Vladimir Putin’s War Against the Oligarchs

Vladimir Putin’s War Against the Oligarchs: Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Political Ideas and Yeltsin’s Legacy
By Matthew Raphael Johnson

Sixteen years ago, I began arguing that Vladimir Putin will rebuild Russia and make her
the vanguard in the battle against the globalization, or the “New World Order.” Back then, Gen.
Alexander Lebed was still alive, and I thought he would be the main personality and the muscle.
Predictably, this popular general died in a helicopter crash that, like all these political
assassinations, makes no sense.

Using the “wayback machine,” one can read some of my early writings on Putin and
Russia from 2003-2004 onward. There was no one else making this claim in English at the time.
The right was unified in condemning this “KGB operative.”

The successful fight against the (worst of the) oligarchs remains one of the most
important achievements of Vladimir Putin’s presidency. Under Yeltsin, “politics” was defined as
the manipulation of fragments of the old state for the immediate, short-term benefit of a wealthy
patron. Throughout Russian history, oligarchy has supported pro-western, liberal ideology
without fail since it permitted them free rein without any objective standards of conduct. No
capitalist could function without it.

The main theoretical point here is that the state must be more powerful than any
combination of oligarchical forces. This is a huge feat. He accomplished this, an achievement
most thought impossible in 1997. Most importantly, he forced Boris Berzhovsky and Vladimir
Gusinsky, Jewish nationalists, out of their media monopoly. State owned media (or at least partly
state-owned) was used as a balance to the endless Jewish liberal tripe day after day. The
Washington Post, heavily invested in the Russian media and a long-time partner of both crime
bosses, stopped at nothing to demonize Putin.  Read more

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