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 Post subject: 20 years without the Soviet Union
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 29 Mar 2011 12:51 
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Mikhail Gorbachev the Traitor
A Reformer with a human face

17 March 2011 Moscow times - by By Boris Kagarlitsky

The 80th birthday of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev this month sparked a sudden but understandable surge of nostalgia for perestroika among the liberal intelligentsia. Their praises for the last Soviet president sounded more like a rationalization from people who share responsibility along with Gorbachev for the collapse of the country.

Speeches defending Gorbachev sound just as unconvincing as the criticism directed against him. Some blame him for the collapse of the Soviet Union, while others argue that it was unavoidable for objective reasons and that therefore no individual is to blame. If that were true, would it be fair to blame Stalin for the wholesale terror and murder committed by his regime, or to blame Leonid Brezhnev for the economic stagnation that prevailed while he was leader? Conversely, it would be incorrect to attribute Nikita Khrushchev for the thaw in U.S.-Soviet relations.

The Soviet Union did not disappear because of a great flood or a major earthquake. Somebody was at the helm making decisions and setting a political course. Politicians should be responsible for their actions. But do politicians alone bear responsibility?

Read more: Gorbachev the Traitor


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"The people might sometimes excuse or even justify the deeds of malefactors, but it never forgives a traitor. " [surprised.gif]

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

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 Post subject: Re: Gorbachev the Traitor
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 31 Mar 2011 12:47 
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Mikhail Gorbachev

In 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev took power, was the time that the badly needed reforms took off.

Perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) liberalised both the economy and the political system. Gorbachev’s goal was to build a better form of socialism. Gradually, however, the process of democratisation took on a pace of its own.

Gorbachev made it clear, at the time, that he would not intervene in the internal affairs of the Eastern European satellite states, which prompted widespread protest movements that brought about the collapse of unpopular communist governments which had previously relied on the threat of Soviet military support. At the same time, pressure was growing among the republics of the USSR for greater independence and in 1990 the Russia republic within the USSR (headed by Yeltsin) declared its independence in a symbolic gesture.

In August 1991, a coup was mounted against Gorbachev by a group of Communist Party hard-liners seeking to stop the fragmentation of the USSR. Yeltsin supported Gorbachev and the coup was defeated. But when Gorbachev returned to Moscow from the south where he had been under house arrest, it became clear that Yeltsin held the political initiative, and many of the other republics of the USSR hastened to declare their independence.

The dissolution of the USSR on 31 December 1991 left Gorbachev with no option but to resign as its President.

Many Russians remember the 1990s as years in which pensioners became impoverished, while a few men became billionaires through acquiring huge chunks of the country's natural resources.

Despite some contradictory evaluations Mikhail Gorbachev's actions led to total reform of the USSR, which is today hard to overestimate. During the perestroika period the Iron Curtain fell, market economy and business structures were established, censorship disintegrated and the population finally had an opportunity to discover the big wide world for themselves.

Of course we should not forget the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the events of Black January and the complex economic situation that led to foodstuffs disappearing from the shops and empty shelves.

In Moscow you might find it harder to come across Gorbachev fans. Many Russians still blame him for the Soviet collapse. For them he is not a hero. No wonder his main birthday bash was being held in London at the Albert Hall yesterday!

Whatever we may think about the achievements and failures of Mikhail Gorbachev, only history can show later, he was definitely Not a "traitor", as the writer of the above article called him! [bad.gif]

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Mikhail Gorbachev's birthday gala and charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London
for last leader of the Soviet Union's 80th birthday

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 Post subject: Re: Gorbachev the Traitor
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 10 Apr 2011 08:10 
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It is my opinion that instead of labelling Gorbachev a traitor he should have been labelled a Hero.

The reason that I say this is because as see it had it not have been for Gorby's reforms and restructuring Russia would have suffered a total collapse and not the partial collapse that Russia went through during th "Perestroika era".
The reason that I say this is because Russia (Soviet Russia) was writing checks that it could not cover or in other words the Soviet leaders that preceded Gorby were involved in a race that not only they could not win they actually could not even afford to participate in.

With regards to the almost last line in the original article
Quote:
but that when the troubles came, he snuck away from the battlefield and went home to have dinner.
He did not sneak away, he was sent packing even after he was sent packing he still attempted to remain in the frame but was denied the opportunity. ImageFrom Wikipedia
Quote:
Following his resignation and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev remained active in Russian politics. During the early years of the post-Soviet era, he expressed criticism at the reforms carried out by Russian president Boris Yeltsin. When Yeltsin called a referendum for 25 April 1993 in an attempt to achieve even greater powers as president, Gorbachev did not vote and instead called for new presidential elections.

