeltsin say?”
'He asked me to come and tell you.'
'No one knows me.'
'You will be elected one hundred per cent.'
Berezovsky, in addition to various industries and a bank, owned three newspapers and the already mentioned TV network, Canale Uno. He knew how to pump up the candidacy. He hired three journalists and tasked them with drafting an intriguing biography of the candidate. He had pages prepared in the newspapers and celebratory services on TV. The candidate's few appearances on the small screen were convincing: the man conveyed to voters the same feeling of seriousness, sobriety, modesty that had convinced the oligarchs. Voting took place on March 26, 2000, Putin he was elected president of the Russian Federation with almost 53% of the vote and there was no need to go to the ballot. It is the same position he still holds today. The dreaded Primakov didn't even show up.
Sergey Leonidovich Dorenko (1959-2019)
Journalist. Very aggressive. Under the Channel One of Berezovsky . Before the elections he had strongly supported the new man Putin, ridiculed the mayor of Moscow, thoroughly attacked the Soviet Primakov . All according to Berezovsky's directives. At the end of August 2000, i.e. a year later, being Putin been elected a few months ago, suddenly went into full swing against the president, taking his cue from the tragedy of the nuclear submarine Kursk , sunk in Mare di Barents during an exercise due to the explosion of a defective missile. The Russian navy was not equipped to rescue the shipwrecked at a depth of 108 meters, and also rejected the offer of help from the British and Norwegians who instead had the right equipment: the Russians preferred that people from outside not get involved. Eight days went by, the tragedy occupied the openings of the television news all over the world, and in the end the general staff had resigned themselves to the Anglo-Norwegian intervention.
The bathyscaphe LR5 was flown to the scene, the British and Norwegian divers went down, opened the tailgate, and it was all flooded, and the 118 sailors were all dead. Dorenko went wild: the government lied, an inexperienced crew was taken on board, men thrown together from different ships, some of the practice torpedoes were out of date and corroded, carelessness etc etc. A mother appeared: «My son, before leaving, told me: death comes on board with us». Then she showed up Putin , laughing and tanned under the umbrella of Yalta, where he was on vacation. Dorenko , that is, he pushed viewers to think: «Those died in the dark and cold at the bottom of the sea, and this one here meanwhile was having fun». The sequence filmed in the port of Vidjajevo, where the president had met his relatives, was also broadcast.
Relatives had attacked him, he had barely defended himself, then he had been seen cursing the cameras that were filming him. From the point of view of communication, a disaster. He was summoned Berezovsky , and Putin was screaming, his eyes popping out. No one up to that moment could have imagined that the modest guy, the meek and obedient clerk, the blond who always said yes before the elections could turn into that rabid dog, a kind of toothy shark shouting: 'Now you deliver the shares of the network to me, you deliver them to me on the spot, in this very room!». Berezovsky: «But not even in the slightest» and meanwhile he thought to himself: what a mistake!, and we believed that she would have been a puppet in our hands.
Out of the office, Berezovsky he gathered his things and set out for France. From here, he went straight to London and asked for political asylum (immediately granted). Putin, after having confiscated the property of the three federal television stations, pursued him for years with arrest warrants of all kinds. Berezovsky answered him with bombshell interviews in which he shouted that the Great Deception had been staged in Moscow, that the Americans, the British, the Europeans should hurry up to understand it. In 2013, he was found hanged in his bathroom at Ascot.
Mikhail Borisovich Terentyev (1970)
Paralympic champion in biathlon and cross-country skiing. Member of Parliament. Secretary General of the Russian Committee for the Paralympics • No one believed in the Putin Putin of old. Both in the world and at home, it was by now understood that he was instead dealing with a strong man, an autocrat not at all open to criticism, distrustful, vindictive and with this idea in mind: to restore to Russia the ancient role of great power , that of the tsarist era and the Soviet era. The new flag of the country was white, blue and red with horizontal stripes, the one wanted by Peter the great , just without the eagle in the middle. Of Peter the Great, Putin had kept in his office, directly above his head, a reproduction of the large portrait that Paul Delaroche had done in 1838.
The celebrations of 2006 for the victory of the ussr in Second World War they had been great (there hadn't been the slightest mention of the genocides of Stalin and to the criticisms of George W. Bush for the non-democracy of small states Putin had replied: 'We have nothing to reproach ourselves for'). If someone touched Russia, the president immediately responded in kind: in October 2006, at table in Finland with Romano Prodi and the Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero , having been pinched on civil rights by the president of the European Parliament Joseph Borrell , he had explained – aloud, so that they could hear him well – that he certainly didn't accept lessons from those corrupt Spaniards and those mafia Italians. Zapatero and Prodi, shut up. The Russian people, over the moon.
