Russia’s dictator-for-life Vladimir Putin is every bit as sinister and evil as Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Tse-tung. He is a ruthless killer—of his own people and others, and of the human spirit. Recently, he warned against despotism and chaos in Russia, which is equivalent to Hitler warning against the death camps, or Stalin and Mao warning against the ravages of communism. Putin is the face of America’s enemies today, personified, as well as the enemy of free peoples everywhere. He is responsible for the dismantling of Russia’s incipient democracy. Despots like him are destroyed ultimately. However, in the interim, the death and destruction they bring about are savage, barbaric and tragic. Like a Mob boss, Putin is apt to die a cruel and horrible death, mirroring the cruelty that he and his ex-KGB lackeys have brought to so many in Russia and elsewhere.
He was born in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg; and he joined the KGB officially when he was 23, and rose through its ranks. He came to prominence as a KGB operative in East Germany—or the DDR, as it was known before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Erich Honecker’s government—which was one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet Union’s orbit, or the Evil Empire. Russia has a brutal history, especially since the rise of communism; and Putin is a product of that system. Stalin and Mao were the most ruthless killers of their own people, and that is Putin’s heritage. He learned his craft well; and he must be viewed in this context, not as some Westernized Russian democrat, which he is not. Under Putin, Stalin’s reputation has undergone a renaissance, despite being the killer of more than 30 million men, women and children who were his own countrymen. Putin is Stalin’s heir.
Some people argue there is a “soft side” to Putin, and that he has been principled and acted in the best interests of Russia. Indeed, it is argued that he fended off his ex-KGB lackeys in the selection of Dmitry Medvedev as Russia’s President, when Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term because of constitutionally-mandated term limits. Stalin, Hitler and Mao had soft sides too. Like Putin, they smiled and were shown in “photo ops” befriending children and women. In reality, they were butchers just as Putin is. Yes, the numbers of innocent people killed may differ among the four of them. However, each one brutally repressed democratic forces, systematically killed their own countrymen and others, and decimated the human spirit. When Putin was coming to power, I was told by an old friend on Capitol Hill that he was a “smoother version” of Stalin, and I will never forget those prescient and ominous words.
Russia is not a Third World country today, but it is close—and certainly it is no longer a superpower. Based on its gross domestic product (GDP), it ranks behind Italy, Brazil, Spain and Canada; and it is less than nine percent the size of the United States. Its military expenditures are 9.5 percent of the American spending; and its antiquated Soviet-era conscript military was on display in Georgia. Indeed, Putin left the Olympic games in Beijing and traveled to the Georgian border, where he directed the Kremlin’s cruel aggression against its vastly smaller neighbor. Today, the U.S. military has no peers; and when arrayed against “paper tigers” and backlot bullies like Putin’s Russia, Americans can be proud of what George W. Bush accomplished.
He kept American safe and strong; however, there are serious questions whether Barack Obama is building on and not diminishing that strength. The idea that the U.S. and Russia would agree in principle on a deal to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) with a new agreement that would cut each side’s nuclear arsenal is absurd. The Russians cannot be trusted; and Obama’s weakness is on display when he cuts any deals with Putin. China must be America’s focus of attention, not the backwater country of Russia. China must be included in any agreement, or else the cart is placed before the horse. Also, Obama surrendered to Putin by scrapping Bush’s proposed antiballistic missile shield for Eastern Europe—in the Czech Republic and Poland—which emboldened Putin and sent the worst signals possible to our allies in “New Europe.”
Those who “scold” Putin are subjected to harsh dictatorial rebukes, at the very least. His treatment of others is strikingly similar to how Stalin, Hitler and Mao treated their adversaries. Prison without trial—or “kangaroo trials”—has been commonplace. More often than not, they disappear or are ruthlessly killed to send loud and clear messages to those who challenge the dictator, or otherwise might be considered “enemies of the state.” Like Stalin before him, the full extent of Putin’s atrocities will never be known; and his “fingerprints” will not be found on the “murder weapons.” However, make no mistake about it: none of it would have happened without him.
In addition to what has been described above, it is useful to catalog some of the more heinous crimes and horrors that have happened since he came to power, for which he is responsible directly or indirectly:
• Russian apartment bombings in September 1999, which led the country into the Second Chechen War, and brought Putin to power.
• The assassination in London of former Russian state security officer Alexander Litvinenko who claimed, inter alia, that Putin ordered the Russian apartment bombings.
• The Dioxin poisoning of Victor Yushchenko, which left the Ukrainian President’s face greatly disfigured, jaundiced, bloated, and pockmarked.
• The brutal “Second Chechen War,” in which Russian troops entered Chechnya and took control over the country, with unofficial estimates ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or having “disappeared.”
• Miscellaneous jailings, killings and disappearances—including one of Putin’s mistresses.
At some point in time, he will be eliminated and disappear from the pages of history, just like so many other two-bit, tinhorn despots before him. Again, it is apt to happen violently, in an instant. Regardless of how he departs, one can only hope that it happens soon—and his reign of terror and that of his ex-KGB lackeys ends, like it did for Stalin, Hitler, Mao and their thugs. The sooner the better.
© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele
 Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War. He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years. See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles
 See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-russia-democracy24-2010jan24,0,3025105,full.story (“[A] democracy museum about Putin, the man whose ascent to power was marked by the loss of a free press, the unsolved killings of political critics and harsh crackdowns on antigovernment protests”)
 See, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/documents/StalinMaoHolocausts.pdf (“Aside from ordering the killing of those in the Soviet hierarchy, it is estimated that Stalin was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million men, women and children—his own countrymen—including millions during the collectivization of the Soviet farms in the 1930s. . . . [A]s the Soviets moved through Germany, they raped at least two million German women in what is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass rape in history.”)
