For some, he’s a tyrant, a dictator, a thug, a narcissist, a thief, a murderer. For others, he’s a savior, a friend, a king, and simply an angel. He’s without any doubt, the most controversial and most discussed man in today’s world. This man is… Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia.
Nowadays, Putin manages to put up with being a widely admired and a widely hated person at the same time. He’s definitely a very fascinating figure to study and analyze. Which is why so many people around the world are building their theories about the weird, aggressive, delusional or insane behavior of “Pootie-Poot”.
Just a month ago, Pentagon released a 2008 study that concluded the Russian President’s “neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy” and that Putin probably had Asperger’s syndrome. Before that, he was ‘diagnosed’ with “pleonexia”, which is “the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others”.
Some mainstream media outlets conducted their own studies in which they compared Putin to Napoleon. The reason for that kind of comparison is that the French general was known for his small stature, and the study argues that males tend to overcompensate for their lack of height by an aggressive behavior.
Let’s face it: the events in the Eastern Europe, particularly in Ukraine, over the past year have forced us all, an entire world, to rack our brains over Putin’s intentions, motivations and desires. And while former President of the United States George W Bush managed to have a ‘bromance’ with Vladimir Putin, the subsequent leaders haven’t been that enthusiastic about even thinking of doing something like that. So what to do with a person if you can’t understand him at all, no matter how hard you try?
Is Putin a Thief?
The legend goes that one day in June 2005 Vladimir Putin saw a diamond-studded Super Bowl ring worth $25,000 on the finger of the owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft, who was in Russia for a meeting of business leaders. Putin asked if he could see it, tried it on, and said: “I could kill someone with this”. And then, allegedly, he put it in his pocket, drew his security guards around him, and walked away.
Three months after that, in September 2005, Putin was shown a glass replica of a Kalashnikov rifle filled with vodka during his visit of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. According to the journalist and author Masha Gessen, Putin nodded to one of his guards, who without any hesitation, placed it into his pocket.
With his today’s 86% approval rating, Vladimir Putin was viewed by the majority of Russians as a ‘miracle’ when he became the President, especially when compared to his predecessors from the times of the chaotic 1990s.
It was reported in 2014 that German chancellor Angela Merkel told the President of the United States Barack Obama that Putin was living “in an another world”. That phrase was commonly interpreted as “Putin is weird, ridiculous, insane”, but why not take those words literally? Putin lives in a different world, and his worldview is totally different compared to the rest of the world. And for many Russians, Putin’s worldview – whatever that is – is their worldview, too.
Furthermore, not only Russian people support “Pootie-Poot”, but they also take every bit of criticism addressed toward him too personally. Their personalities are basically crushed by the ego of their idealized and narcissistic leader, and any affront of his majesty is perceived as an attack on the entire Russian population and all of its members. The common Western opinion is that too much power over these 14 years has changed his brain to a point where his ego and country are one.
“Who would be fooled by this guy’s bullshit?”
Let’s look at the things that infuriate Mr. Putin the most. First of all, the mere sight of NATO troops near the Russian borders, which doesn’t just infuriate him, it actually scares him. Second of all, seeing Ukraine, Georgia, or any other post-Soviet state flirt with NATO. And, of course, there is homosexuality. That definitely infuriates him and drives him nuts.
We all remember those pictures of Putin ‘having fun’ with tigers and riding horses shirtless in Tuva that caught public eye’s attention in Russia as well as the entire world. However, Putin then admitted that the tiger stunt was staged. “Sure, the leopard had been sedated,” he said. “But what’s important is that I was the one who came up with the whole leopards project! And the tigers,” Putin told the journalist Masha Gessen.
TV comedian and newsman Jon Stewart presented his viewers with the tales of Putin’s Crimea venture, which he entitled “blatant, naked aggression … or at the very least, disturbingly shirtless aggression.” “Who would be fooled by this guy’s bullshit?” he asked. Well, apparently, Mr. Stewart, 86 percent of Russian people are.
Vladimir Putin, who has controlled Russia for 14 years, is believed to be the richest man in Europe with his net worth as high as $200 billion. Although Putin has repeatedly dismissed any allegations that he has accumulated a large fortune, officially he owns 2 apartments, 2 GAZ Volga cars, 1 garage, and 1 caravan.
However, it is important to keep in mind that there’s always a risk of overestimating Putin. Washington, fearing an escalation of Russian-Ukrainian conflict, has been way too cautious not to ‘poke the bear’ by providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Despite the clear evidence that Russia is still sending its troops and heavy military equipment to aid separatist forces in the eastern Ukraine even after the second Minsk ceasefire protocol agreed to on 12 February 2015, it has been reported today that Obama decided not to supply lethal aid to Ukraine.
The German ambassador to the US, Peter Wittig, said in an Associated Press interview that Obama agreed to hold off during his White House meeting in February with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He said Obama had decided with Merkel that it was important “to give some space for those diplomatic, political efforts that were underway”.