Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Freedom to Tyranny - Is America Walking Down Russia's Path

Andrei Illarionov held many senior Russian government positions, including Putin's senior economic advisor and the President's personal representative to the G8 economic summit.

Last month Illarionov, having resigned from his duties, testified before Congress on the state of Russia, describing how a country that most, including its citizens, thought was transitioning from tyranny to democracy, had made the transition to becoming a tyranny again.

I have excerpted a few key points in his testimony that are relevant not only to Russia, but to the future of the United States as a democratic country. Because what has happened in Russia, could happen here too. It might have happened already.

Today’s Russia is not a democratic country. The international human rights organization Freedom House assigns "Not Free" status to Russia since 2004 for each of the last 5 years. According to the classification of the political regimes, the current one in Russia should be considered as hard authoritarianism. The central place in the Russian political system is occupied by the Corporation of the secret police.

The personnel of Federal Security Service — both in active service as well as retired one — form a special type of unity (non-necessarily institutionalized) that can be called brotherhood, order, or corporation. The Corporation of the secret police operatives (CSP) includes first of all acting and former officers of the FSB (former KGB).

CSP and the Russian society

Members of the CSP are specially trained, strongly motivated and mentally oriented to use force against other people and in this regard differ substantially from civilians. The important distinction of enforcement in today’s Russia from enforcement in rule-based nations is that in the former case it doesn’t necessarily imply enforcement of Law. It means solely enforcement of Power and Force regardless of Law, quite often against Law. Members of the Corporation are trained and inspired with the superiority complex over the rest of the population. Members of the Corporation exude a sense of being the bosses that superior to other people who are not members of the CSP. They are equipped with membership perks, including two most tangible instruments conferring real power over the rest of population in today’s Russia — the FSB IDs and the right to carry and use weapons.

Capture of State Power by the CSP

Since ascension of Vladimir Putin to power the members of the CSP have infiltrated all branches of power in Russia. According to the Olga Kryshtanovskaya’s study up to 77% of the 1016 top government positions have been taken by people with security background (26% with openly stated affiliation to different enforcement agencies and other 51% with hidden affiliation). Main bodies of the Russian state (Presidential Administration, Government apparatus, Tax agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Parliament, Court system) as well as main business groups and most important mass-media outlets have been captured by the CSP. Since the members of the CSP have taken key positions in the most important institutions of the state, business groups, media channels, almost all valuable resources available in the society (political, executive, legal, judicial, enforcement, military, economic, financial, media) have been concentrated and in many cases monopolized in the hands of the CSP.

Mass Media

Independent mass media in Russia virtually does not exist. The TV channels, radio, printed media are heavily censored with government propaganda

Electoral System

Since 1999 there is no free, open, competitive parliamentary or presidential election in Russia. The last two elections — the parliamentary one in December 2007 and presidential one in March 2008 — have been conducted as special operations and been heavily rigged with at least 20 mln ballots in each case stuffed in favor of the regime candidates. None of the opposition political parties or opposition politicians has been allowed either to participate in the elections, or even to be registered at the Ministry of Justice.

The key to Russia's transition from democracy under Yeltsin to tyranny under Putin was to exploit a crisis, and use a dedicated corps to take control of branch after branch of government at all levels of authority, proceeding then to eliminate independent media outlets and political opposition.

The crisis was twofold, first Russia's economic disaster that was blamed on an excessively deregulated free market and the heads of various corporations. Secondly the disastrous war against Islamic terrorists in Chechnya, and an attempt to intervene in Yugoslavia to prevent the rise of a Muslim Albanian state in Kosovo.

An economic crisis blamed on deregulation and two wars against Muslim terrorists. Sound familiar yet?

Widely blamed for economic corruption and military failures, Yeltsin resigned turning over the government to Ex-KGB man Putin. Putin's solution to Russia's economic problems was nationalization.

Putin's regime forcibly and fraudulently seized a number of corporations, most prominently Gazprom, while conducting a smear campaign against their executives. Some were jailed, when they attempted to appeal, their lawyers were jailed too. He removed local representation, appointing State Governors personally. Power was centralized through him.