 See id.
 See, e.g., http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118463398015768385.html?mod=googlenews_wsj (“Russia has become, in the precise sense of the word, a fascist state. It does not matter here, as the Kremlin’s apologists are so fond of pointing out, that Mr. Putin is wildly popular in Russia: Popularity is what competent despots get when they destroy independent media, stoke nationalistic fervor with military buildups and the cunning exploitation of the Church, and ride a wave of petrodollars to pay off the civil service and balance their budgets. Nor does it matter that Mr. Putin hasn’t re-nationalized the ‘means of production’ outright; corporatism was at the heart of Hitler’s economic policy, too.”)
 See, e.g., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2195.html (2009 est.) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29 (2009 est.)
 See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/world/europe/18shield.html; see also http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama; http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/barack-obama-america%E2%80%99s-second-emperor; http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/obama-in-afghanistan-doomed-from-the-start; http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan%E2%80%99s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/
 See, e.g., http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/58572/ (“Few Russians in positions of power dare to openly criticise Putin. . . .”); http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6145UJ20100205 (“Putin told the leaders [of his United Russia party] to warn voters of the consequences of voting for untried opposition parties. United Russia must always explain that ‘proper and well organized leaders are always capable of solving any problems and that in the absence of such leaders, anarchy prevails,’ he said.”)
One of the “untried opposition parties” to which Putin was referring is former World Chess Champion—many people consider him the greatest chess player of all time—Garry Kasparov’s “The Other Russia,” a coalition that opposes Putin’s government. See http://www.theotherrussia.org/ Indeed, Kasparov has vowed to “restore democracy” to Russia by toppling Putin, of whom he is an outspoken critic.
Kasparov has said: “An anti-democratic regime can be neither reformed nor modernized; it can only be dismantled. All the hope that goes into finding a way to somehow reform or perfect the current system is in vain. It’s impossible, because the essence of the system will remain the same.” See http://www.theotherrussia.org/2010/02/03/kasparov-russias-european-choice/ He adds: “After a year and a half of [Dmitry] Medvedev’s tenure as president of Russia, Putin’s authoritarian regime has only become more severe.” See id.
 See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Relations_with_.22oligarchs.22 (e.g., the criminal prosecution and imprisonment of Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, president of Yukos oil company, as payback for his support of Putin’s opponents); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Khodorkovsky
 See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Domestic_terrorism_accusations (“The chain of command was as follows: Putin (former director of the secret service, future president) – Patrushev (Putin’s successor as director of the secret service) – secret service General German Ugryumov (director of the counter-terrorism department). Maxim Lazovsky (the owner of Lanako, the company that employed the secret service agents behind the 1994-5 terrorist attacks) and Lieutenant-Colonel Abubakar were two secret service operatives directly responsible for the practical organization of the bombings.” [Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky, "The Age of Assassins. The Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin," Gibson Square Books, London, 2008, p. 106]); see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Putin
 See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Domestic_terrorism_accusations; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowing_up_Russia:_Terror_from_within and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubyanka_Criminal_Group; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Litvinenko
 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Yushchenko#Dioxin_poisoning (“On September 27, 2009 Yushchenko said in an interview . . . that the testimony of the three men who were at a dinner in 2004 at which he believes he was poisoned were staying in Russia. Ukrainian prosecutors said Russia has refused to extradite one of the men, the former deputy chief of Ukraine’s security service, Volodymyr Satsyuk, because he holds both Russia and Ukrainian citizenship.”)
 See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Chechen_War; see also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechnya#Human_rights (“In 2006 Human Rights Watch reported that pro-Moscow Chechen forces under the effective command of President Ramzan Kadyrov, as well as federal police personnel, used torture to get information about separatist forces. ‘If you are detained in Chechnya, you face a real and immediate risk of torture. And there is little chance that your torturer will be held accountable,’ said Holly Cartner, Director Europe and Central Asia division of HRW.”); http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/11/12/chechnya-research-shows-widespread-and-systematic-use-torture; see id. (“On July 1, 2009, Amnesty International released a detailed report covering the human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation against Chechnyan citizens. Among the most prominent features was that those abused had no method of redress against assaults, ranging from kidnapping to torture, while those responsible were never held accountable. This lead to the conclusion that Chechnya was being ruled without law, being run into further devastating destabilization.”); see http://www.naegele.com/documents/AmnestyInternational-RussianFederation-Rulewithoutlaw.pdf
 See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Allegations_of_political_assassinations_and_muzzling_of_reporters (“On October 7, 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who ran a campaign exposing corruption in the Russian army and its conduct in Chechnya, and a strong critic of Putin and the FSB, whom she had accused of trying to set up a Soviet-style dictatorship, was killed. She was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow.”); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Politkovskaya
The Federal Security Service—or FSB—is the main domestic security agency of the Russian Federation, and the successor agency of the dreaded Soviet-era Cheka, NKVD and KGB.
 See, e.g., http://news.oneindia.in/2010/02/08/mumof-vladimir-putins-love-childvanishes.html (“The woman who gave birth to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s love child[, Russian gymnast, Alina Kabayeva,] is said to have vanished”); see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alina_Kabayeva#Marriage_controversy; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Putin#Family_and_personal_life
 See also, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/12/georgia (Obama adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has described Putin as “following a course that is horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s”)