However, the other idea was not yet entirely clear: Putin he planned to gradually reconstruct the large map of the old one ussr , bringing back under the direct or indirect rule of Moscow the 14 federated republics that with Russia had formed the Soviet Union: Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan . To which it was necessary to add, perhaps only mentally, the old satellite states: Ungheria, Romania, Cecoslovacchia, Poland, Bulgaria . Some of these republics and satellite states had even joined NATO, that is, they had been armed by the Americans! • The hard fist had meanwhile been seen at work against the terrorists: in September 2004 a Chechen commando had entered the elementary school number 1 of Beslan , in the' North Ossetia , and had kidnapped 1,200 people: Putin had given the order that the school be raided and the terrorists killed without paying too much attention to the fate of the hostages. This was done and, in addition to the 32 kidnappers, more than 300 civilians were killed, including 186 children. Two years earlier, when another Chechen commando, between the first and second acts of the Nord-Ost show, had fallen into the theater Dubrovka of Moscow and had imprisoned 850 spectators, Putin had followed the same line: kill the kidnappers and not worry too much about the kidnapped.
Before the break-in, fentanyl had been pumped into the room through the ventilation system, which had made everyone sleepy and even poisoned. After the raid and the shooting, more than 200 victims had been counted in the public. Dead people either because they were intoxicated by the gas or because they were massacred by bullets. Putin had gone on television to explain that he «he would have killed i Chechens even in the toilet'. Instead of the verb 'to kill', he had used the verb 'to wet' - mochit – according to the jargon of the underworld, which says “wet” meaning “to bury”. The people liked it very much. 'We are at the apocalypse: the chief of the cops speaks like a criminal' commented the grandfather of Nicolai Lilin , who recounted the episode in his biography. Putin on television, with his strong air, with his manly calm chatter, with his studied use of the expressions of the underworld learned in the courtyard of Baskov alley, and with his evident desire to make Russia great again and not to allow anyone to humiliate her, he made a big splash on the small screen. What did the chess champion matter? Garry Kasparov and the other opponents who fled abroad who relentlessly bombarded him with their interviews? Let them say that he organized the Chechen attacks to have the excuse to do what he did afterwards. Berezovsky Was he calling for a coup d'état ('I'll finance it')? You know how scary. No, we are not afraid of either Berezovsky or the four rowdy people, then regularly put in jail, who take to the streets. Anna Politkovskaya : three pistol shots in the chest and one in the forehead, in the elevator of her house, where she had entered with the shopping bags without paying attention to the man in the black jacket and the black baseball cap who was just waiting for the doors to close (« I have nothing to do with it, this thing damages us more than your articles»).
In Chechnya , land of oil and pipelines, the separatist leaders had all been killed. There, from now on, his friend would rule Ramzan Kadyrov . And Chechnya would never be talked about again • There was the problem of the presidency. The vote would have taken place in 2008 and Putin could not present himself, because the Constitution forbade him to occupy that post more than twice. On October 1, 2007, the congress of United Russia , Putin's party, and the delegates in chorus kept repeating to him: screw the Constitution, or change it, but somehow stay in the Kremlin. Putin answered: I can't give a damn, and changing the constitution right now would be a mistake. The deputy then took the floor Mikhail Terentyev , a man forced by illness to live in a wheelchair, beloved for willpower and for his sporting victories in cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions reserved for disabled athletes. He said: 'Volodia, if you can't stay president, at least try to become prime minister.' To this Putin replied with a smile • Things were organized in this way: since no law explicitly forbade the president of the Russian republics to stand as a candidate in the elections for Parliament (who could ever have believed that a written rule was needed for this?), Putin, remaining president, presented himself as the leader of United Russia and had the most faithful elected to the presidency Dmitry Anatolevich Medvedev , aged 43, prime minister since 2005, and before that president of Gazprom and a key man on the staff who led the 1999-2000 election campaign for Putin. Medvedev, as soon as he was elected president, would have appointed him to lead the government. Together, they would then extend the presidential term from four to six years with a law. In 2012, Putin could thus have re-run for the presidency: the Constitution forbade three consecutive terms, but nothing said about non-consecutive terms.
George W. Bush junior (1946)
President of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He said he would equip Poland with an anti-missile shield of ten batteries and the Czech Republic with a radar station, all with an anti-Iranian function, but one step away from Russia. Putin replied: then he will aim Russian guns at European cities. Putin also went on television: 'I don't use honeymoon language.' Later, June 2007, Putin provocatively said to Bush: why don't you come and build the anti-Iranian shield in Azerbaijan?
