Is Putin Playing Obama?

, Kate Powley, Leave a comment

President Obama’s policy toward Russia may be encouraging Russian President Vladimir Putin’s views on the weakening of Obama’s presidency.

“The first 100 days tell us all we need to know (about an administration) and (Putin’s) doesn’t look good to me,” Karen Dawisha, a professor at Miami University of Ohio, said at the Heritage Foundation on May 14, 2012.

Recently President Obama changed the location of the G8 summit to accommodate Putin, who then informed the president that he was too busy with his presidency to attend.

“This is after Putin said that he is not coming to the NATO summit in Chicago and the G8 summit was moved to accommodate his request … Which raises the question of who is really in charge,” host speaker and Heritage Foundation’s Senior Research Fellow Ariel Cohen said in a lecture at the same symposium.

“I’m not at all surprised at this. It was a deliberate slap in the face both to the G8 leaders … and personally to Obama,” Russian commentator Konstantin von Eggert said via skype from Moscow in at the May 14 conference.

Eggert is the host of Kommersant FM radio. “It’s not because Putin is afraid to explain anything that he doesn’t come to the G8. I think it’s a deliberate way of showing the public and the Western public that he does not consider the West a priority.”

“Obama’s been leaning backwards as much as he could to accommodate Putin of course,” von Eggert alleges. As for President Obama, “From Putin’s point of view he’s weakening and  was he’s being treated as such,” von Eggert avers.

“If you look objectively at what’s happening with Russia there is no way you can say democracy is there,” Dawisha said at Heritage.

Putin’s administration has already detained more than 500 protesters, leaving others severely beaten.

A proposal in Congress, the Magnitsky Act, named after the late Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, would literally call out corrupt officials in Russia and around the world.

Neither the Obama nor Putin Administration wants to take such steps.

But Dawisha believes naming names would be a vital move to improve human rights practices and corruption within Russia.

“What needs to happen with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) as with Magnitsky, those individuals who are involved in corruption should be named … what do we lose by saying the people who are involved in this corruption,” Dawisha said. “So I would increase the Magnitsky legislation by strengthening FCPA so it doesn’t just say Russian officials, as it does now, but naming and shaming them.”



Kate Powley is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.

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