May 18, 2022

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Wars, Lies and Poison: Vladimir Putin’s Reign 6 Defining Moments

Abuse of power, annexation of Crimea, assassination attempts on his enemies and invasion of Ukraine: Since coming to power two decades ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin has largely provoked outrage beyond Russian borders. Look back at his reign in six key moments.

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President until 2036?

In 1999, Putin was nominated by then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The latter will resign a few months later and Putin will be interim president. He was first elected in March 2000 and then re-elected in 2004.

Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

AFP

Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

After failing to run for a third consecutive term, Dmitry Medvedev succeeded Dolby Medvedev as president in 2018. Putin then became prime minister again, a position he held for four years.

After this break, he returned to the Kremlin, this time for a period of six years. Then, in 2020, he amended the constitution to allow for two additional posts. So he can be the head of the federation until 2036.

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“Counter-terrorism operation” in Chechnya

In 1999, terrorist attacks reduced the number of residential towers in Moscow to dust. Then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin confirmed that the Chechens were behind the attacks, although this was never claimed.

Vladimir Putin then unleashed a war or “counter-terrorism operation” against Chechnya, explains Guillaume Sauvé, guest researcher at the Center for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal (CÉRIUM).

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“Putin, who was a complete stranger a few weeks ago, introduced himself [au peuple russe] Like a warrior, “said an expert from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Chechnya, which emerged fragmented from the war, will be rebuilt with money from Moscow, he said.

The Blitzkrieg From Georgia

Reminiscent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2008 in Georgia.

Like Ukraine, Georgia at the time wanted to join NATO, which was opposed by Vladimir Putin, who sent his troops to pro-Russian areas of the country.

AFP

“There is a war against the Georgian government that is interfering in the name of the protection of the local people,” Guillaume Chow explains. In a few days, after the Georgia-led invasions, the Russians were able to bring South Ossetia and Abkhazia under their control.

“Georgians are not exactly ready,” says Jean Lewesk, a professor of history at UQAM. He says the Ukrainians are much better prepared. However, Vladimir Putin seems to have big ambitions with Ukraine, he continues.

Connection of Crimea

Crimea is a historically pro-Russian region bordering the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. In 2014, Ukraine wanted to join NATO, which merged with Russia after a referendum contested by the international community.

Vladimir Putin in 2014

AFP

Vladimir Putin in 2014

As Jean Lewesk explains, Vladimir Putin had every interest in taking control of the region, which benefits from an ideal geographical location. “If Crimea becomes a NATO port, it will be politically and strategically unacceptable for Putin to visit NATO naval bases.”

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“It simply came to our notice then [l’Ukraine] Join NATO and we will cut you down, what he is doing today, “said the UQAM professor, adding that unlike the current invasion, Crimea’s annexation was made with very little resistance.

Several assassination attempts

We can say that Vladimir Putin did not like his opponents. The list of his enemies is long, very long.

For example, in 2018, Moscow was accused of ordering the assassination of former Russian double agent Sergei Skribal. The former colonel of the Russian military intelligence was convicted by the Kremlin in 2006 of “high treason” and accused of selling information to the British. Scribble moved to the UK in 2010 after a spy exchange between Moscow, London and Washington.

The bench where the former spy was found.

AFP

The bench where the former spy was found.

In March 2018, Sergey and his daughter Lulia fainted on a bench in a small town in the UK. They were poisoned by a neurological agent from the Novichok family, a product of the Soviet nuclear chemical program.

The story is reminiscent of the story of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian secret agent who was poisoned in 2006 with polonium-210.

The Navalny affair

Vladimir Putin’s most famous enemy is undoubtedly Alexei Navalny, a well-known anti-corruption activist who targeted and investigated the Russian elite.

Alexei Navalny

AFP

Alexei Navalny

In August 2020, Navalny was admitted to a hospital in Siberia. He fell ill after consuming poison on the plane.

In early 2021, he will return to Russia, knowing that he will be arrested as soon as he returns to the country. He is being held in Russia, where he is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for fraud.

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