WikiLeaks: Putin Got Moody When Money Dried Up

Cables portray him as withdrawn amid recession
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2010 7:00 PM CST
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference in Bulgaria last month.   (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

(Newser) – In tonight's episode of WikiLeaks, we learn that the US is very much leery of Vladimir Putin and doesn't hold out much hope that the "tandemocracy" of Putin and Dmitry Medvedev ("who plays Robin to Putin's Batman," said one cable) will result in a democratic Russia. Some tidbits from the New York Times:

  • Putin became withdrawn amid the recession of 2009 and essentially stopped showing up at work. With falling commodity prices came less clout. “His disengagement reflects his recognition that a sharp reduction in resources limits his ability to find workable compromises among the Kremlin elite," said one envoy's assessment.
  • And: "There are consistent reports that Putin resents or resists the workload he carries."
  • The defense ministry, meanwhile, “has not changed its modus operandi for information exchange nor routine dialoguing since the end of the Cold War."

The cables paint a picture of a nation very much in the grip of corruption. And the Guardian takes a blunt approach in its opening paragraph: "Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centered on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organized crime are bound together to create a 'virtual mafia state.'" It quotes one cable as saying, "Everything depends on the Kremlin … [former Moscow mayor Yuri] Luzhkov, as well as many mayors and governors, pay off key insiders in the Kremlin."

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