Tags: Dawisha | Putin | fraud | Russia

Scholar Exposes 'Putin's Kleptocracy'

By    |   Thursday, 16 Oct 2014 08:08 AM

With Russia's autocratic leader Vladimir Putin ramping up his war of nerves against the United States and the West, evidently to take advantage of weak leadership in America, Karen Dawisha, director of the William E. Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University of Ohio, appeared at the Wilson International Center for Scholars recently to talk about her new book, Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?

The program promised to deepen the understanding of the nature of a regime that seems bent on reestablishing Russia as a major player on the international scene while pursuing an economic model based on the concentration of untold wealth in the hands of oligarchs with close ties to Putin's Kremlin.

Dawisha received her Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and has also been affiliated with the Brookings Institution and with many other universities, including the University of Maryland.

Elizabeth Wood, a professor of Russian and Soviet History at MIT, provided commentary on the book.

The thesis of Dawisha's book is that as Russia has threatened the independence of some of its neighbors, the U.S. has responded not with military action but with the imposition of sanctions against individual Russian oligarchs. She called this policy an "admission" by the U.S. that "Putin has built a system based on massive predation not seen in Russia since the czars." (What about the Soviets?)

In support of her views Dawisha cited an estimate by Transparency International that corrupt payments in Russia have amounted to $300 billion, and $335 billion in capital has fled Russia since 2005, according to the Russian central bank. (That sounds low.) Credit Suisse credited Russia with achieving the highest inequality in the world, with 110 billionaires controlling 35 percent of the nation's wealth, and median wealth measured at $871 per adult, lower than any other BRIC country, and more corrupt than Nigeria.

Dawisha concluded that the Putin system represents nationalization of the risk and privatization of gains to loyalists. She accused Putin of creating this circumstance by intelligent design ever since he came to power. Dawisha lamented that most of the academic community, including herself, has spent the last 20 years focusing on the plight of democracy and has not given sufficient emphasis to the success of authoritarianism during the same period. In her view this pattern of development is traceable back to the fraudulent election of 2000, which she contends Putin would not have won without massive fraud.

A former Putin insider with an unsearchable name who has since broken with the regime has claimed that Putin led an extensive but politically invisible group of Andropov-trained former KGB officers in quest of a revanche of the Soviet regime that failed in 1991 but succeeded in 2000, and Dawisha adopted this view as part of the thesis of the book.

To this writer, Dawisha's version of the Russian circumstance brings an unduly light touch to the Russian circumstance and the role of the U.S. One hoped that this view might be challenged by the discussant, Wood.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
With Russia's autocratic leader Vladimir Putin ramping up his war of nerves against the U.S. and the West, Karen Dawisha, director of the William E. Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University of Ohio, spoke about her new book, Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?
Dawisha, Putin, fraud, Russia
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2014-08-16
Thursday, 16 Oct 2014 08:08 AM
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