Following a failed run for the presidency in 1996, Gorbachev established the Social Democratic Party of Russia, a union between several Russian social democratic parties. He resigned as party leader in May 2004 following a disagreement with the party's chairman over the direction taken in the 2003 election campaign. The party was later banned in 2007 by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation due to its failure to establish local offices with at least 500 members in the majority of Russian regions, which is required by Russian law for a political organization to be listed as a party. Later that year, Gorbachev founded a new political party, called the Union of Social-Democrats. In June 2004, Gorbachev represented Russia at the funeral of Ronald Reagan.

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 Post subject: 20 years without the Soviet Union
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 27 Jul 2011 10:07 
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20 years without the Soviet Union
Three chapters of history - the presidency as a mirror of reality

In January 1991, events in the Baltic region triggered a countdown to the end of the USSR
The nuclear superpower dominating half the world ceased to exist within a year.


Yeltsin and Gorbachev: This town ain't big enough for the both

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U.S.S.R. President Mikhail Gorbachev (right) and Chairman of the R.S.F.S.R. Supreme Council Boris Yeltsin (left)

Twenty years ago, on April 24, 1991, a law was enacted in Russia mandating that the president of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) be elected by a general, direct, free, fair and secret vote, only to sow the seeds of the great political rivalry between two overlapping presidents: Boris Yeltsin, the president of the RSFSR, and Mikhail Gorbachev, the president of the USSR.

One capital city was certainly not big enough for the both of them. The role of "great men" in history is greater than vulgar Marxists would have you believe, but the fact is that whoever became the first Russian president - even a loyal Gorbachev supporter - would have come into conflict with the Soviet president over how to divide up power, ministries and revenue.

This would have weakened the union government and strengthened the Russian republic unless Gorbachev abolished the new Russian presidency. Two heads of state, with one state being part of the other, would never be able to coexist peacefully. A diarchy would have been the only possible model of government.

Vladimir Lenin, one of the greatest political thinkers of all times, wrote about the "still weak and embryonic, but real and growing" government that formed alongside the Provisional Government after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Two power centers in one country inevitably leads to competition if not all-out civil war. A diarchy inevitably tears a country apart.

Moving from theory to the specific situation that emerged in 1991, Russia indeed had two power centers, two sides locked in conflict.

The RSFSR's governing institutions were "real and growing" and no longer "weak and embryonic." They were pushing to give precedence to the Russian republic's laws and jurisdiction over those of the Soviet Union.

The only thing that the "junior" leader lacked was an official status equal to his "senior." The law on the president offered a path to greater legitimacy, conferred by a general election. The law actually made Yeltsin more important than Gorbachev who bypassed the "general, direct and fair vote" part.

Did Russian lawmakers, the "people's deputies," realize what empowering the president of the Russian republic would lead to? Part of them certainly did, and they acted deliberately, pinning their hopes on Yeltsin as the only possible candidate. But there were others who voted for that law although they were not Yeltsin's supporters.

They did not have to write the law from scratch. Earlier the Congress of People's Deputies called a referendum on establishing a presidency in Russia. Ironically, that referendum was held on the same day as the national referendum on preserving the Soviet Union. The Russian presidency was supported by an overwhelming majority - not just a majority of the ballots cast, but a majority of the eligible voters.

Unlike the Soviet referendum, this decision on the Russian presidency was faithfully implemented, driving yet another nail into the Soviet Union's coffin. Some of the lawmakers who voted for the presidency law on April 24 didn't know what they were doing. But the process was already underway. In fact, it began on June 12, 1990, when over 1,000 lawmakers approved the Declaration of National Sovereignty of the largest and most important of the Soviet republics.

Naturally, a sovereign state like the RSFSR could not function without a full-fledged leader. A general election was called, and Yeltsin's threw his hat into the ring. But that is another story, one that merits its own article.

The new law was very concise and gave the president very limited powers. He was not authorized to dissolve the legislature (the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Soviet) while those bodies had the authority to remove him from office, albeit by a two-thirds majority and after a Constitutional Court ruling - a reasonable separation of powers, similar to the United States' strong presidential republic.

The law on the Russian president was written by experienced lawyers who tried to think ahead and set up an effective system of checks and balances between the different branches of government. But in reality, they planted several time bombs in this structure, which were destined to blow the upper echelons sky high.

From the start, these checks and balances were too constricting for Boris Yeltsin, the man the system was tailored to. He tried for a while to press the lawmakers to expand his powers before he dissolved the legislature by force in the fall of 1993. This historic law survived just two and a half years.