Angela Merkel (1954)
German Chancellor (“Kanzlerin”) from 2005 to 2021 • Putin had the habit of turning off the taps of the gas to the countries that gave him some trouble. In January 2007 he cut off the gas to the Belarusians. Merkel, at that time president of the european union , put it right with these words: 'The Soviet Union was a more reliable trading partner than today's self-styled democratic Russia.' Putin hurriedly cobbled together a conciliatory statement and hurriedly reopened the Druzhba tap (the relationship between Merkel and Putin deserves a separate treatise. She – former communist Germany – speaks perfect Russian. He, as we know, is very fluent in German. She he supports him and at the same time at the first opportunity he stabs him Opel despite the Italians.
And they actually agree on gas, given that they understood each other well on the pipeline Nord Stream 2 , a pipe that carries fuel from Russia to Germany, wanted by the former chancellor Gerhard Schröder who had now been hired by Putin with a salary of one million euros a year precisely to carry on the work. And yet once in Sochi, while they were arguing, Putin, knowing that she is afraid of dogs, suddenly let his big black dog into the room, and the dog, as is the custom of dogs, rummaging between her calves, she was paralyzed • Putin had turned off the taps and cut off the gas to the Belarusians because he was fed up with the demonstrations against the president Aljaksandr Lukashenko his friend, fresh winner of the elections thanks to a huge amount of fraud. It was a question - for Putin - of demonstrating to those people, in case he hadn't understood it, that the Belarus stood because the Russians were selling him gas at bargain prices, seven out of ten products arrived in Belarus from Russia, the army was armed and financed by the Russians, the Kgb responded directly to Putin, if Putin had wanted the country would have starved in a week • There were gas issues with the Ukrainians as well. In Ukraine Putin's enemy had won the elections, Viktor Yushchenko , which someone had unsuccessfully tried to poison (Yushchenko then went around with his face horribly pockmarked because of that attack). Putin, who had always sold gas at half price to the Ukrainians too, demanded that at this point they pay full price, or so, and in January 2006 he turned off the taps, putting Europe in crisis as well.
Hashim Thaci (1968)
President of the Kosovo from 2016 to 2020. Then put on trial at the There are for crimes against humanity • Kosovo is a region of Serbia , whose population is mostly Albanian, but has been forced by history to coexist with a sizeable Serbian minority. The opposite of what happens in the rest of the country, where the Serbian majority has to deal with a sizeable Albanian minority on a daily basis. The two communities – in the part of Serbia called Kosovo, and in the rest – don't like each other. It had reached the point that Albanian troops, determined to defend the right of the Albanian majority in Kosovo, were ready to march on Kosovo starting from the Macedonia , while Serbian troops, determined to defend the right of the Serbian minority in Kosovo, were equally ready to enter Kosovo starting from Serbia. 28,000 soldiers watched over the place Nato , and yet the irreparable could always happen: the two communities had already attacked each other in the 1990s.
It was then that the Kosovar president Hashim Thaci announced that Kosovo would proclaim itself independent on 17 February 2008. Indeed, on February 17, 2008, the Kosovo parliament proclaimed the country's independence, sending not only the Serbs into a rage, but also Putin, who shouted from Moscow: «So what about Abkhazia? What about South Ossetia?” meaning by this that, if one recognized the principle that any people, out of the blue, could proclaim themselves independent of the central power, even Abkhazia and South Ossetia, one day, would have had the right to detach themselves from the pro-American Georgia (we are in the Caucasus). And in fact, while the Americans, Italians, British and, in principle, all the governments of the West (to date 74) hurriedly recognized the new State of Kosovo , Spain remained on its own. He hasn't taken a position on Kosovo even today, because recognizing the procedure with which Kosovo had made itself independent meant admitting that the Catalans or the Basques too could one day… • Putin said: «I'll send the migs to help my Serbian friends» . Then he let it go.
Mikheil Saakashvili (1967)
President of Georgia Caucasian from 2004 to 2007, and then from 2008 to 2013. As a half-Ukrainian, he also served as governor of Odessa from 2015 to 2016. Wanted in Georgia for violence and abuse of power: his Georgian citizenship was taken away. In 2017, he was also stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship. President Volodymyr Zelenskij but he returned it to her. He is very tall (one meter and 95) • Saakashvili he had teamed up with the Americans and had received five billion dollars a year in exchange and the offer – which he would have loved to accept – to enter the Nato . The Georgians' pro-Western policy had also made possible the construction of an oil and gas pipeline that did not distribute Russian oil and gas and did not pass through Russia at all. The big tube Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyan , said Btc , dubbed ”the Silk Road of the 21st century”, and the pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum , this Bte , start from Azerbaijan, pass through Georgia and end up in Turkey. The Europeans very willingly get supplies from the two Georgian pipes and this is, for Putin, very, very annoying.
