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Old 12-19-2007, 11:17 AM   #1
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Time Magazine's Person of the Year

[q]Tuesday, Dec. 04, 2007
A Tsar Is Born
By Adi Ignatius

No one is born with a stare like Vladimir Putin's. The Russian President's pale blue eyes are so cool, so devoid of emotion that the stare must have begun as an affect, the gesture of someone who understood that power might be achieved by the suppression of ordinary needs, like blinking. The affect is now seamless, which makes talking to the Russian President not just exhausting but often chilling. It's a gaze that says, I'm in charge.

This may explain why there is so little visible security at Putin's dacha, Novo-Ogarevo, the grand Russian presidential retreat set inside a birch- and fir-forested compound west of Moscow. To get there from the capital requires a 25-minute drive through the soul of modern Russia, past decrepit Soviet-era apartment blocks, the mashed-up French Tudor-villa McMansions of the new oligarchs and a shopping mall that boasts not just the routine spoils of affluence like Prada and Gucci but Lamborghinis and Ferraris too.

When you arrive at the dacha's faux-neoclassical gate, you have to leave your car and hop into one of the Kremlin's vehicles that slowly wind their way through a silent forest of snow-tipped firs. Aides warn you not to stray, lest you tempt the snipers positioned in the shadows around the compound. This is where Putin, 55, works. (He lives with his wife and two twentysomething daughters in another mansion deeper in the woods.) The rooms feel vast, newly redone and mostly empty. As we prepare to enter his spacious but spartan office, out walk some of Russia's most powerful men: Putin's chief of staff, his ideologist, the speaker of parliament—all of them wearing expensive bespoke suits and carrying sleek black briefcases. Putin, who rarely meets with the foreign press, then gives us 3 1⁄2 hours of his time, first in a formal interview in his office and then upstairs over an elaborate dinner of lobster-and-shiitake-mushroom salad, "crab fingers with hot sauce" and impressive vintages of Puligny-Montrachet and a Chilean Cabernet.

Vladimir Putin gives a first impression of contained power: he is compact and moves stiffly but efficiently. He is fit, thanks to years spent honing his black-belt judo skills and, these days, early-morning swims of an hour or more. And while he is diminutive—5 ft. 6 in. (about 1.7 m) seems a reasonable guess—he projects steely confidence and strength. Putin is unmistakably Russian, with chiseled facial features and those penetrating eyes. Charm is not part of his presentation of self—he makes no effort to be ingratiating. One senses that he pays constant obeisance to a determined inner discipline. The successor to the boozy and ultimately tragic Boris Yeltsin, Putin is temperate, sipping his wine only when the protocol of toasts and greetings requires it; mostly he just twirls the Montrachet in his glass. He eats little, though he twitchily picks the crusts off the bread rolls on his plate.

Putin grudgingly reveals a few personal details between intermittent bites of food: He relaxes, he says, by listening to classical composers like Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky. His favorite Beatles song is Yesterday. He has never sent an e-mail in his life. And while he grew up in an officially atheist country, he is a believer and often reads from a Bible that he keeps on his state plane. He is impatient to the point of rudeness with small talk, and he is in complete control of his own message.

He is clear about Russia's role in the world. He is passionate in his belief that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a tragedy, particularly since overnight it stranded 25 million ethnic Russians in "foreign" lands. But he says he has no intention of trying to rebuild the U.S.S.R. or re-establish military or political blocs. And he praises his predecessors Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev for destroying a system that had lost the people's support. "I'm not sure I could have had the guts to do that myself," he tells us. Putin is, above all, a pragmatist, and has cobbled together a system—not unlike China's—that embraces the free market (albeit with a heavy dose of corruption) but relies on a strong state hand to keep order.

Like President George W. Bush, he sees terrorism as one of the most profound threats of the new century, but he is wary of labeling it Islamic. "Radicals," he says, "can be found in any environment." Putin reveals that Russian intelligence recently uncovered a "specific" terrorist threat against both Russia and the U.S. and that he spoke by phone with Bush about it.