But that all lay in the future. In April 1991, Boris Yeltsin and his growing team felt strong and optimistic. They were planning their election campaign and were determined to win.

22:14 26/04/2011 RIA Novosti political commentator Nikolai Troitsky - Photo Sergey Gunnev

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 Post subject: Re: Gorbachev the Traitor
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 27 Jul 2011 12:55 
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Lessons From Gorbachev


02 March 2011 - Moscow times, Editorial


Every healthy society seeks wisdom from its elders, and Russia is no exception. In this spirit, as we celebrate the 80th birthday of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev today, we would do well to take heed of his legacy.

The paradox of the Gorbachev era continues. While the West generally united in its appreciation for his role in ending the Cold War and the Soviet empire, at home feelings remain mixed. The generation that accompanied him through the demise of their superpower position still doesn’t forgive him for his inability to hold the Soviet Union together and the resulting economic and ethnic rubble that has yet to be fully sifted through and carried away.

After Gorbachev left office, when reflecting on his downfall, he said, “We realized the system could not be reformed.” Though this probably sank in while he was under house arrest by his guards at his dacha in the Crimea as the August 1991 coup unfolded, Gorbachev’s civilized approach deserves at least some credit for the fact that the Communist Party and the Soviet Union ended with little bloodshed. There are several aspects of his career worthy of emulation by Russia’s current leadership.

On the international front, beyond ending the Brezhnev Doctrine and withdrawing from Afghanistan, probably the most significant and under-

recognized achievement of Gorbachev’s reign was the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in December 1987, by which Moscow and Washington for the first time agreed to eliminate an entire class of existing nuclear weapons that were a serious threat to Europe and a major sticking point in relations.

The new era of strategic relations that followed has seen a generation of officials on both sides working cooperatively toward common goals.

Looking back at his domestic record, the three mantras of Gorbachev’s tenure — perestroika, khozraschyot and glasnost — can serve as hints on how to progress.

While perestroika was primarily a tenuous effort to battle stagnation by tweaking aspects of the centrally planned economy, a side effect was the replacement of leaders and managers across the country with younger cadres based on merit and experience — not, as per the current fashion, according to what city they were born in or whether they attended the same school or served in the same agency as the senior leaders.

Khozraschyot, a term that came from the New Economic Policy of 1921-29 and translates roughly as a call to keep expenses in line with profitability, was originally designed to promote light industry over heavy industry. Gorbachev used it in an attempt to combat waste in large state enterprises. Considering the fraud and loose spending on projects and salaries in state corporations today, and the resulting strangulation of small and medium-sized business, a little more khozraschyot culture would go a long way to improving the modernization effort.

Glasnost, in which the state learned not to fear public exposure of the nation’s ills, marked the birth of real and unfettered journalism in the country — though it was short-lived. After his fall, Gorbachev helped found one of the country’s few functioning opposition newspapers, Novaya Gazeta. In light of Russia’s horrific track record of having more deported, beaten and killed journalists than any other Group of 20 country, a reinvigoration of glasnost is also something worthy of consideration by the current leadership.

Perhaps most important is the legacy of Gorbachev the man and leader. He honored his wife Raisa’s intellect and beauty in public and in private. He showed the flexibility to adapt to the new millennium by energetically promoting values of respect for people through his words and his nonprofit Gorbachev Foundation. As of late he has spoken up on behalf of fundamental democratic principles and the need to right obvious wrongs.

Gorbachev is an example of a politician who left his position peacefully and continues to work in his own way to improve his country.

It is said that one of the main drivers for U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s pursuit of peace was his concern about what legacy he would leave. We can only hope that those now walking the corridors of power in the White House and the Kremlin might pause today to think about what wisdom we will be able to glean from them when they are venerable pensioners.

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 Post subject: Mikhail Gorbachev - a Reformer with a human face
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 27 Jul 2011 13:19 
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Mikhail Gorbachev - a Reformer with a human face

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Most reformers are not objects of love and devotion in their own countries. Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms actually caused the collapse of his country, is a good example. But around the world, and especially in Europe, he is seen as a positive figure. Whatever your view of Mikhail Gorbachev, who turns 80 on March 2, the fact is he changed the world.

Playing it safe

Gorbachev's actions transformed his country beyond recognition. Yet, he is remembered more for what he didn't do at defining moments of his career: the beginning and the end.

