20 years under Putin: a timeline

As Russian parliamentary and presidential elections approach, opposition leaders are reaching out to the United States and the West for support. One of these opposition members is Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion and leader of “The Other Russia” political coalition. He spoke about the disastrous consequences of Vladimir Putin’s return at an event sponsored by the Hudson Institute on November 3 in New York City.



At the Hudson Institute lunch in his honor, Kasparov, who retired from his chess career to focus on political activities in 2005, delivered a passionate speech on the intricate political situation in Russia. He described the country’s regime as “one-man dictatorship” of Vladimir Putin, whose governing style reminded Kasparov of the “Godfather” movie trilogy.

According to Kasparov, over the course of the last eleven years, Putin and his closest allies have become billionaires by stealing from the country they rule and simultaneously tricking their fellow citizens and the Western world into believing that they are building a free democratic country. “Medvedev’s presidency was nothing but a successful secret service operation that helped Putin buy four extra years to change the Russian Constitution, though he treats it like a simple piece of paper anyway,” Kasparov insisted.

Kasparov continued by expressing regret that the West, and especially the U.S., still cooperates with Putin out of a fear that Russia could cut America’s military passage to Afghanistan through its territory. “He’s bluffing, but let’s allow Putin to admit it himself. Putin doesn’t need a Taliban victory in Afghanistan.” Kasparov then added: “When President Reagan called the USSR an ‘evil empire’ in 1983, the Soviet Union was no harmless puppy. Putin needs to hear the clear messages coming from the West.” Adopting the Magnitsky Act is one such message Putin may need to heed.

Kasparov further argued: “Putin is more vulnerable than he seems, because he keeps his money here, in the free world. He offers the ultimate protection to his inner circle — the ability to commit crimes in Russia with impunity and to keep their money safely abroad. Once you pull it out of his portfolio, his vulnerability will be exposed.”

Kasparov criticized some shortcomings of U.S. foreign policy, namely, trying to negotiate energy security issues with prominent dictators, such as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the late Muammar Qadaffi of Libya, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. “Just imagine $3 billion spent on alternative energy instead of the war in Iraq. Then [the U.S.] wouldn’t have to worry about depending on the oil coming from these countries,” argued Kasparov. He concluded by saying that the U.S. Administration should never have traded its moral principles for business deals with dictators, “nor should the U.S. do so with Mr. Putin.”


Olga Khvostunova