For this Putin was hailed as a reformer fighting for the people, who had brought stability to Russia. Using the seized loot of nationalized corporations, he created a network composed of KGB and ex-KGB personnel who now control most of Russia's political and business infrastructure. Much of Russia's wealth was siphoned away as bribes to them.

The press was not openly nationalized, but it was ruthlessly winnowed. The media ceaselessly chant praise of Putin. Opposition outlets have been taken over or shut down. Journalists who dissent are beaten and eventually killed, if they don't get the message. The media speaks in one voice.

Putin's advisors created Nashi "Ours", officially the "Youth Democratic Anti-Fascist Movement", a youth corps personally loyal to Putin and his agenda. With the passage of HR 1388, the (GIVE) Act, or as one subtitle is labeled with no trace of irony, (Learn and Serve America) ,only the comma before America is missing-- it's worth taking a look at how the Russian version works.

It's official. To be patriotic in Russia is to be a fan of Putin, specifically a Putin Youth.

“The idea was to create an ideology based on a total devotion to the president and his course,” says a Kremlin adviser, Sergei Markov.

While their methods are still mostly street theater, it’s probably only a matter of time before they graduate to more serious violence. Indeed, their recruiting boot camps feature paramilitary training to fight against fascists

Another deeply disturbing government initiative is labeling critics “extremists” and criminals, another tactic of all serious totalitarian states. When you can criminalize criticism of the government, there is nothing you can’t get away with, and all remaining freedoms are hanging by a thread.

Now officially Nashi looks almost benevolent, a service corps of youth volunteers that aids the sick and disabled, provides information, aids the birth rate and meets with political leaders. In return its "volunteers" receive college educations followed by careers in politics and the Russian bureaucracy. It looks a lot like the vision for a youth service corps embedded in HR 1388.

Of course the real purpose of Nashi is a national corps of volunteers combating "fascism". Fascists being anyone who criticizes Putin. Their guiding principle is an obsessive devotion to Putin. Their ultimate purpose is to form the next government party, one composed of men and women completely obedient to Putin, membership in which is compulsory for government service.

It is fascinating to see this reverse engineered version of the Communist and Nazi parties. It's also horrifying because the ingredients are in place for the same process to be applied to the United States.

Obama rose to power to power based on an economic crisis and two wars. His response to the crisis is to push nationalization and centralization, backed by a cult of personality. His advisors are determined to leverage this crisis to transform him into a savior, to be given credit for ending an economic depression, followed by giving him virtually unlimited power.

Obama already has widespread media worship, but his paranoid control over the press makes it clear that he isn't satisfied with anything but total power. Hence the early campaign against Rush Limbaugh and then CNBC figures who criticized him. Like Putin, you can't support Obama 75 percent of the time. You must support him 100 percent of the time, or keep your mouth shut.

If Obama's plans come to pass, the casualties will be independent businesses which will be given the choice between serving as Obama supporters, their CEO's serving a role similar to that of Putin's pet oligarchs, and state governments, which will become unable to meet their debts and expenses, and will be taken over by Federally appointed caretakers that will become Governors in all but name.

The youth corps would serve as the final element. HR 1388 calls for integrating them into every academic and learning environment, including private schools. It calls for treating "service based learning" as a fundamental part of every curriculum, from cradle to university. It lays out specific guidelines and the bare bones of a far larger plan with campuses and superintendents, with a 6 billion dollar price tag, over Obama's first term.

Will this really happen here? It might. The future isn't set and there are many variables, but we are moving along a similar road and it behooves us to take a look at what happened in Russia, because contrary to what many believe, it can happen here.

Throughout the 20th century, power has increasingly moved out of the hands of the American people and into the hands of local and national bureaucracies. Tax rates have climbed in order to fund the constant expansion of government, which in turn has placed more and more government demands on the average person.

The problem is not the left's phantom military-industrial complex, but the very real balance beam between corporations and government, that are likely to end the same way they did in Europe or Russia. With the bureaucracy co-opting corporations into government rule.