Gorbachev was elected general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee in April 1985. But unlike his predecessors, Leonid Brezhnev and Konstantin Chernenko, he was not content to go with the flow. He wanted more than the cosmetic changes to the system that Yuri Andropov offered. He was determined to fundamentally reform the system because he understood that the country could not go on living as it used to live.

In the beginning, however, Gorbachev's intentions were not apparent. The winds of change were not very strong at that time, and Gorbachev even seemed determined to shelter the system from them, something he was criticized for by progressive intellectuals. But the reformer was playing a more complex game. Before he made his move, he had to consider the political reality and the balance of power in the upper echelons of the Soviet government.

The general secretary was not an all-powerful leader who could do as he pleased. After Stalin's brutal dictatorship and Khrushchev's unbridled "voluntarism," the men at the top of the party and the government sought to protect themselves by making the party boss the first among equals. It would be the collective leadership of the Politburo rather than one man that ruled the Soviet Union going forward.

The Politburo had its own checks and balances, and factions. It took Gorbachev several years to navigate this dangerous terrain, cautiously squeezing out enemies and rigid party doctrinarians who insisted, for one, that the CPSU platform spoke in no uncertain terms about "the advantages of socialism." At the same time, he was gradually building a base of supporters of meaningful change.

Nothing compelled Gorbachev to embark on his program of economic reforms, and even less the political reforms. Quite the contrary. For a man in his position, it would have been much easier to avoid any sudden movements. He had attained the highest position in the state and his authority - while limited - was not disputed by other Politburo members. He had no rivals to fend off. He could have reigned in peace, without getting off the couch. He could have played it safe, and the inertia of the system would have carried him a long way.

The president and the party

But Gorbachev chose a different path. He refused to settle for a secure position in the Politburo as the highest party boss and the chairman of the presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, a symbolic president of the USSR. He chose to become a real president. To do this, he set about reviving - or actually, building from the ground up - the structures of the Soviets, which had been treated as mere window dressing for party bodies. Gorbachev placed the Congress of People's Deputies and the USSR Supreme Soviet, which he chaired, at the top of this structure.

He was building an alternative to the vertical power structure of the party which ruled one sixth of the Earth's surface. He moved from the Congress rostrum right into the chair of the president, which was no longer a figurehead but a position of real power and legitimacy. He was elected president by more than two thousand deputies, many of whom had been elected by voters. In other words, they were representatives of the people rather than the envoys of obedient party bodies or members of the party's Central Committee or the politburo, who were accountable to no one.

Gorbachev would have achieved even greater legitimacy if he had called for nationwide elections, which he would have won easily. But such a massive undertaking seemed unnecessary to him, and there is little point in indulging in alternative history now.
As president, Gorbachev had room to maneuver. Some may say that he was guided exclusively by his lust for power. Show me a politician who doesn't lust for power! What is important is why he sought power. Obviously, it was not for his own comfort.
Gorbachev took great risks. Although he held on to the post of general secretary, he considerably weakened the party's power. At Gorbachev's urging, the Congress of People's Deputies removed the notorious sixth article from the Constitution, depriving the communist party of its "leading and guiding force."

Gorbachev rocked the boat so hard that it sank. He failed in his role as captain. The Soviet Union could not exist without the supporting framework of the party. Clearly, this was not the end the first and the last president of the USSR had envisioned. But by launching perestroika, he let the genie out of the bottle. He just couldn't even imagine what this would lead to.

A graceful exit

Gorbachev wanted to reform socialism. But it became clear in the process that the system was fundamentally flawed, and that reform entailed destruction. It was not the specific reforms Gorbachev sought that brought the system down, but the fact that he pursued reforms at all. The tectonic processes his reforms awakened proved to be too strong.

Despite the risk, Gorbachev chose to press on with his reform program. He does not regret his decision, even though it ruined his political career.

Gorbachev deserves credit for his graceful exit from politics. When Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich simply pulled out from under him the remnants of the Soviet Union that, by then, existed only on paper and in the minds of few fanatics, Gorbachev did not resist. And he certainly could have tried to cling to power, like Gaddafi now. But he did not even consider this option. He shuddered at the thought of civil war.
This is one of Gorbachev's greatest achievements. He was a reformer but by no means a revolutionary. He deserves recognition for this and for all his good intentions.

It would be inaccurate to say that Gorbachev "gave" us our freedom. But he was the man who ended censorship, for instance. Thanks to his efforts, freedom was given room to flourish. But he had no control over how ordinary citizens and politicians used their newfound freedom.

