By Danny R. Johnson
WASHINGTON, DC – The horrific July 17 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH Flight 17 killing all 298 passengers by Russian backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine has presented a disturbing dilemma for some Europeans, libertarians and conservatives who before the incident, were making excuses for Russian president Vladimir Putin and his actions in Ukraine. A distaste for Western intervention and the popularity of a world leader whose macho persona begs to be satirized online has probably helped to fuel a sympathetic narrative of the Russian leader and his actions in Crimea.
A common criticism levied against those opposed to Russian intervention in Ukraine is that Putin was democratically elected. The recent events unfolding in separatist held Eastern Ukraine has finally spotlighted Putin’s cold and callous, ruthless, and narcissist psychopathy dark side. If the allegations which are levied against Putin that he supplied the rebels with advance missiles believed to have been used to shoot down MH17; and to have the bodies scattered over a field sweltering in the oppressive sun in a most undignified manner; and to wait three days before mentioning anything about the incident proves that the world is dealing with a psychopathy monster who is in the same boat with Saddam Hussein, Libya Muammar al-Gaddafi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
Yes, Putin, the former KGB operative who is now estimated by Forbes to be worth $10 billion has been elected several times in a slew of kangaroo elections. After serving as Prime Minister from 1999-2000, Putin was elected President. To appease widespread disapproval of his leadership, Putin allowed his colleague Dmitri Medvedev to run for president in 2008 while he returned to the Prime Minister position. In 2012, Medvedev allowed Putin to return the presidency. Regardless of which office he was holding, Putin has remained in control of Russia. How’s that for a democracy.
In 2012 Putin returned to the presidency amid allegations of widespread election fraud and massive protests. Anti-Putin protesters were forcibly detained. Tough crackdowns against political protesters have become a hallmark of the Putin regime.
In 2009 attorney Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were gunned down in broad daylight only a half mile from the Kremlin. Markelov was defending Chechens who had been brutalized by Russian troops and disparaged by the Russian media. Baburova was a journalist critical of Putin and Russian policies towards the Chechens. Baburova became the 15th journalist to be murdered since Putin’s reign began. The murders of Putin’s political opposition are never truly investigated. Another famed victim of Putin’s media purge was Anna Politkovskaya. A staunch critic of Putin and an internationally acclaimed journalist, Politkovskaya was executed in the light of day on Putin’s birthday in 2006. Her book Putin’s Russia detailed an authoritarian regime and human rights violations committed against Chechens in their ongoing conflict with Russia.
In 2006, another high-profile death marred the image of the Putin regime. Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer, fled persecution from Russia and sought asylum in the United Kingdom. Litvinenko had accused Putin of pedophilia. It soon became clear that Litvinenko had been poisoned with a rare form of plutonium. In his dying statement attributed to Litvinenko was published by the Mail on Sunday Online November 25, 2006 entitled Why I believe Putin wanted me dead…In his last statement he said about Putin: “…this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition. You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value. You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women.You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate.”
Though British officials believed they knew Russian intelligence was behind the assassination, they failed in their attempt to extradite the intelligence officer they believed responsible. Just one more name on the long line of murderers that Putin’s regime has never been held accountable for. Fortunately the Brits have agreed to reopen the case in light of 10 Brits killed on MH17.
Putin has ruled through fear and intimidation. He has openly conducted the Russian state as an instrument of political murder. He has imprisoned protesters and presided over laws which violate human rights.
He has exerted that very same dominance over neighboring states, especially in Ukraine. In fact, Russia has already cracked down on Ukrainian independent media since spring 2014 ouster of their puppet Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Moscow after an angry mob demanded his head. Putin is not a democratic leader and he is not a man of the people. 73% of Russians are opposed to the military intervention in Ukraine. It may be Putin’s most unpopular move to date amongst the Russian people. Americans and Europeans should be careful not to accept Kremlin propaganda on face value. Putin’s actions reflect his desire to expand the iron grasp of Russia to former Soviet states, not the benevolent intervention of a man of the people.
The most common definition for psychopaths are that they are without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves. Paul Babiak, Ph.D, one of the world’s leading psychologists, stated that political figures like Putin are classic psychopaths because “he can be egocentric in the extreme, and is seemingly unable to experience deep human emotions, especially love and compassion.”
The fact that the mutilated bodies of 200+ human beings laid rotting in the hot sun on an open field for the world see for three days – and Putin did nothing but remained silent. To add insult to injuries to the families of these decease human beings – he offers a hollow apology and refuses to admit any culpability or responsibility. Only after the Europeans demanded action did he respond three days later in a hastily prepared video released in the wee hours of the morning. “Putin, says Dr. Babiak, “on the surface he comes across as being normal, having superficial charm and good intelligence. But underneath he is a person with deep insecurities, flaws, and darkness.”
It appears that Alexander Litvinenko’s last dying words are coming to fruition and hopefully the Europeans and the world for that matter, will now wake up and see the real Vladimir Putin for the psychopath he really is.
Danny R. Johnson is San Diego County News’ Washington, DC Correspondent