The Western enthusiasm for Mr Putin is difficult to understand. As befits a spy, his track record is almost invisible. He worked briefly for one of the country’s best-known reformers, Anatoly Sobchak. But his successful career in the FSB (as the KGB is now known) suggests that liberalism is not always his prime concern.
Only on one issue can we see just where Mr Putin stands. Very depressing it is, too. His conduct of the war in Chechnya – where civilians are as flies to wanton boys, killed for the Kremlin leaders’ sport – has been a cynical disgrace. There is mounting evidence, too, that the lethal bombings that provided popular support for the assault on Chechnya may have been the work of agents provocateurs.
The Independent, editorial, “Mr Putin Does Not Deserve Praise Unless He is a Catalyst for Change”, 28 march 2000, http://www.russialist.org/archives/4204.html