But there was more: Georgia, in terms of energy supplies, was not blackmailable like Ukraine and Belarus, because the Georgians, thanks to the material arriving from Azerbaijan, can, in terms of energy, do it themselves . Putin exploited the existence of two pro-Russian provinces in pro-American Georgia, the Abkhazia and the South Ossetia , who want to be autonomous and have their own governments, also capable of opposing the politics that are decided at the centre. After Kosovo, these two provinces let it be known that they too could, sooner or later, proclaim themselves independent and ally themselves once and for all with Moscow. South Ossetia also proclaimed that it wanted to reunite with its brothers in North Ossetia, a province which was instead in Russian territory. The problem was that both South Ossetia and Abkhazia were present, based on resolutions Him and Osce , Russian troops, so when Saakashvili sent Georgian soldiers to Ossetia to put an end to a whole series of border incidents, Putin had an incontrovertible reason to intervene in turn and start a real war, with bombings, tank invasions, battles and naval blockades. Putin, in the face of American grievances, brought up, for the first time, the story of the volunteers: 'There are volunteers who are impossible to stop'. The Americans, through the mouth of the vice president Dick Cheney they shouted: 'This attack cannot go unanswered.' And Putin: 'We just want to force the Georgians to negotiate.' It ended after a few days with complete Russian victory and 2,000 dead. Putin had gained ground. In Georgia, which nonetheless remains aligned with the West, there has been almost no talk of joining NATO.
Silvio Berlusconi (1936)
Entrepreneur in construction, then in television (Canale 5, Italia 1, Retequattro), then in sport (Milan, then Monza), finally protagonist of political life from 2004 to today, as Prime Minister (1994-1995; 2001-2006; 2008-2011) and head of a centre-right party called Come on Italy and a coalition of conservatives called the Polo della or delle Libertà. A great friend of Putin • It was known that he was a friend of Putin, but a few tasty details came out of the mass of documents released in November 2010 by Julian Assange , the so-called ' for wikileaks ”, that is, reports on the leaders of the entire world of the American secret services. After describing Berlusconi as a 'vain, useless and incapable' man, 'physically and politically weak', too dedicated to 'wild parties' ( wild parties ) that prevent him from resting as he should, the too close friendship with Putin is described as 'disturbing': generous gifts, lucrative contracts in the energy sector and a shadow broker russian-speaking , i.e. speaking Russian. This could be the most worrying revelation, because certainly there is no need for a mediator ( go-between ) to bring together Berlusconi and Putin , and therefore this gentleman - if he exists - should be the one who deals with the dirty side of many matters, including possible bribes (which, especially in the energy sector, have always existed). Indeed, Berlusconi – according to the non-profit organization WikiLeaks – would have a strong propensity to be foreign minister and to sign agreements directly with Putin, skipping all the structures and greatly frustrating the diplomats of the Italian embassy in Moscow.
Finally: «Berlusconi appears more and more as the spokesman ( mouthpiece ) of Putin in Europe». Instead Putin, capable of dominating all the politicians of the country, is made a 'fool' ( undermined ) from its bureaucracy, an apparatus that the US official deems ungovernable • Putin has said many times on television that 80% of his provisions are not implemented.
Pussy Riot (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich, aged 23, 24 and 29 respectively at the time of the events narrated below)
'Pussy Riot' would mean 'Revolt of the Gnocca', it is the musical group formed by three Russian girls who during the 2012 electoral campaign (Putin and Medveded, according to plan, took turns returning respectively as president and prime minister) protested Putin going to guitar in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow 'Blessed Virgin, kick out Putin' and 'Mother of God, become a feminist'. The patriarch Kirill , having seen the performance on YouTube, phoned the Russian president, and the three ended up in jail. In the hearing of 17 August 2012 in the Khamovnichesky court (a district of Moscow), the judge Marina Syrova he sentenced them to two years' imprisonment, to be served in full, given that – according to the sentence – only complete isolation could have corrected their crime. As the judge spoke, the leader of the three – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – he stood up, crossed his arms and put the writing on the shirt “No pasaran” in full view. The case turned out to be more complicated than expected: having started off in full swing for the usual repression which would have confirmed the axis with the Orthodox Church, Putin unexpectedly found himself accused by the big stars of the whole world - Madonna , Sting , Paul McCartney – and had to hastily back off so as not to be hit in the strength he cares most about, that of popularity.
The crime of hooliganism provides for sentences of seven years in Russia, the prosecution had asked for three, in the end it was reduced to two following a statement made by the Russian president in London («There is no need for a too severe sentence ») and to the completely new sentiment of the Orthodox representatives who invited forgiveness. But perhaps a small avalanche had set off in Moscow: contesting the regime was suddenly a matter of good taste, the street performances of the female (still topless) they were art, ditto monstratzie from Artyom Loskutov of Novosibirsk is the docu-fiction di Timur Bekmambetov . The stylist Alexander Arutyunov he had even started a blog entitled “Fashion on the Barricades” (www.fashionprotest.ru) full of characters wearing “Pussy Riot” T-shirts.
