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There is a story from out of the year 1990 that somehow keeps getting into my head.  From out of political exile, a loud blustery Russian named Boris Yeltsin was coming into power in the Soviet Union, and promising many changes.  And  a shorter, quieter-spoken covert guy who came out of an even bigger nowhere was standing by Yeltsin’s side, former KGB Lt. Colonel Vladimir Putin,.

At first, Putin looked like a proverbial Stan Laurel to Yeltsin’s Oliver Hardy.

But people knew Boris Yeltsin, and that helped people trust Putin (of all things!).  Even in the face of the most severe Soviet stigma and exile, Yeltsin was a man who said what he thought and did what he said to bring about a new era in  Russia.  At a time when the cause of democracy was barely confined to Russian artists and literary people, Yeltsin also brought in some heavy lifters to the movement.  That’s because artists and literary people have never influenced the greater population of Russians unless some leg-breakers in the cause enter for a final convincing argument.

So Vladimir Putin was the major heavy lifter and leg-breaker that Yeltsin felt would fend off the thugs that wanted to maintain in Russia a Stalinist/Brezhnev gangster dictatorship.

Let’s look closer at Vladimir Putin at that moment.

He had recently been retired by the KGB as many lieutenant colonels are who are not promoted to full colonel.   It also happens in America (it happened to my father, American Air Force Lt. Colonel William Sharp).  To be promoted to full colonel, there has to be a trust extended that opens up the military’s inner circle to the candidate.  It seems that even in the KGB where Putin seemed to perform extremely effectively in recruiting a spy force for the Soviet Union, Putin was not trusted enough by his superior officers to enter the KGB’s inner circle.

This can happen even if the candidate for further promotion performs brilliantly, and often it happens especially in the face of brilliant work.  In Russia, performing well in the military can have reverse results if you perform so well that you start to scare the hell out of the other people who share power.

In Putin’s case, it seemed that his dedication and skill in building a Soviet spy force led to his developing something like his own private army within the KGB.  And when Putin left the KGB, he took his own little gangster army with him to team up with the emerging political leadership team of Boris Yeltsin.

Apparently Putin had several special skills that helped him build his little private army.

One recruiting tool was the traditional KGB skill of blackmail.  The KGB is always happy to blackmail any foreign exchange student or even the most minor diplomat or soldier into doing whatever spying that can be done.  Another recruiting tool into treasonous commitment is of course bribery, and on top of all this is a form of insidious flattery that comes off to the dupe as a form of long-deserved recognition.

There is no question right now that the number one person Putin and his ribald nameless gang would like to draw into their cause is the new American president, Donald Trump , using any and all of their old tricks.

Let’s go back to the year 2014, long before Trump had even slightly entered Putin’s picture, for what we had concluded about Putin then in one of my Beacon articles at that time:

In Russian politics, Putin ingratiated himself to the people who mattered and then he was quickly elevated in an opposite manner to how he was glued to his lower-officer’s status in the KGB.  Finally he was handpicked to succeed Boris Yeltsin as president of Russia.  Because of the influence of Yeltsin – who is now going down in history as the only person to be legitimately voted to lead Russia – Putin won election as president.

Originally Putin was limited to the presidential terms of the new Russian constitution, which prohibited a president from serving two consecutive four-year terms in an attempt of rid Russia of its traditional dictators for life.  However, he has favored or bullied enough of the usual suspects in Moscow to change that where he is now certainly a dictator for life, with a typical dictator’s ceremonial vote designed to simply honor him.  Nor has he let any dissident journalists stand in the way of re-establishing his dictatorship.  It is believed he has killed off more dissenting journalists than any other leader in the world – 17 were simply assassinated right out of the picture.  This only came to a significant public light when one of the shot-down journalists who was a woman who was born in New York City, international newspaperwoman and author Anna Politskovskaya.  As Politskovskaya wrote near the end of her life:

“We are hurtling back into a Soviet abyss, into an information vacuum that spells death from our own ignorance. All we have left is the internet, where information is still freely available. For the rest, if you want to go on working as a journalist, it's total servility to Putin. Otherwise, it can be death, the bullet, poison, or trial—whatever our special services, Putin's guard dogs, see fit.”

And now look how Putin has changed since he has taken over Russia as well as the best parts of Georgia and the Ukraine as absolute dictator.

He has gotten rid of his wife, for example, the woman who had put up with all of his years of being unappreciated by the KGB.  Today Putin has entered the realm of the bachelor dictators Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro and Josef Stalin (after Stalin’s wife, understandably, committed suicide.) Putin today doesn’t have the worry about the institution of marriage’s traditional role of humanizing a man, so he can go right into squashing people.  Oh, he owns his entire time now and he uses it to massage his megalomania.  Totally unaccountable and the only free person left now in his own Russia, Putin has opted to spend private nights reading in Stalin’s personal spooky library, eating up Stalin’s favorite books which the “man of steel” personally annotated.  Based on all the new photos of Russia’s premiere/president in partial buff, Putin seems to have also gotten attached to taking steroids.

I think I will stop with this misery right here.  You should know what Putin is doing now without me refreshing you.  As to why I would put a reader through this Pultin-related torture in the first place, it is because I remember my mother recalling the years when many Americans admired Stalin.  Not that anyone really loved Stalin, either.  But at the time, Stalin to many Americans was sort of like Humphrey Bogart – Hollywood’s picture-perfect quiet tough guy -- or Al Capone, a tough little power keg whom they sort of admired as well.   You don’t mess with little Uncle Joe, these Americans would say about Stalin, a bit too admiringly.  Many Americans are also saying that about Putin today.  My feeling, though, is that if we did mess with more with people like Putin, at least there would be a greater chance we could get him to slow down by giving him some headaches and indigestion.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.