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Mikhail Gorbachev - a Reformer with a human face - Today




21:40 02/03/2011 RIA Novosti political commentator Nikolai Troitsky

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 Post subject: Re: 20 years without the Soviet Union
Post Number:#7  PostPosted: 27 Jul 2011 13:49 
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The straw that broke the Soviet Union's back

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U.S.S.R. President Mikhail Gorbachev congratulating Boris Yeltsin on the latter's inauguration as Russian President.

The June 1991 Russian presidential election was, arguably, the straw that broke the Soviet Union's back, even if its organizers had no such intention.

Yet perhaps it was also simply the logical conclusion of a clash that can be best described by the Russian saying "you can't have two bears in one den." In this case, it was two presidents in one country and, ultimately, even one city. In theory, it wouldn't have mattered who won: any president of the former RSFSR would have been hurled into an inevitable conflict with the president of the Soviet Union.

The only candidate with any real chance of winning in those days was Boris Yeltsin, who was already on a collision course with Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last president of the Soviet Union. All the other candidates trailed far behind, with very little chance of making it to the runoff, and, in point of fact, they competed for votes much less with Yeltsin than amongst themselves.

But let us recall some of the other candidates who took part in that race, whether as a result of their own decision or someone else's encouragement, and see if there's something to be learned.

Competing amongst themselves

Nikolai Ryzhkov, a former Soviet prime minister who had retired from the post by the time of the elections, was expected to become Yeltsin's biggest challenger. As one of Gorbachev's men, he enjoyed the support of all those who wished to preserve the Soviet Union - although Yeltsin was hardly trying to break up the country.

Ex-Interior Minister Vadim Bakatin was another Gorbachev associate who ran in the election. Other contenders included Aman Tuleyev, then the chief government official of the Siberian region of Kemerovo, and General Albert Makashov, a member of the Soviet Union's parliament.

These four candidates were all similarly conventional, with only a few cosmetic differences.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, by contrast, was a new kid on the block. An emerging ultranationalist leader, he entered the race thanks largely to his idiosyncratic and inflammatory rhetoric. His participation was the only unexpected twist of that election campaign, and his finish in third place proved to be its only real sensation.

"We were well aware for whom that post was being created..."

The rest of the campaign went ahead as planned by Yeltsin's team. Their candidate won in the polls hands-down and with a wide margin. Such an outcome was surprising to few.

"Introducing the office of the President of the Russian Federation was an imperative impossible to ignore," Ilya Konstantinov, a former Russian MP, recalls. "This was something called for by the current political situation as well as by public sentiment. In a preceding March referendum, voters came out in favor of the preservation of the Soviet Union along with the establishment of the Russian presidency. We were well aware for whom that post was being created, and we knew that Russia's [first] president would be Yeltsin. He was a powerful, domineering man. A very strong leader. That's precisely what he was valued for. That was part of his charisma. "

Konstantinov became a vehement opponent of Yeltsin soon after the elections. But in his political analyses, he tries to avoid any bias.

At the time, the Russian Federation's new leadership already had its own television channel, which they would use proactively in Yeltsin's presidential campaign. But the man hardly needed any spin doctors to help him win the presidency. In contrast, his savvy choice of a running mate proved a welcome aid. The nominee, Colonel Alexander Rutskoi, Hero of the Soviet Union, an Afghan War veteran, had just declared the creation of a new parliamentary faction. Paradoxically called Communists for Democracy, it led to the split of the Communists of Russia, a group opposed to Yelstin.

Victim of the elections

Bringing Rutskoi onto the team helped broaden Yeltsin's support. Ryzhkov responded by taking on General Boris Gromov, the famous Afghan War veteran.

Rutskoi won the 1991 election as Yelstin's running mate, but his subsequent political career was not as successful as his competitors'.

Gromov and Tuleyev serve as governors to this day, and Ryzhkov is a member of parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, while Zhirinovsky is a deputy speaker at the State Duma, the federal legislature's lower chamber.

At one time, Rutskoi also served as a governor. He was made the leader of the Kursk Region after spending several months in a Moscow detention center on charges of instigating public unrest on October 3-4, 1993. Makashov was another politician charged in the case. Both men were subsequently pardoned by the State Duma.

In some sense, Rutskoi was a victim of the 1991 presidential vote. He found himself discarded shortly after he had performed his role as a campaign booster. The colonel-turned-general rebelled in response, and his rebellion led to the abolition of the Russian vice-presidency.

Yeltsin's political career, meanwhile, was quickly moving toward its culmination. The wide public support he enjoyed in the summer of 1991 declined over time, and his reelection five years later was a hard-won victory. But that is another story altogether...

12:42 15/06/2011 By RIA Novosti political commentator Nikolai Troitsky

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