Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vladimir Putin: Russian man of mystery

Sometimes Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be reading from the same script as Mike Myers when he playfully imitated James Bond as “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”

Myers awakens after being cyrogenically frozen for 30 years to find the Cold War is over. Because there is a Russian general in the room with an American general and a representative of British intelligence he assumes Moscow had won the Cold War.

After being told the West won, there is more bad news. The days of “free love” are over.

Putin, who was never more than a KGB paper-shuffler, is having to deal with being the world’s new South Africa.

Russian prostitutes had to raise their rates by up to 40 percent this week because the ruble has been effectively devalued.

The ex-KGB agent is following one of Pretoria’s main strategies. He is urging his country to become self-reliant. Avoid depending on foreign countries.

But unlike South Africa, which wooed investors with sweet talk, Putin can’t resist the carrot and stick approach.

In his state of the union address he promised investors who would return money they had pulled out an “amnesty,” suggesting punishment was also a possibility.

The Moscow Times reported Russia’s food health agency “was implementing temporary restrictions on imports of poultry and poultry products from the United States because of ‘harmful residues.’”

But Putin had personally ordered a ban on U.S. poultry imports on Aug. 6, according to CNN.

Earlier this week Putin announced a major pipeline would not be built because of Western sanctions over his attempts to split up the Ukraine.

He sends his warplanes and jets close to Western borders.

Washington and Germany, meanwhile, were considering new sanctions.

Existing sanctions, along with a world glut of oil, have dropped the value of the Russian currency by 42 percent since January.

South Africa had carefully controlled its currency, limiting access to dollars. Russia has tried to let the ruble float but the once-bashful government central bank said Thursday it will spend unlimited amounts to support the ruble.

Russian government planners now are predicting their economy will shrink next year as a result of the sanctions.

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