What gets Putin agitated—and he was frequently agitated during our talk—is his perception that Americans are out to interfere in Russia's affairs. He says he wants Russia and America to be partners but feels the U.S. treats Russia like the uninvited guest at a party. "We want to be a friend of America," he says. "Sometimes we get the impression that America does not need friends" but only "auxiliary subjects to command." Asked if he'd like to correct any American misconceptions about Russia, Putin leans forward and says, "I don't believe these are misconceptions. I think this is a purposeful attempt by some to create an image of Russia based on which one could influence our internal and foreign policies. This is the reason why everybody is made to believe...[Russians] are a little bit savage still or they just climbed down from the trees, you know, and probably need to have...the dirt washed out of their beards and hair." The veins on his forehead seem ready to pop. [/q]

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Old 12-19-2007, 11:31 AM   #2
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no emotion - you got that right!

scary horrible little man

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Old 12-19-2007, 11:32 AM   #3
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For all the crowing we (the world in general) do about Bush's administration, it is Putin (and the Russians in general) who is perhaps the largest obstacle to international diplomacy and the elusive "world peace." Russia is trying to reassert what power it thought it once had, to the detriment of the world community at large. They have historically behaved in such unacceptable, amoral ways, and it always surprises me that the Western media, maybe not wishing to be branded as anti-Russian reactionaries, does not comment on it more often. Every international incident out there, and you can bet the Russians have their fingers in it somehow. Iraq/Iran is a no-brainer, but take a close look at Eastern Europe and how Russians are flexing their muscles with respect to Kosovo, for example. They are essentially alone on the world stage in being squarely against independence for the province despite the fact that it is really inevitable. They have a shameful history of meddling in the Balkans and are largely responsible for the war criminals that are still allowed to walk free in Serbia today.

It is easier to criticize the Americans when their actions are more overt, but every time we do so, we should take a closer look at the situation and you can be sure that the Russians are pulling the strings in the opposite direction.

Putin is an irresponsible thug, who is essentially akin to that person who stands at the back of the boat, rocking it. The others then try to bail the boat while he points fingers at them, saying that their action of bailing is what's causing the rocking and worsening the situation. I don't mind him as the pick of person of the year, it's probably fitting. I just have little if any respect for the man or his presidency.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:46 AM   #4
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Not Ron Paul then?
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:57 AM   #5
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Russia may have benefitted from him economically, but in others areas - such as the press, politics and so on - Putin's bringing back the Soviet era.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:13 PM   #6
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I don't get that choice, not all that exciting I think the winner in the poll of the general public was JK Rowling.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:19 PM   #7
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"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

I was able to get a sense of his soul. "
Mr Bush said.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:25 PM   #8
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Originally posted by anitram
Every international incident out there, and you can bet the Russians have their fingers in it somehow
The Russian sphere of influence and action is significantly smaller (economically and militarily) than that of the US. Sitting on one of the world's largest reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals, they feel threatened by the encroachment of US bases, pro-US governments, and missile defense shields in surrounding countries.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:35 PM   #9
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Did you see this article about the 1st Runner Up Al Gore on CNN website?
It's written by BONO!! It's great!
Check it out!
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:48 PM   #10
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Yah Bono did an awesome job, and he pretty much hit the nail on the head. Gore doesn't really need to be presient to be the kind of leader we need in this country.
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Old 12-19-2007, 06:54 PM   #11
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It clearly should have been Petraeus. Why TIME would pick a guy like Putin over a guy like Petreus I'll never know.
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Old 12-19-2007, 06:56 PM   #12
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I agree that Putin is a bit of an odd choice, but Petraeus? C'mon.
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Old 12-19-2007, 07:16 PM   #13
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Originally posted by 2861U2
It clearly should have been Petraeus.
You know they mean here on planet earth, right?
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Old 12-19-2007, 07:16 PM   #14
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They didn't favor Putin over Petraeus, it's about who had more influence, and not only in the US or directly related to the US, and there Putin certainly is in front of Petraeus.

I'm very uncomfortable with him being in power, and now he has made sure to still being in power. And it makes me sad that our former Chancellor is such good friends with Putin.
He is trying to divide East Europe and getting implemented the people in those countries that are like marionettes to him, and he is drifting off the democratic way Russia has taken before.
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Old 12-19-2007, 07:37 PM   #15
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Originally posted by 2861U2
It clearly should have been Petraeus. Why TIME would pick a guy like Putin over a guy like Petreus I'll never know.

it's not a "coolest person of the year" or "awesomest person of the year" or "most politicized speech before congress of the year."

it's the person who's had the most influence on world events. Stalin has been Time's person of the year. it's not an endorsement. it's a statement of fact.

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