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NO 107-108

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 107-108 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 107-108

May - June 2007



By Teofil Pancic

My dear, what a team! What an eclectic mélange of exalted priests, deeply moved Bolsheviks, maddening National General Practitioners, overwhelmed Poets, stupid but wise-looking foreign policy commentators, a variety of low-brow petty politics fauna (true, including some premiers) and, of course, that endemic sort of "ordinary people" - particularly represented by Retired Public Servants! Ergo, what a mélange of all those countless eccentrically formatted factors that at sundown sit in circles outside neighborhood supermarkets and emptily philosophize! And all of them in chorus praise and bow to Vladimir Putin, former KGB official/agent and incumbent president of the Russian Federation. They kiss the hem of his garment, and no one has any objection whatsoever about his hardcore rule. If some tiny objection arises at all - well, at least for the sake of "objectivity" - it immediately annuls itself by indicating "objective circumstances" (such as international developments intensify.) that justify specific and, oh, somewhat threatening behavior of today's Russia. For, see, it is only rational that Russia takes care of its fundamental national interests rather than basks in the luxury of blind belief in democratic standards. Well, that might sound fine to some, but who's the one that sovereignly defines "Russia's fundamental national interest?" It's definitely not either Viktor Peljevin or Gary Kasparov.

This picturesque, domestic fan club of the president of a foreign country could e called Our Putinists. Anyway, the hordes of young stormers in Russia itself that support Putin call themselves "Ours." Fine guys they are, those "Ours!" Well, from time to time they burn some inappropriate book at some fire-suitable Moscow square, but when they calm down they are real darlings. But let's deal with our Putinists and leave the Russian misery (or blessing) to those fated to live with it. Let's see the origins, the meaning and the direction this Serbian epidemic of Punin-philia takes us. First and foremost, this phenomenon should not be treated as something banal or as some calculating kissing the hands of a powerful man who "could help us to safeguard Kosovo." Something of that is true but does not take us closer to the understanding of this by far more complex (and rather paranormal) phenomenon. For starters, in the circles of our "nationally anxious" academic and media elite strategic Putin-philia is much older than the actual turmoil over "the final solution of the status of Kosovo." By reading foreign policy analyses in domestic mainstream newspapers - bylined by specialized journalists, university professors and political advisers alike - one could follow the development of the rhetoric of admiration for the new-old Putin's Russia. True, some of those analysts have noticed the new Russian President's inclination to authoritarian reasoning and, in particular, methods, and that in many aspects contemporary Russia has more or less resumed the Soviet model since his inauguration. So, our observers have not overlooked those facts. However, that has not prevented them from admiring more and more Vladimir Putin, the man who will "heal the wounded Russian bear" as those preferring the threadbare metaphors chanted with tears in their eyes. Interestingly, Gorbachev's and, in particular, Yeltsin's Russia was always depicted in dark tones: disintegration of the political and economic system, misery, unemployment, uncontrolled transition, mafia, violence, tycoons, drugs and other vices characteristic of the decadent West, general Chaos and Anarchy.True, that was one aspect of the life in this strange, unique country. But, on the other hand, never before in its history has Russia been such a free country - politically, economically, religiously and just name it. It has been the country freed from fear, and unafraid of some merciless tsar and his camarilla, of some Secretary General and his KGB or whatever. An ordinary Russian has been allowed to think, speak, write, travel, earn and spend freely, and to live his life at will. True, he was most free to sustain economic ruin - a chance millions have seized - but at the same time he was free to make his pile. As it seems, few over here have been taken in by this epochal change. However, when Putin was identified - with more or less good reason - as Great Restorer, many in Serbia run into his bearish, brotherly hug. Today's affectation over Kosovo just deepened and spread this bizarre charade. St. Putin was beatified in Serbia and became "our" saint-protector to whom every concerned Serbian granny should pray if she want her descendents to remain in their centennial homestead - wherever it might be. In the meantime Putin has become a candidate for honorary citizen of Belgrade, an even more honorary citizen of Serbia, a Patriarch in reserve, Tadic's superviser, owner of the name of a street or a boulevard.Well, in that case I also have something to propose. Let's name the town of Djakovica/Gjakove after him - Putin-town. And when our virtuous Putinists really place such signposts at all access roads to the town I'll take them as serious people rather than illusionists or harmful do-nothings.

But all this still solves not the riddle of Putin-philia. To tell the truth, I think it's mostly about a kind of farcical rerun of the romance with the early Milosevic, a nationwide sport in late 1980s. The elites were amorously cheering at that time as well and the "people" followed in their footsteps inasmuch as they knew how (and they tried hard for sure). Namely, Milosevic was welcomed as a (relatively) young and tough reformer - true, with somewhat deficient feeling for that what's-its-name.well, democracy and similar finesses. But he compensated his deficiency with ironclad "concern for national interests," which are, bros, most important in the final analysis. All those democratic grudges will be placed on the agenda one fine day when we put behind - by force or peaceful means - our numerous "statehood issues." So, Milosevic was there to install the hardware for Democracy, while the software would be considered in detail in due time. What was the outcome of that Consideration? An absolute and universal catastrophe we just managed to peer through twenty years later. However, it seems that no one has drawn a lesson from that experience. Instead, Putin is ascribed the same fantasia that used to be ascribed to "the young, handsome orator with sun in his windswept hair." And when it come to the eternal Kosovo refrain, we do remember, don't we, that many of our Wise Men have been infatuated with him mostly because that were banking on his ability to "save Kosovo." And now they expect the same from Putin. There is something strange about it: every savior of Kosovo lives further from his predecessor. Anyway, Kosovo is further and further away from us every time. Once it moves away further than New Zealand it will probably occur to someone over here that something is thoroughly and fundamentally wrong with such reasoning.


NO 107-108

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