Gérard Depardieu (1948)
French actor. Having the French president François Hollande proposed a 75% tax on income quotas exceeding one million euros (year 2012), Depardieu he went to Néchin in Belgium and here he received the offer of Russian citizenship from Putin. Enthusiastically accepted, bought house 30 kilometers from Moscow. Meanwhile, the French Constitutional Council had rejected the idea: at this rate level - the magistrates said - it is not a tax, but a confiscation; in France, then, family income is taken into consideration preferentially, while the 75% mechanism affects the individually wealthy. That is: an individual with an income of one million and 200 thousand euros would have been harassed, a couple formed by husband and wife with an income of 600 thousand euros each would have gotten away with it.
Nikos Anastasiadis (1946)
President of Cyprus since 2013 • The mess of Cipro is this: the island, having staked its cards on finance and bought Greek bonds, found itself bankrupt at the time of the Greek default (2013). Europe was willing to lend ten billion, only if bank current accounts were first taxed up to 5.8 billion. The Cypriot Parliament said no and the president Anastasiades flew to Brussels to negotiate new terms. In the end, only current accounts exceeding 100,000 euros were taxed, and heavily. Problem: almost all of these current accounts were held by Russians and, in some rare cases, by the British. The GDP of Cyprus represented just one five hundredth of the European gross domestic product, except that the Cypriot banks held capital equal to seven times the GDP of the island (about twenty billion), all or almost all of Russian origin, and probably of criminal origin.
The current account tax sent a rage Putin and Medvedev , who had already lent two and a half billion to the Cypriots and now perhaps they were even willing to buy the island. Off the coast of Cyprus there is a natural gas field, disputed with the Cypriots by the Turks and Israelis and capable of satisfying 40% of Europe's energy needs.
Putin's fleet (the frigate Ladny, the cruiser Moskva, the landing ships Saratov, Nikolai Filchenkov, Novocherkassk, the submarine Alrosa) was sent to cross dangerously in those parts • Cyprus, in the following months, let Greece know in failure that he would be ready to help her if she decided to leave the European Union. Panos Kammenos , head of the Independent Greeks (right) allied at the time with the ruling party Syriza (left): «If Greece fails to reach an agreement with its European partners on debt renegotiation, it will turn to other countries for funds. What we want is an agreement, but if there is no agreement and we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow up Europe, then we will be forced to resort to Plan B. This means getting funds from another source, which could be the United States, at best, or Russia, China or others.
Victor Fedorovic Yanukovich (1950)
Three times prime minister between 2002 and 2007, then president of the Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. His fiefdom was in Donetsk. Friend of Putin, deposed in a street uprising in 2014 ( Euromaidan ), later tried and sentenced to 13 years in prison for high treason. On the run in Russia • Putin, to oppose the president's anti-Russian party Yuscenko – first poisoned, then forced out of the scene – had kept the price of gas supplies at the highest level. The friend came to power Yanukovic , Putin immediately granted a one-third reduction in the price of gas, brought to 268.5 dollars (two billion savings in one year), and also undertook to purchase 15 billion of Ukrainian public debt securities, part of the which, moreover, would have flowed into the coffers of Gazprom , in strong credit with Ukraine.
We are in the year 2013. Yanukovych also had an EU proposal on the table, which would have paved the way for entry into the European Union, demanded by a large part of the population. Yanukovych not only preferred Putin's side, but also transferred entire Ukrainian industrial sectors to Russia and sold vast agricultural territories to the Chinese, allies already then of Moscow. Despite the large number of unemployed, the president favored a strong flow in Ukraine of Chinese workers. Putin also wanted Ukraine to enter a free trade zone with Georgia, but in the end he shelved this claim.
Michail Borisovich Chodorkovskij (1963)
Entrepreneur, one of the looting oligarchs of the state at the fall of communism. Richest man in Russia in 2003, 16th in the world according to Forbes in that same year • At the time, Chodorkovskij for just $160 million, he had gotten his hands on the oil company Yukos , which had a turnover of three billion a year. You were present at the meeting where Putin, newly elected president, had said to the rich: I will not poke my nose into the systems you have used to make money, but you stay away from politics. Almost everyone listened to him, Chodorkovsky instead started financing political parties and had made up his mind to run in the presidential elections against Putin himself. He finished in Siberia , accused of fraud, money laundering and theft of oil. Yukos was broken up and the pieces sold to various state departments. After ten years in prison, on the eve of Sochi Olympics , Putin abruptly granted a pardon. Chodorkovsky's mother was dying in Berlin, apparently it was a humanitarian gesture in exchange for which, once again, Chodorkovsky would have abstained from any political initiative. However, it was not only, or perhaps not at all, a humanitarian gesture • Two months later, the Winter Olympics were to take place in Sochi. Sochi was – and is – the longest city in Europe, 145 kilometers of coastline.