Law enforcement has gained more authority over a general public that now reflexively defers to their power, and feels inept and unable to engage in any form of self-defense. Answering to authority, a reflex once described as foreign to Americans by Lafayette, is now a commonplace part of daily life.

Independent thought has become increasingly absent, people get their opinions from the corporate media and from the wider celebrity oriented discourse, that helped push Obama to the top. People have stopped listening and they have stopped thinking. Many have also stopped believing. Values have become degraded, religion has become entertainment with celebrity preachers and rabbis mixing pop culture populism with feel good advice. The difference between right and wrong, propriety and impropriety, selflessness and selfishness is no longer apparent to most people.

All the conditions are there for implementing authoritarian rule. And all the conditions are also there for the people to wake and restore America as a government of the people and by the people, that governs the people least. Which way the pendulum will swing, may determine where a decade from now former top American political figures are giving testimony somewhere abroad about how America ceased to be a free nation.


susan h said...

Sultan: Thank you for this article.

In the little bit I heard Tuesday from Obama's press conference, I thought he mentioned something about giving Geitner SPECIAL POWERS to fix the economy as he saw fit. When I heard that kind of rhetoric, it reminded me of what Bush did after 9/11, install SPECIAL POWERS to himself that led us into the Iraq war. NO ONE NEEDS SPECIAL POWERS AND CONGRESS SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL OF THIS KIND OF LANGUAGE. POWERS is a slippery slope we cannot afford this administration to have. I am hopeful and pray the 13 or 14"Blue Dog Democrats" led by Evan Bayh have enough spine to stop some of what Obama is doing and force him to be more fiscally conservative and responsible. The youth service corps is a very scary concept.

Anonymous said...

government is best when it governs least. that is what this country was in its beginning. I wish there were more Libertarians out there among the citizenry. I have heard it is the third largest political party in America.

Great article Sultan.
Big Love

Keli Ata said...

There are definite parallels between Putin and Obama. Alarming ones. I read once that Putin described the US as first among many great superpowers. A switch from the days when Russia was the sole super power. It seems odd for Russia to be suddening willing to share the role with another country.

A strange and dangerous synthesis of opposites. Well, what used to be opposites.

Anonymous said...

Pretty scary!

And most of it is already done or on the way. Obomber is a "Road Runner"... a "speedy Gonzales". He did all of this in two months and 5 days.


- Obomber and the Democrat Party already have a superiority complex over the rest of the population. They feel they are not accountable and can get away with anything.

- The MSM speaks in one voice.

- Criticism is not tolerated. Remember Joe the Plumber, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin? If you criticize them, they will search every aspect of your life and try to ruin your reputation.

- Obsessive devotion to Obomber by the Obots. If you disagree with them, you are a "racist".

- The electoral system is no more reliable. Census has change hands and ACORN will be on the Census.

- They have already exploited the financial crisis that they have created and blamed it on deregulation of the Free Market, although the real reason is the opposite, they have regulated the banks and forced them to give loans to people who couldn't afford it.

- They already blamed Bush for the cost of the war on terrorism.

- They nationalized the auto industries.

- They are redistributing the wealth. Tax the rich and pay for the mortgages of the poor people.

- They took the Cyber security to the White House.

- Obomber has created many Czars in his organization who will be accountable to him alone.

- The House passed the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act on Monday. The bill includes language indicating young people will be forced to participate in mandatory national service programs.

- He is friendly to communist leaders: Castro, Chavez, Putin.

- He is friendly to terrorist's countries: Greeting to Iran, 900 millions dollars to Palestinians, looking for an exit strategy in Afghanistan.


- He will create a personal goon's squad (3 millions of people) who will be loyal to Obomber and his agenda.

- They will ban guns.

- They want to nationalize the banks, the health system and many other things. Anything they can put their hands on.

- He wants to change the Constitution and rewrite the Declaration of Independence. And maybe change the Flag... make it 57stars, representing the 57 States of the Islamic Conference... lol

- They are creating a mandatory special ID card.

- They want to push a second Porkulus bill.

- They are open for a new global currency to replace the dollar.

- They will promote the carbon taxes.

