The rise of Vladimir Putin is a rather confusing and controversial one. From entering the political arena as Russia's 2nd and 4th president, as well as its 34th and 38th Prime Minister (yes, Russia has both). Vladimir Putin was plucked out of obscurity as a KGB agent and presented with the prestigious job as Advisor of International Affairs to Mayor Sobchak. At the time, Putin was seen as a quiet man who could be easily manipulated and persuaded by certain authorities within the United Russian Party (the largest political party in Russia). But boy were they wrong!
Currently, Vladimir Putin is Russia's 4th President and he's arguably doing a good job at it. Not a great one, but a good one. After the Cold War, Russia can't seem to catch a break from its Western comparison, and with undeniable efforts from the Western media, Russian acceptance is up for debate. Yet, don't be too persuaded by the effort to make Vladimir Putin seem like an "evil" dictator sent to reconstruct the fallen Soviet Empire. To show you what we mean, here's a list of 15 examples when Vladimir Putin seemingly outwitted, out-policied, and plain out-did the Western efforts trying to bring him and Russia down...
GMO is a Genetically Modified Organism created in a scientific lab which helps genetically engineer plants, animals, and even humans (not that it's used that way). GMO isn't natural and can result in damaging side effects, such as susceptibility to certain diseases, bacteria and sickness. GMO is also extremely harmful to the environment, as it requires more pesticides to be used in production and can lead to the contamination of natural seeds forever.
As the health craze continues in the West, with our obsession with being healthy and our concern for the environment, the banning of GMO can be a very popular topic - which is why the Russian government signed a deal to ban the production and exportation of any GMO product. This deal was signed by Putin in June 2015, which subsequently left Russia as the World's #1 exporter of Non-GMO goods. This is a very favourable move for the West, especially America, which is struggling with its diabetes epidemic. Trade deals with America may not be in the talks anytime soon, but Russia is certain to rank in some trading partners which will help boost the Russian economy, which has been declining due to oil prices.
Russia may have motivation to protect its naval base in Tartus but there's no doubt the country has taken on one of the strongest stances against the terrorist and genocide inflicting organization, ISIS (ISIL) in Syria. Which is part of the reason why Syrians took to the streets waving the Russian flag along with portraits of President Putin as a show of thanks for the Russian support of Assad and fight against ISIS - as seen from this BBC video. Syrians chanted "Thank You Russia, Thank You Putin" while marching in the streets nine months ago, right before the climax of violence hit. This is quite the contrast to the American affiliation in Syria, which has proven ineffective against ISIS, as the U.S coalition is backing many rebel groups rather than government forces.
Ever think about the wealthiest family in the world? For some reason not many do, as Rothschild isn't as well known of a family name as, let's say, Trump? Nonetheless the Rothschild Banking System is the largest in the world, owning hundreds of world banks. In fact, if you look up who owns your own country's banking system, it's probably going to be the Rothschilds - which is scary, considering the Rothschilds are an independent company and not in for the interests of every individual country's funds, which it subsequently owns.
In Russia's case they owed billions to the Rothschilds Bank, of which Putin was able to pay off over an increase of oil pricing between 2010-2015. This was great news for Russia, as it helped kick a Western stronghold out of Russia and its political sector. During a meeting at the Kremlin in 2016, President Putin reminded his cabinet members how he "grabbed [Rothschild] by the scruff of the neck and kicked them out Russia's back door." This is quite the win for Russia, as many countries, including the U.S.A, are billions - if not trillions - of dollars in debt to the Central Bank.
President Putin's strong deposition that isn't about to bow down to the West is bothersome to certain partisans - one of whom happens to be former U.S. Foreign Service Officer and current United States Ambassador to Russia, John F. Tefft, who made efforts to dismantle Putin's Presidency for a more puppet-like volunteer. John F. Tefft was even quoted as saying he will make efforts to "displace Putin from office and install our own people."
Still, President Putin has remained in power despite many efforts to discredit him through the media, in the political arena, and economically. How he's done it is up for debate, but it's clear the Russian people are happy with a President who's getting something done for the country, rather than running it further into the ground. Let's not forget, it's not hard to do in Russia.