Putin pulled out more than ten billion dollars and hired the Dutch architect Eric van Egeraat , an aficionado of shoeboxes, who takes, perforates, deforms, bends, a builder of buildings with blurred outlines, a Mondrian lover. On the recommendation of the president, he built an archipelago of 3.3 million square meters, in the shape of Russia, with artificial rivers that remodeled the river network of the country, reproduced the mountain system to scale, presented two marinas framed by churches , sports centres, five-star hotels. That is, a planetary show was being prepared. To all this the rest of the world had responded with remarkable coolness. Hollande let it be known that he would not be present, Obama would be represented by two lesbians ( Billie Jean King , 70, tennis legend, e Caitlin Cahow , of the national hockey team, strongly committed to rights Lgbt ), other self-styled human rights defenders would have turned up their noses and been difficult. Now – Putin must have thought – I'll show you. And he had begun to distribute graces: free them Pussy Riot (see above), out the militants of Greenpeace arrested in the Arctic, four of those accused for the street protests of 2012 were also released. And a gesture of humanity towards poor Chodorkovsky, on whom Putin was on the safe side since he was implicated in a murder trial (even Chodorkovsky, at the time, he had anyone who got in his way killed) that could be celebrated or not celebrated. After all, in 2008, the Chinese, in view of the Olympics, had done more or less the same, softening their foreign policy (at that time there was the question of Darfur), limiting executions, etc. Putin, with the Olympics, hoped for a universal consecration, always along the line of forcing the world to include Russia once again among the big ones.
Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko (1965)
Entrepreneur, owner of the Roschen sweets factory (sweets he cannot eat because he is diabetic). President of Ukrainian republic from 2014 to 2019 • Came to power at the end of the protests – the so-called revolution “ Euromaidan ”, named after the Maidan square of Kiev which was at the center of the demonstrations – which erupted in the night between 21 and 22 November 2013, when the president Yanukovych (see) abolished the free trade zone between the European Union and Ukraine. Putin took advantage of the unrest to cross the eastern border of the country - that is, the part of Donbass corresponding to the Russophone district of the Donetsk – by self-styled volunteers in unidentifiable uniforms (the so-called “little green men”). Same thing in Crimea where 25,000 of these volunteers were sent and a referendum on annexation to Russia was organized, won by Putin with 90% of the votes. Referendum highly contested by United States and European Union , but in which perhaps – given the overwhelming majority of Russian speakers – there was no need for fraud. Putin worked so that although he had clearly invaded both Donbass and Crimea, no one could formally accuse him of attacking the country • In 1954 Kruscev he had given Crimea to Ukraine, with the understanding that the fleet would continue to base its bases there.
However, with the fall of the wall and of the USSR, the Russians obtained that in the former Soviet republics, Russian speakers continued to have dual citizenship. Then there is the 1994 memorandum, signed in Budapest: the United States, Great Britain and Russia (the new Russia) undertook to guarantee the territorial integrity of the country. Strictly speaking, the Crimea it didn't seem like a big deal: it wasn't financially self-sufficient, Kiev had to pass it 794 million euros every year. Calculations between the income and expenditure of the peninsula, in case the Russians arrived, said that the negative balance for Moscow would be 2 billion a year: it was also necessary to bring water there, build power plants, build a bridge over the strait of Kerch (it was built by Rotenberg, the one with whom Putin as a boy did judo).
A period of collapse in tourism during the Cold War and militarization phase had to be taken into account. Capital flight should not be underestimated, determined by the sanctions decided by Westerners to punish Russian aggressiveness in Ukraine • Crimea hosted 6 million vacationers every year, popular descendants of the nobles of Guilds ( The lady with the dog is the romance between two tourists in Crimea). Russia did not seem to have the means for such important investments, that year its budget would have closed with 6 and a half billion in liabilities. And yet, in the considerations relating to that move, rather convincing geostrategic reasonings had to prevail.
The Crimea it is a kind of huge natural port overlooking the black sea . Whoever owns Crimea, controls the Black Sea. The Black Sea is in fact a large lake, with a small passage to the other seas of the world. This step is called Bosphorus . Leaving by boat from Sevastopol – where the Russian fleet was – you cross the Black Sea and pass the Bosphorus: where are we? In another small lake, which is called Sea of Marmara . It's not actually a lake, not even this one, because in turn it has an opening downwards, called Strait of the Dardanelles . With our boat we also cross the Dardanelles and where are we? In the Aegean Sea , that is, in front of Greece! The Gulf of Taranto is one step away! That is, whoever controls the Black Sea arrives early in the Mediterranean .
