Putin, the kleptocrat?

Professor discusses life, politics of Russian President

By: Jess Larkin ~Copy Editor~

Amidst the conflicts in Russia regarding Ukraine and the seizure of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin maintains the image of a virtuous and nationalist leader that helped Russia escape from corruption and weakness in the 1990s. Karen Dawisha, a Soviet and Russian politics professor from Miami University, portrays a more unfamiliar Putin in her book “Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?”

Karen Dawisha (above) spoke to students about Russian politics.

Dawisha spoke on Dec. 1 in Cintas Center about her research and the future of the Russian government in relation to its kleptocratic system. Her book uncovers Putin’s intentions in power and how he uses that power for personal gain, even before his presidential term.
Dawisha estimated that Putin’s personal earnings accumulate to around $40 billion in wealth with several luxuries listed in his name. The names of the wealthy never fluctuate because of the apparent monetary divide between classes. The wealthy are given more wealth while also taking from the poor.

She states that Putin’s regime is “committed to a life of looting without parallel.” He maintained relations within Russian crime circles and climbed atop the social ladder to a rung that allowed him to accumulate more and more wealth at the expense of those less fortunate.

Her work goes into detail, revealing the corruption of the Russian government and the inner-workings of the people in power and how that power is being mistreated. She examines the mechanics of the KGB, the Russian secret police, and its influence on Russian government and policies as well as numerous crime circles that exist and influence Russian politics.

According to Dawisha, Putin increased broadcast censorship in Russia, using intimidation and backroom pressure to assure that the media only reports what is beneficial to his image. In this way, he maintained the illusion Editorof order amidst crisis. As a result, many journalists and publishers refused to acknowledge Dawisha’s work, in fear that there would be devastating legal consequences that would result in bankruptcy.

Vladimir Putin
Russian politics professor Karen Dawisha spoke at Xavier about the life and politics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, pictured above at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Putin’s actions, especially in regards to his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, have drawn criticsm from some members of the international community

Though publishing houses refused her work, she used the denial as a demonstration of the Russian government’s ability to censor media that threatens the image of their political leaders. The result of this censorship is the continued trust in corrupted political policies and leaders that are pulling the strings and dictating who is wealthy and who is not.

Dawisha was finally published with the help of publisher Simon and Schuster, Inc. The press release from Simon and Schuster noted that Dawisha turned to the work of Russian investigative journalists who revealed this corruption when there was less media censorship. Because of the information gathered from these journalists and the aid their work offered in her own research, she dedicated her book to “free Russian journalism.”

Dawisha’s work portrays immorality and dishonesty in the Russian government and suggests that changes need to be made to secure the future of a more uniform Russian government.