While the United States is notorious for spending billions bailing out business tycoons, big time CEOs, and large scale companies with no consequence at all, President Putin has another method. Instead of just handing out $17.4 billion to a company like *cough cough* Bush did for GM, which ultimately cost the country $11.2 billion, in Russia the President actually shows up to the building. Back in 2009, one year after Bush bailed out GM, a company in Russia was facing a similar fate of bankruptcy; which lead to the holding of cheques to workers while CEOs and bosses were still payed a high salary. Instead of simply shelling out billions, Putin arrived at a business meeting with the factory owners demanding answers for their negligence.
During the conference Putin demanded to know "why you haven't fixed it till now?" telling the businessmen they "ran like cockroaches when [he] said [he] was coming." Putin then concluded the conference with a firm ultimatum for the company: reopen the factory and pay your workers or we'll find a way to do it for you. There was no mercy for the businessmen who clearly knew the mistakes they were making. You can watch the entire showdown in this video... much respect for Putin!
Remember the Fort McMurray fires that were blasted across any North American news channel during the month of May? You know, the fires that Canadian firemen couldn't contain themselves, so they had to accept the assistance of 300 Brazilian forest firefighters? The one which forced evacuation of over 80,000 people, and destroyed 2,400 structures? Well it appears Russia had a similar situation back in 2010, in the Ryazan region, where a wildfire took 50 lives and destroyed many local villages.
Vladimir Putin's response to his country's crisis was to strap in to a Russian-built Be-200 amphibious aircraft in efforts to put out the flames himself. This drew much attention to the cause - including international attention - which helped boost funds towards the cause. Putin also pledged to villagers who lost their houses that they would receive payment as compensation for their loss ($66,600 in total). This is a much different scenario than what happened with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who declined help from his country's Russian, U.S., and Mexican neighbours due to NATO conflicts. Trudeau did manage to release a statement on the fires, giving his condolences, and also made mention that the Federal Government would match any Red Cross donations.
While accusing Putin of having plans for another “Cold War” and infiltration of the Ukraine, a BBC reporter asked how Putin would deal with the falling rubble, as he would ultimately need assistance soon, particularly from the West. Putin responded by outwitting the BBC journalist, stating “you mentioned that Russia played its part in the development of tensions that we are seeing in the world, Russia did play its part in understanding that it is standing up for its national interests... the disdain from our Western friends comes from the fact that we are doing just that; standing up for our national interests.” A powerful response to a question fuelled by Western hysteria of Russia.
Of course, Putin went on to mock the journalist, finishing his response with “you’re telling me I’m the aggressor here? Have you any common sense at all?” after referencing NATO bases stationed throughout Europe as a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization - or NATO - is an allegiance of 28 countries who share collective interests and will come to the aid of another NATO member when requested. Some of the countries that make of NATO are; Canada, the United Kingdom, the U.S.A, France, Italy, and Norway to name a few. One of the biggest issues of NATO is its allegiance to members despite any international law that said country may be breaking. One such example is Turkey. Since 2011, links between oil transports into Turkey have been under scrutiny, but it was April of 2016 when links between the corrupt country and a notorious terrorist organization hit a climax. International reporters within Turkey began releasing information about ISIS recruits shuttling themselves between the Turkish and Syrian borders in - get this - UN trucks. If you don't believe me just look up the story of Serena Shim.
So where does Putin fit in all of this? Well Russia has refused to join NATO since its creation in 1949. Since then, Russia has made some peace clauses with NATO, but the two generally don't get along. In fact, Russia has recently even held Turkey accountable for its involvement with ISIS, after a Turkish F-16 flew near the Turkish-Syrian border, where Russia is fighting the Islamic war via aircraft. The papers released by Putin include allegations of Turkey's President Edrogan buying oil from ISIS, which is ultimately fuelling the conflict in Syria. Edrogan, however, denied such claims.
The United States is generally judged for its "Hollywood" lifestyle, capitalistic mentality, and the "American Dream." However, if you dig deep down, America doesn't have the greatest statistics on economics, education, health care etc. - things a country should be based on. One such area is education. Russia's literacy rate has always been high - probably due to conscription into the military, where education is mandatory and enforced - growing from 98% in 2000 to 99.7% in 2015, according to the UNESCO. Whereas, in America, the literacy rate was not reported to the UNESCO, but we do know that the literacy rate has not changed in 10 years. On top of that, 14% of the population cannot read, with 21% of adults reading under a 5th grade level and 19% of high-schoolers not being able to read at all. I'd say Russia is winning on this one. Oh and those 15 years Russia's literacy rate increased 1.7% was during Putin's reign.
