As for criticisms of Putin, thats a matter for Russians alone. Britain and America's sinister Establishments need to keep their mouths firmly shut. Perhaps Putin could help with a "regime change" over here in Britain..?!
I hope you realise that while the UK and US are after political and economic advantages over Russia as a primary rival and therefore are worthless in regards to "democratic" advice, I am interest in Russia and the Russian people.
I have long read of the history of Russia and they have not had an easy time... terribly harsh weather, compounded by terribly harsh neighbours has made life hard.
My questions directed at you and others not pro Putin are mainly to understand what you have against him... no he is not me... yes that probably surprised SOC, and I freely admit to being a Putin fan, not for the machismo, but because when I hear him talk I think he is perhaps a little naieve in the sense that he is actually more honest than all the western politicians put together. I think he is very good for Russia and that is why I support him.
Like it or not... the problems with the Soviet Union were many and varied, but the problems that made it fail were primarily financial and largely stemmed from trying to compete with all of the west lead by the US... you might be the biggest country on the planet, but the west is a bunch of colonial and excolonial powers who have plundered the earth for the last few centuries and were in a much better economic and geographic position to compete and win.
Trying to be a superpower is a nice goal, but becoming an economic superpower should be your goal first... and that economic wealth can pay for the best military money can buy.
Continual confrontation with the west is not the way forward, and not all of what is now called the west is your enemy.
I fact I think Germany and France are probably much more likely to be Pro Russian than pro US. Play your cards right and you can add Greece and probably a few other countries in Europe to that list.
America tries to drive wedges between its enemies and rivals and any potentially useful allies... case in point is Afghanistan... the Soviet Union basically armed and trained its neighbour for years, then in the early 1970s the CIA started to interfere and that relationship changed dramatically for the worse.
The west as a whole, with the US at its head is not your friend and I am not suggesting jumping into bed with them... you will wake up next morning out on the street with a sore backside, your wallet empty and your house and car signed over to their names.
On the other hand isolation is what stopped the Soviet Union being like China is now... a manufacturing centre for the world.
You don't have an empire to maintain with lots of freeloading hangers on, you don't have an ideology to sell... and most importantly now you will have WTO access to markets that you have never had before.
Having an experienced leader, who doesn't just do as they are told by the west, yet at the same time is wanting Russia to change, to adapt to the new century to allow progress is a good thing in my opinion.
Russias standing in the world is not actually that bad. Most people outside of Europe and the US see Russia as a potential counter to the lynch mob of the western self appointed world police force. Of course this is not the cold war and Russia wont just intervene to do the right thing... Russia does not have bottomless pockets and is not in the business of regime change either.
The US never let its own morals or any ideas of democracy or freedom get in the way of its foreign policy. US foreign policy is tied to its allies... Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oil, and because of that its international actions don't seem to match the morality it spews during its sermons.
Russia is not tied to that.
The huge irony is that part of the advantage of at least being civil to Russia is that Russia still has ties to most of the countries that the US considers rogue states and a real reset of better relations rather than the actual reset which was basically about the US getting what it wants like transit routes to Afghanistan and ABM systems in Europe.
Russia, as a real, full partner to the west could use its influence to solve a lot of problems the west has with a lot of countries... but how could the west then justify its defence budgets?
2)The economic, social and cultural welfare of Russian citizens( both at home and in other states). OK, Russia is changing from the oligarchs vs poor situation that the idiot Yeltsin and Co caused. But I think most Russians would like to see more.
Very much linked to the economy and international relations.
I think because of the period of Yeltsin till about 2007-2008 when Putin concentrated on paying off foreign debt and building up a reserve... I realise there were promises of spending that never happened... especially for the Military and that caused a lot of frustration and anger, but now Russia is in a much much better position than most of the EU and if you play your cards right and help the correct parts of the EU things might improve faster... the west has largely failed in the promise of "trickle down" where paying CEOs enormous bonus's is supposed to improve everyones situation as when they spend money they create an economy that benefits from their wealth. Problem is that they tend to buy foreign cars and hoard their money to remain rich.
Even here in New Zealand they hide the real issue by talking about raising minimum wage. The solution is not paying people more, the solution is to limit the ratio of the highest salary and the lowest salary in a company. It is cheaper to give the CEO an extra $5000 a year than to give 1,000 workers an extra $10 a year. The problem is that when the people doing the actual work that generates income for the company earn $25 an hour and the three CEOs are on salary packages that include a car, paid holidays, complete medical and dental cover plus $1 million dollars a year or more... the people at the bottom feel like they are trapped in a pyramid scheme... such schemes are outlawed in most countries because when they collapse... as they invariably have to, it is only the people at the top that make any money and everyone else gets screwed.
My question is, if these schemes are illegal, why is the company model also based on a pyramid?
3)Then there's the question of what sort of Russia do people want to see. A European style "democracy"? An authoritarian style centralised government. A European style civil code and welfare state etc. Ofcourse there are many, many options.
Here in New Zealand we are constantly making changes... because this is how they do it in the US or UK or somewhere else. Russia needs to find its own path and decide what sort of society suits it best. Western democracy is teetering, and lots of choices being made show clearly the ideal western model of "market forces" is a load of rubbish... companies are even less trustworthy to control themselves than governments. Governments need to set clear rules and no company can be allowed to get too big to fail.
But I also think Russia needs to think of alliances more - with sensible European countries, her Slavic brothers and sisters, and looking towards Asia.
Not just countries you have ethnic ties to... look at how successful Russias relationship with India has been in the past, yet culturally you have not that much in common. Different can be good too.
Don't be like the US... I like the Star Trek analogy best... in Star Trek the Soviets/communists were depicted as the Klingons... a less civilised almost animal like race but with some technologies superior to human (American) technology... like the cloaking technology. Totally offensive of course, but it clearly showed the American mentality.
The irony is that while in Next Generation the Klingons were integrated into American civilisation with the addition of Worf on the Enterprise crew, they introduced a new race that actually reminds me a lot of the Americans. The Borg. The Borg are a melting pot of every civilisation and technology they have come across, and they are centrally controlled by a central core whose goals are not control of oil, but the assimilation of new technology and power.
Souless, Heartless, with a veneer of morality and righteousness and religion, but basically high tech space zombies at heart.
One thing that does surprise me is that Russia has not dominated in the way I thought it might with technology, in the comercial sphere. I'm sure there's a gigantic amount of tech that could be converted to commercial uses and eclipse even Russia's mineral wealth .
The mineral wealth has to be carefully used to develop tool and design technology, so that Russia can design and tool up high tech high productive factories that can put out quality products made from your own raw materials. The margin on raw materials is much lower than on products and finished goods, so it is more profitable to use the raw materials yourself to create what you need and export the rest as icing on the cake.
BTW thank you for sharing your feelings and opinions on the matter. I hope I haven't offended anyone with my... forthright and sometimes a little eccentric ideas and opinions.