- They are thinking of rescuing Liberal Newspapers.

- And so on and so on.

THE BUM has to be removed NOW before it is too late. I am counting on Dr Orly Taitz to do it thru Courts. I hope every Americans will back her on this issue. She needs the number to be powerful. Alone, she is powerless no matter how hard she tries. With million of Americans backing her, SCOTUS will have no other choice then to issue a suppoena for all of Obomber's records.

(French Canadian)

reoconnot said...

When I heard that kind of rhetoric, it reminded me of what Bush did after 9/11, install SPECIAL POWERS to himself that led us into the Iraq war

Shameless revisionist invention, with of course nothing to back it up. Congress voted for the Iraq war.

Anonymous said...


The war in Irak was a good thing and was also a great success.

What do you have against Iraqis that are now relieved of their brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein? Don't you like to see them happy, free and properous?

Why don't you like to have a democratic country in the Middle East?

Why aren't you glad that Bush kept you safe for 8 years?

What's wrong with you? Are you pro-terrorist or what?

(French Canadian)

Lemon said...

Poor Putin.

Anonymous said...


Meditate this:

The way facts are presented leads to insist on what is and ignore what is not. You could see the attacks in Iraq. But you could not see the thousands of lives saved by the destruction of terrorist's nests; one can never show the carnage that did not take place.

(French Canadian)

Keli Ata said...

French Canadian--it is scary how much Obama has been able to implement in so little time. All the more reason for us to believe its not the sole actions of a single, bumbling, inexperienced president. This has been in the works for a while.

Obama's doing it all ambush-style as if he knows after four years people will be on to him. I just hope by then its not to late to save the country from what he's trying to do to it.

Scary indeed.

I don't know about Putin. It seems he wants to restore the Soviet Union but if that ever happened would he be willing to share the title of superpower with any other country?

While what Putin is doing has parallels with Obama I still have this fear that Obama's objective is far different. Call me crazy and ignorant of history (which admittedly I am) but didn't the Nazis turn on Russia? Couldn't Obama be modeling himself and trying to model Putin and Russia all the while having a much more Muslim agenda, not unlike Hitler and the Nazis?

seeingright said...

This President is the sorriest excuse for a leader I have ever witnessed in my entire life. There is a screw loose with this man's pesonality. He is angry and resentful and wants to level that anger at many Americans. I honestly believe Obama could give a rat's ass about America. I am not convinced he even thinks of himself as a USA citizen. I think he is batting for the other side. He has spent too many years being schooled in radical socialism, Islam and everything else that is anti-American. I believe if this man is NOT stopped he will do whatever he can to ruin the Country as quickly as possible.

You don't believe me? How can a sitting President make jokes about Special Olympics children, or laugh at the state of the economy on 60 Minutes or have parties with his NBA buddies in the White House every week while the average American is deeply worried. Then when it is time to work he is bowling, wasting air-time on the teleprompter or hopping Air Force one to the tune of a $500,000 expense just to jet across the Country for a town hall meeting. This person is one SICK ####!

The sooner we get him out of office on an impeachment or this birth certificate scandal the happier I will be. I don't care if there are riots in the streets.. enough is enough!

Sultan Knish said...

French Canadian, I believe Reoconnot was arguing that the Iraq war was legitimate, not the other way around.

You might want to be more careful with your fire. We're all on the same side here.

Lemon said...

That's because you never saw riots in the streets. If you had you wouldn't be so quick to say that.

Bush Sr. , Clinton and Bush Jr were every bit as bad as Obama if not more so because they were smart and Obama is just a tool.
All of these men lead this nation to the point where it is right now.

The war in Iraq did nothing. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and in the end , when we leave, Iraq will have a religious government that will become our bitter enemy just like most other mohammedan nations. Those of the Iraqis who liked us there will not last long.
We are still in Afghanistan doing not a heck of a lot and now Obama will drive us deeper in there.

Eisenhower warned us about those who came after him who would use environment and war to create a tyranny over the people.

Bush and Clinton made executive orders like crazy and became like tin horn dictators because of it.

