Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tallinn: One year on

The anniversary of the Bronze Soldier Night in Tallinn is coming up.

Worth reminding oneself about what really happened.

The disgraceful way that the Kremlin directly interfered in the issue has ended up backfiring very badly on Russia. The cyber-attacks that were launched from Russia, indeed from the very servers of the Russian Government will be remembered as the first war fought in cyberspace- and one that is still continuing.

Tallinn is now to be the centre for the co-ordination of NATO defence against such attacks, and of course the way the attacks were launched, though they broke the Estonian systems for several days, also gave away a lot of information about the shape of the Russian network.

In the meantime, Estonia has faced a co-ordinated, but unofficial boycott by its large neighbour, and continuing pressure and attempted interference.

The unmistakable message that Putin sent out, however, seems to have only convinced world opinion that Russia is not merely a prickly and unpredictable interlocutor, but a dangerous one. The more that Putin has proclaimed his country to be a reliable supplier of oil and gas, the more pressure he puts on international investors in the country. Russian oil production is actually falling, because the technology that might help develop the Russian fields is not brought to the country because the patent holder fear- quite rightly- that their proprietary technology will be stolen from them. The absence of rule of law in the Russian Federation renders any agreements essentially worthless.

Russia has been regarded as unreliable for some time, but the evidence is growing that Russia is now becoming actively disliked- and not just in the country's that were forced to become Soviet torture chambers and charnel houses. The Police in France have cracked down on the prostitution and other vices that came in the wake of the influx of Russian visitors to the French Ski slopes- and several resorts across the Alps will no longer accept bookings from Russia.

Crude, loud and vulgar- the ostentatious displays of wealth that the oligarchs have made, far from making them popular have in fact created the impression overseas that the country is largely controlled by whores and hoodlums- not the reality, and a very unattractive image to have.

Estonia still nurses the scars of the events, as it seeks to heal the fractures that the riot unleashed, but the image of Russia as a boorish bully run by a vulgar and criminal elite is now well entrenched across the world. Goodwill towards Russia is now a very rare emotion indeed.

The oil and commodities boom that created this more assertive Russia may now be coming to an end, but the strong Rouble that was another by-product of the boom, has fatally weakened Russian manufacturing- where most people are actually employed. The brutal- indeed murderous power struggle amongst the siloviki- the new elite of Russia which owes its origins to the former security organs of state, the GRU, KGB etc- does not give confidence that stability in the country can be maintained.

It would, perhaps, be poetic justice if the biggest loser from the Bronze Soldier affair would be the aggressor- Russia itself. Certainly all is far from well on the banks of the Moskva, and the hardening of attitudes against Russia across the world is a direct consequence of the brutality that Russia showed last year.


So? said...

A fib repeated ad nauseam doesn't make it true. One year later, and there is still not a shred of evidence - your bias and prejudice do not count.

Anonymous said...

So at 5:52 AM, Everybody know Russia is controlled by gangsters and former KGB agents. The most vocal critics of Putin, like Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko and many others have been killed ruthlesly. Russia is a criminal state even if you repeated ad nauseam that it isn't, and you as well as we all know it.

Jo Hayes said...

And the Kremlin is deliberately protecting the main suspect in the poisoning of Litvinenko in London - not only a meticulously premeditated murder but also without a thought for the long term contamination of unknown numbers of innocent Londoners. Putin and his associates' thuggish government style may make the Russian people temporarily feel better about the loss of an empire but in the long run they need to get themselves some good governance and the rule of law and it is up to them to vote Putin's lot out.