But let's suppose that the Russians don't own the Black Sea: to get within sight of the Gulf of Taranto their fleet would have to leave from Siberia… For Putin, clearly, this was out of the question • Winner in Crimea is in the Donbass , on the border of which Russian troops of 50,000 men were stationed and where the pro-Russian separatists would have proclaimed the two autonomous republics of Donetsk and of Luhansk , recognized by Moscow on the eve of the invasion of Ukraine (we are in the middle of the Kosovo case), Putin however had lost in Kiev, because the new president Poroshenko he had been elected by pro-Europeans and he himself would have proved himself in favor of his country's entry into the EU and NATO membership. For Putin, two blasphemies • 9 million Russians live in Ukraine, out of a population of 44 million people divided into a hundred ethnic groups.
Barack Obama (1961)
President of the United States from 2009 to 2017 • He had sent the carrier Donald Cook to cross in international waters off the Crimea. He then told CBS: 'Russia must withdraw its troops massed on the border with Ukraine'. Putin's response: 'There are no troops massed anywhere', and meanwhile a Su-24 was flying over the American aircraft carrier (invited by the ship to make itself known, the pilot did not answer). sigmar gabriel , German Economy Minister, immediately made it clear that there was no real way of contrasting Putin: «There is no sensible alternative to Russian gas supplies and it is unlikely that Moscow will block direct supplies to Europe due to of the crisis in Ukraine. Even in the darkest moments of the Cold War, Russia has respected its contracts. Medvedev interviewed by Panorama (Berlusconi's newspaper): «For several decades to come, Europe will have no other safe sources of natural gas. Only Russia is able to respond to the growth in European demand'. It grew and was cheap shale gas American, the result of a brand new technology, the crushing of clays. But with the transport in Europe the price became prohibitive • Analysts argued that Putin's plan was to agree to some partition of Ukraine, which would give Russia the Donbass or even the eastern half of the country to be federated with the western part.
From there, Moscow would then maneuver to prevent Western Ukraine from joining the EU or becoming a member of it Nato . Putin did not seem to fear isolation from the West, since he had Chinese and Indians on his side and, generally speaking, those Asian nations that had suffered British or Dutch colonialism in the past. Obama , and then more clearly Trump when he became president, they made it clear to Europeans that there was a problem of military readiness. According to the figures of the year 2015, not so dissimilar from those of today, the minimum expenditure to be a full-fledged member of NATO should have been equal to 2% of GDP.
Germany instead invested 1.3%, France 1.9%, Italy 1.2% (just over 15 billion instead of the 30 due). In contrast, the United States paid 72% of all bills Nato and they had a military budget equal to 4.1% of their GDP, or just under 600 billion dollars. That sounds like huge numbers, but Russia, at the time, was spending more on armaments than the Americans. NATO had dramatically reduced its presence: the soldiers of the Alliance were 1,940,342 in 2006 and in 2014 they had dropped to 1,453,028. And the Americans had done the same: in 1998, 800 US military aircraft flew in the European skies, in 2014-15 just 172 (including 12 flying tankers and 30 cargo planes). The soldiers deer on the continent they were at the time of Richard Nixon 400 thousand. At that time they were 67 thousand. Marina: from 40,000, seven thousand remained. The New York Times he noted, for example, that the 82,000 British effectives were less than those employed by the Duke of Wellington in the battle of Waterloo • In an interview with Corriere della Sera of June 2015, Putin said this: «It was not Russia that fomented the nationalism of the Ukrainian south-east, but the rash European pretension to create a single market from Lisbon to Vladivostock excluding Moscow. Russia does not speak in a confrontational tone with anyone and in these matters, as she said Otto von Bismarck , “the speeches are not important, but the potential”. What do real potentials say? US military spending is greater than the military spending of all the countries in the world combined. Those of Nato are ten times higher than those of the Russian Federation . Russia has practically no more military bases abroad. Our policy does not have a global, offensive or aggressive character. Publish the map of the world in your newspaper, showing all the American military bases and you will see the difference. I'll give you some examples. Near the coasts of Norway there are American submarines in permanent service. The time it takes for a missile to reach Moscow from these submarines is 17 minutes. And you mean that we behave aggressively? We are not moving anywhere, it is the infrastructure of Nato that approaches our borders» • As for the Ukraine , its military strength, after so many years of infighting, was practically non-existent. The few units sent to the East to face the Russians in disguise had arrived on the spot without having eaten for four days, they had meekly disarmed and neutralized by the civilians who had surrounded them, then had sadly returned home. The Ukrainians had circled a few fighters over the skies of Donetsk , but with a painful effect: the planes, believing with their roar to scare who knows who, following a trajectory they veered on themselves covering a laughable area, more similar to the aircraft of some acrobatic team than to true guardians of the territory.
