PUTINCON: FARCE OF HISTORY, PART ONE

Choosing sessions presented a challenge.
The New World Stages theater.
Security personnel at the entrance.

At lunch, as I served myself arugula salad, someone said, “Well, it is a good thing they have high security here.” “I wouldn’t assume anything,” answered Bill Bowder, who was looking for a missing plastic fork.

Coat check line.
Two Vladimirs and one Ivan.

…then, the world chess champion Garry Kasparov stepped on stage, followed by a furious succession of fiercely brilliant people and, in all honesty, it was one of the most mind-blowing and jaw-dropping shows I’ve seen in my life.

Left: a full house. Right: Garry Kasparov, the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, widely considered the greatest chess player in history after 20 years atop the rankings.
David Satter, an author of four books, the latest of which is “The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin.”
After his experience with the war, Arkady Babchenko wrote a series of stories about his experiences in battle, which were published under the title “One Soldier’s War.” He is also the creator of the project “Journalism without Intermediaries,” which aims to make journalists more independent and capable of avoiding censorship by editors or publishers. He currently works as a journalist at Novaya Gazeta, a Russian opposition paper.

Propaganda of hatred is the foundation of Putin’s regime.

“The most powerful and terrible weapon Putin has is propaganda. Goebbels must be applauding from the grave. Pumping of hatred through propaganda is the foundation of Putin’s reign. First, the enemies were the Chechens, then Georgians, then Ukrainians, then, for some odd reasons, LGBT people, and now — not sure if you are aware of it — it’s you. The US…. Putin’s power is based on dehumanization of the population; this is the most important thing to understand. People are told that values and morals are obsolete. Killing is allowed.”

Yevgeni Kiselev, a journalist, political analyst and a former CEO of NTV, managed to stay on Russian television for two more years on other stations until being forced out. He then worked as a freelancer, hosting shows on Echo Moskvy radio station and publishing in both Russian and international outlets, including GQ, Forbes, and Vedomosti. Kiselev is a 1995 recipient of the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which recognizes journalists who show courage in their reporting in the face of threats of violence and imprisonment. He is also the co-author of “Without Putin,” a book of dialogues between him and Russian politician Mikhail Kasyanov, chronicling the latter’s experiences in the Yeltsin and Putin administrations and, later, the opposition movement.

“Complete control of mass media and TV is the most characteristic feature of Putin’s regime. Putin saw the dissolution of the USSR as the biggest tragedy… He knew that he owed to media his rise to power as a popular personality and for making his persona. “Guy like us,” a street kid becoming a presidential candidate story.”

Anders Åslund has been a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics and was the founding director of the Stockholm Institute of East European Economics. A leading specialist on economic policy in Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe, he has served as an economic adviser to the governments of Russia and Ukraine. He is the author of 14 books and the editor of 16 books. He earned his doctorate from Oxford University and is a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.
Åslund compared Putin’s reign to Nicholas the First as it is based on the overcentralization of personal power, ruling through secret police, and increasing repression.
Toomas Ilves served as chairman of the EU Task Force on eHealth from 2011 to 2012 and was chairman of the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board at the invitation of the European Commission from 2012 to 2014. In 2013, he chaired the High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms convened by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). From 2014 to 2015, Ilves was the co-chair of the advisory panel of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2016, “Digital Dividends,” and was also the chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security beginning in June 2014.
He noted that the old methods of defense do not work. Doxxing has become something that people fear. The way the social media has been instrumentalized is interesting. 8.7 million fake stories were shared (in 2016?); fake news spreads faster than real news. Russia has been manipulating elections, sowing chaos, for example creating a group of white nationalists and a group of black activists and organizing competing events for them at the same time

“We need to veto them. Throw them out. They need us. Don’t allow them to buy property. It should be illegal for a shell company to buy property. One needs to physically show up to buy property…”

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