Putin's long reign has happened for one reason: Putin is a genius. Putin was elected Presidential nominee for the party in 1999, which he won. Thereafter Putin then flopped between Presidency and being Prime Minister - so what's the difference between the two? Well, in short form, the President creates and defines general aspects of policies or laws and the Prime Minister works out the details. Oh, and the Prime Minister is appointed by the President.
After laws prohibited Putin from running another term as Prime Minister, he challenged President Dmitry Medvedev during the 4th Presidential election and won. Putin then changed certain rules allowing the President to have more influence than before. This is a much different reality than America, where a President is restricted to only winning two elections - forcing political parties to scramble to find leaders in insufficient time. This is no more true than the 2016 election, with Hilary Clinton versus Donald Trump - two candidates who wouldn't have made the cut if this were 20 years ago.
Crimea is a 27,000 squared kilometer peninsula that is home to 1.9 million people - of whom 65% are ethnic Russians and 97% of the population speaks Russian. In a 2014 referendum, the people of Crimea voted whether to stay a part of Ukraine or join a Russian Union. The results of this referendum came to a 95% vote in support of a Russian Union. As a response to the vote, Russia sent in soldiers to assist in uprisings against Russian civilians and began its plans for a bridge between Russia and Crimea. The international world did not take this lightly and NATO immediately placed economic sanctions on Russia which drastically affected the Russian economy. In early 2016, NATO began confronting the Euro-Russian border and set up camps. This was seen as an aggressive move, but no fighting has occurred. The relations between NATO countries and Russia has begun to diminish, though.
Russia has had many setbacks since the reign of the Soviet Union, so it's no secret that concern for the environment have been put on hold. With the steady incline of life in Russia since the dissolution of communism, it has taken time to begin really talking about climate change and what to do about it - but Putin has put environmental issues on the forefront for 2016. One of his initiatives is to hold the Year of The Environment in 2017 as a way to get the Russian people involved and educated about environmental initiatives. Other Western countries may still be leading on this poll, but Russia has suffered a lot of setbacks, so this initiative is a step in the right direction!
When it comes to deciding who's a better leader, it's the people's voice that matters most. Many love to poke jabs at the strict ruling of Putin saying he imprisons those who criticize his rule, but those claims simply aren't true. Putin may have put a ban on making memes or anything demeaning to the Russian Confederation, but he did so in a way to preserve its integrity - yes, it's true you can still argue politics in Russia. In a poll conducted by four American researchers, it shows Putin's approval rating standing at 80% in 2015. Obama's approval rating is a whopping 54% as of 2015 according to the Business Insider, which is 6% lower than Putin's lowest approval rating, which stood at 60% in 2003.
This may be more of a win against primarily America than the rest of the developed world. Universal health care was introduced to Russia in 1996 - this was a big boost to the social structure of Russia at the time, but it still had its kinks to work out. Fast forward to 2011 and President Putin is finally capable of introducing a reform to the country's health care, which would allocate more than 300 billion rubles to improving healthcare. Along with this, Putin increased company taxation for obligatory medical insurance from 3.1% to 5.1%, so the country's economy wouldn't take a major hit. Whereas in the United States, Obamacare, an arguable fail, was signed in 2010 and initialized in 2012.
After the attack on Paris in November 2015, the entire World was in an uproar. It was the first attack by the Islamic State on a core country which shocked the world, as it was a very bold move. The French declared war on ISIS two day later, along with the hacking group Anonymous, who helped close down ISIS' Twitter accounts and report any suspects to the FBI. In response to the attack on Paris, many leaders released statements, most of which were the stereotypical "we feel your pain" statements like those of Obama and Trudeau, but President Vladimir Putin had much stricter words - and his sources backed them up too. When asked to make a statement after the viscous attack, Vladimir Putin said this: "To forgive the terrorists is up to God, but to send them to him is up to me." Thereafter, in December, Vladimir Putin sent 150,000 soldiers into Syria to practice what he preached.