Xi Jinping (1953)
Chinese President • In May 2014, Putin persuaded the Chinese president Xi Jinping to buy the gas Russian. It was a historical fact. Moscow had been trying to conclude this deal for ten years, but the Chinese wanted an exaggerated discount and rejected the fluctuations in the price of gas, financially linked to oil prices. Finally Putin - who was suffering from Western sanctions - convinced them to accept a range of 350-400 dollars per thousand cubic meters, and when finally President Xi's men were convinced, he committed to a supply of 38 billion cubic meters thirty years from 2018. Assumed value: 456 billion dollars. Putin and Xi were present at the signing. Putin, below sanctions , had clearly sought and found a huge alternative market. Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi : «The China-Russia relationship is at the best moment in history» • There was also a solid military understanding between the two countries. In July, the two countries jointly conducted a series of military exercises. After the gas agreement, Xi stated that the agreement shifted the geo-strategic axis to the east. That is to say, the confrontation was now between the USA and China/Russia, with Europe in an increasingly residual position and the Islamists as a common problem • China and Russia were then allies in the so-called Shanghai group (with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), born to favor a «friendly collaboration», and then transformed, de facto, into a military bloc • On Ukraine, in the Security Council, the Chinese she abstained. Gazprom demanded from the Ukrainians the advance payment of the June supplies and the balance of the past due. Otherwise he would have turned off the taps. This was more than $5 billion, which clearly Kiev did not possess. Moscow, now that the friend Yanukovych had been kicked out, it was no longer available at the highly favorable price of $265 per thousand cubic yards. He now he wanted 485.
Matthew Salvini (1973)
Secretary of the League . Interior Minister in the first government Conte (2018-2019) • Knowing that Putin had opened a credit line of 9 billion in favor of Marine Le Pen (November 2014) declared that some Russian money would be useful for him too. Putin's strategy in funding European parties was clear: to help anti-euro political formations wherever they were, in order to destabilize the enemies nestled in Strasbourg and Brussels. Putin considers them enemies because they welcomed in EU and in Nato Lithuanian , Estonia and Latvia , and then they tried to take the Ukraine . The League is against the sanctions , which, he says, cost us more than them, and generally supports Putin's line in Ukraine, yes to Crimea Russia, yes to the legitimate aspirations of the Russians of the East • The judiciary investigates Russian money at League and on the mysterious meeting at the Hotel Metropolis of Moscow during which - it is the hypothesis - a sale of diesel to Italy should have yielded a loan to the League. At the meeting (five people in all) would be present Gianluca Savoini , the man who maintains relations with Moscow on behalf of Salvini , and an agent of the Russian secret services.
Elvira Nabiullina (1963)
President of Central Bank of Russia • The financial weight of Crimea , of the troops sent to the border of Donbass , of the sanctions Westerners and above all the collapse of the oil price (between 50 and 60 dollars) he obliged Elvira Nabiullina to bring the discount rate from 10 to 17.5%. They were in the last days of 2014, midwinter. The home loan is subject to an interest rate of 25-30%. It was a level at which investment was impossible and shelves destined to empty. Gazprom it was laying off 100,000 of its 459,000 employees. The Russians – but also the Finns and Belarusians – had spent the last hundred hours emptying their wallets and looting the shops with their last good money. Suvs, iPhones, villas overlooking the Urals, jewels had been swept away. All goods whose prices were still firm. A tangible sign of the times: the massive purchase of four crisis products: flour, buckwheat, matches, soap. The times seemed to be back Yeltsin or even of Soviet Union .
Bashar al-Assad (1965)
Between the first Ukrainian crisis and the dawn of February 24, 2022, when Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade the country, the European front was not the only one that saw Russian troops or mercenaries in action. On the contrary. In Syria , Putin unhesitatingly sided with the regime Bashar al-Assad , president 'by chance' since 2000 who succeeded his father, Hafiz al-Assad , who had held the country with an iron fist until his death. Putin backed Bashar and led him to a victory no one would bet on. The prize: not only a political credit that has also reduced the ambitions of the other big player in the area (and traditional enemy), namely the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan . But also to consolidate the Russian presence in the Mediterranean , which now has a solid base in Tartus. Russia intervened in the Syrian civil conflict in 2015. On September 13, 2021 Bashar he went to Moscow to make arrangements on how to suffocate the last rebel enclaves, supported by the United States and Turkey. Meanwhile Putin has cast his shadow over the Africa , up to Libya . And where he dominated the France , today to dominate in arms are the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner .
George Dell'ArtiSource: oggi.it