And, no, Congress did not declare war on Iraq or Afghanistan and these 'go on forever' police actions are not what we should be doing ever.
Iraq and Iran are more Korea and Vietnams.

Both political sides in America are the same. There are no good guys anymore. One side simply dissolves the Republic slower than the other, that's all.

navyvet48 said...

Obama isn't running this country that is why we appear rudderless. The master puppeteers that are running this country have long been in place. In 1963 the Communist Manifesto was read into the Congressional Record. We have completed or nearly completed all 10 Communist planks.

Sorry if I sound tin foil hattish....I just feel as though someone else is running this country....I can see the parallels between Putin and Obama.

Last night I averted a virus attck on my computer again. The more I speak out the more it happens...I almost shut down my I realize I am part of the who;e.

I will never be silenced...and none of us should.

Thank you once more for your insight. It always educates me and gives me a great perspective on life in this country which is being hijacked by a corrupt government.

Keli Ata said...

I think you're right. It's pretty hard to tell which side is wearing the white hats anymore.

Obama wouldn't have been able to come to power (yes, I know makes him sound like a dictator)and do what he's doing without the foundation having been set by other presidents and elected officials and civilians behind the scenes.

Obama wasn't merely elected president, he came to power--as any dictator does.

Sultan Knish said...

It's important to remember that we're a part of history, not apart from history and there are plenty of dangerous precedents to show us where we're headed

susan h said...

Lemon you are so right. Both political sides in America are the same. There are no good guys anymore.

I came to this realization very late - election 2008 opened my eyes. Until then I was stupidly/naively/ignorantly thinking that the democrats were all good and the republicans were all bad. But seeing very close up & personal the stealing of the primary from Hillary Clinton by Obama, the DNC and main stream media while putting forth a candidate who probably is not eligible to be president under our constitution, I was so dumb-founded by it all that I think it changed my life! I looked around and for the first time saw that Republicans were not the enemy. I had thought during the Bush years that if/when another democrat would get into the White House, all would be wonderful! Be careful what you wish for!

I am still shell-shocked by the fact that the democratic party is not what I thought it was. The people I thought I would be so happy to have lead us I now hate, am disgusted by and actually fear. Thank you Sultan, for providing this forum where we can discuss all of this freely (none of my friends will listen to me talking about this anymore!!!)

Sultan Knish said...

The parties are only collections of factions, in the case of the Democratic party, the left faction has successfully hijacked much of the party. Which is what the 2008 election was really about.

In the case of the Republican party, it's a corporate structure with an identity crisis.

Neither party at this point is good for America, but no third party is likely to thrive or succeed either.

The Democratic party is currently stuck promoting some sort of merger between its corporate supporters and the left wing socialists.

The Republican party's corporate donors want it to be an identity-less centrist party, a tack that bombed badly in the 2008 election, because they want victory more than they want values. Meanwhile the grass roots continue to be ignored, which may pave the way for the Republican mirror image of Obama.

Ideally Americans need to rethink the role of government and how much power has been placed in an expanding Federal government. The problem is that this issue tends to be hijacked by kooks and loons who discredit the whole thing by association alone, e.g. Ron Paul. This sums up the current political picture and it's a tough ride at best.

Anonymous said...

Sultan you are right. I am a very passionate person and very quick on the trigger, probably due to my Latin roots... lol. I'm so used to leftist’s moonbats in Québec's blogs that I easily tend to see them everywhere.

Sorry Reoconnot, I got your comment wrong, I was sure you meant the Iraq war was a mistake.

This being said, I believe we are not looking at the right things. We should not be discussing of the Democrat/Republican Parties. We should be discussing of liberal and conservatives values.

Through the years, both Parties have been moving to the Center and we cannot recognize them anymore.

I believe that conservative’s values are good for a country.
- Small government
- Recognizing good and evil
- Protecting us from foreign and domestic enemies
- Free Market
- Freedom and rights
- Protection of life
- Respect of the Constitution
- Integrity
- Transparency
- Etc.
(French Canadian)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Oh... Eric Holder & Hillary Propose Ban On Assault Weapons (Video)

(French Canadian)

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