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Putin Shifts Focus of Patriotism

Published: May 14, 2014 (Issue # 1810)




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Afew years ago inan interview with Western journalists, President Vladimir Putin made astatementthat was so strange people thought it was ajoke. It is my misfortune...[and] tragedy that I am alone. There just isnt anyone else like me inthe world. After Mahatma Gandhi died, there was nobody left totalk with.

Actually, Putin chats with Syrian President Bashar Assad, theleaders inIran andother people Gandhi would clearly never have spoken with. But there is asmall bit oftruth inwhat Putin said. Theworld really doesnt listen toPutin. People only hear what they want tohear, andthat is whatever doesnt upset them. Back in2005, Putin said that thedissolution ofthe Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe ofthe 20th century. Many people only remembered these words when it became clear that fixing theresults ofthat catastrophe atleast inpart has become Russias top foreign policy strategy.

Buried inthe usual official niceties ofthe two speeches Putin gave tocommemorate Victory Day onMay 9 inMoscowandSevastopolwere several important messages. Addressing theworld, Putin asked everyone torespect our legitimate interests, including therestoration ofhistorical justice andthe right toself-determination.

But self-determination does not apply toethnic groups within Russia, where promoting separatism was recently made afelony. AndRussias legitimate interests include former Soviet republics, where Putin, inviolation ofinternational law, has been restoring historical justice as he sees fit.

It is interesting tocompare Putins speech atthe May 9 parade inMoscow with thespeechhe gave ayear ago. Last year, he ended with acall to overcome all difficulties andobstacles andpass onto our children aprosperous, free andstrong Russia. This year, prosperous andfree were gone. Intheir place were calls toplace service tothe fatherland above all andto defend theinterests ofRussia.

Thedifference between this years defending Russias interests andlast years defending thehomeland is significant. Thedifference can be understood fromthe text ofthe law onveterans. Out ofthe list of49 wars that theSoviet military fought inthe 20th century, only inWorld War II did Soviet soldiers defend their country frominvasion. All therest ofthe wars took place onforeign territory. Thelist includes thesuppression ofthe Hungarian uprising of1956, thewar inKorea, military operations inEgypt during theSix-Day andYom Kippur Wars. It also includes military operations inVietnam beginning inJanuary 1961, when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was still categorically opposed tosending U.S. troops intothe conflict.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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