Thursday, 15 March 2012

The KGB Chief & the Media Mogul: The Strange Putin/Berlusconi Relationship

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Rather than merely calling Vladimir Putin on the telephone to congratulate him on his March 4 election victory for a new term as president of Russia, Silvio Berlusconi hopped in his jet and headed for Sochi, the Russian resort town that will be the site for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Italian billionaire and media mogul, who resigned his position as Italy’s prime minister last November, is embroiled in legal battles over charges of bribery, corruption, illegal wiretapping, and sex with an underage prostitute, but those concerns took back burner to his party time with Putin.

Producers of the top Italian television political discussion show Porta a Porta had scheduled Berlusconi for an interview about his resignation and the legal charges he faces, but he opted instead for an impromptu rendezvous with his Russian boon companion.

Whatever his legal troubles may be, it was all smiles as Berlusconi was photographed hugging his longtime pal Putin and current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Krasnaya Polyvana ski resort. London’s Daily Mail featured a photo slide show of the trio on the slopes and dining at a café in Sochi.

Russia Today (RT.tv), the Kremlin-run Putin propaganda channel, also featured a video of the three amigos.
    
The Berlusconi/Putin relationship has been a source of speculation and gossip for years. Berlusconi has made many trips to Putin-land and the former KGB/FSB chief has reciprocated, visiting Berlusconi’s huge luxury estate in the exclusive Porto Cervo enclave on the island of Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. Putin has even sent his teenage daughters to vacation at Berlusconi’s villa, a move that certainly calls into question Putin’s parental wisdom, considering the 75-year-old Berlusconi’s notoriety for bacchanalian orgies (as widely reported, for instance, here, here, and here) with young women, known as his “Bunga-Bunga Parties.”

And, as we reported last year, the Putin-Berlusconi plot thickened when Putin bought a neighboring luxury villa (albeit much smaller than Berlusconi’s) at Porto Cervo for 10 million euros. Where did Putin acquire the resources to buy a vacation domicile on one of the toniest pieces of real estate on the planet? He surely couldn’t have swung such a deal on his official KGB pay alone, or his salary as president or prime minister. The fact that that question was not even an issue in the Russian elections speaks volumes about the business-as-usual attitude toward institutionalized political corruption in Russia. Putin is, after all, the chief don or godfather in the Mafia State known as Russia, and it is more or less expected that he will partake of the same benefits that he and his Kremlin cronies have showered upon their favored oligarchs.

Mr. Berlusconi, of course, already boasted a huge personal fortune before assuming political office. That does not, however, make him immune to temptations to use his political connections to boost his business investments. The French television channel, France 24, reported recently:

Berlusconi was one of Putin's closest European allies before falling from power last year. He frequently came to Russia not just for diplomatic business but to celebrate his friend's birthday and other personal visits and clearly shares Putin's penchant for a macho lifestyle.

Diplomats in the US cables leaked by Wikileaks also described Berlusconi as acting as Putin's "mouthpiece" in Europe as well as "profiting personally and handsomely" in exchange.

One of the main targets of concern has been the Berlusconi/Putin-brokered South Stream gas pipeline, a massive joint project of Italy’s largest energy company, ENI, and Russia’s state-owned Gazprom.

The Berlusconi-Putin relationship is one of the more extreme examples illustrating the huge sea-change in personal, political, and economic relationships between Western leaders and “former” Communist leaders of the Soviet Union in this age of “convergence.” During the Cold War, David Rockefeller and his Chase Manhattan Bank boasted a unique access to the communist leaders in Moscow and Beijing. In that era it would have been unthinkable to allow Soviet or Red Chinese companies to invest in American markets. Today, the American and Western European economies are increasingly intertwined with Russia’s, and Russian oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich, Yuri Milner, Alisher Usmanov and Mikhail Prokhorov are not only major players in western companies but enjoy a social ranking among the rich and famous that would have been unimaginable a short time ago.  

Anatoliy Golitsyn, the most important Soviet KGB operative ever to defect to the West, explained in great detail in his books, New Lies for Old and The Perestroika Deception, the Kremlin’s long-range strategic “convergence” strategy for beguiling the West with false liberalization and a false collapse of communism. (A three-part interview with the late Christopher Story, editor/publisher of Soviet Analyst and World Reports Limited, on the significance of Golitsyn and his message of warning to the West, is available here.)

As the Soviet Communist leaders hoped, and as Golitsyn feared, most people in the West would fall for the ruse and would welcome the changes in Russia as developments to be celebrated: the communists were converting to become more like us. However, as Golitsyn warned, and as developments have confirmed, convergence has been on Marxist-Leninist terms and rather than Russia converting into a genuinely free market economy, the Western countries, including the U.S., have come more and more to resemble the corrupt cronyism of Putin’s KGB-run Russian Mafiya model. The annual conclaves of the super-rich, such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), the G8, and the G20, now include not only familiar one-world globalist names like Rockefeller, Soros, and Goldman Sachs, but also the names of billionaire Russian “capitalists” like Abramovich (another buddy — and Sardinian neighbor — of Berlusconi), Vekselberg, and Deripaska — as well as Putin, who has been a top featured speaker at the WEF.

And, since we’re mentioning WEF veteran Oleg Deripaska, apropos of the Putin/Berlusconi convergence theme is the odd coupling of Deripaska and British dynastic banking magnate Nathaniel Rothschild. What does the scion of the world’s most famous banking family have to do with the Russian aluminum king? Well, that has been the matter of considerable concern and conjecture in England over the past couple of years, though it has largely escaped the notice of the U.S. media.

Seems comrades Deripaska and Rothschild have been carrying on Putin/Berlusconi-type relations for a number of years, meeting on Deripaska’s enormous super-yacht as well as at the Rothschild family’s palatial villa on Corfu, not to mention Siberian sauna adventures. What has caused scandal though has been the involvement in these affairs of Lord Peter Mandelson, who was adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Business Secretary to Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown — and in between served as European Union Trade Commissioner. Did Mandelson use his offices inappropriately to aid Rothschild and Deripaska in business dealings?

It certainly appears that way and that’s the way Britain’s Daily Mail reported it. Mr. Rothschild tried to smother the scandal with a 1.5 million pound libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail, a tactic that has served the Rothschild family well in times past. However, on February 10, 2012, Mr. Justice Tugendhat of Britain’s High Court ruled against Rothschild. The Rothschild/Deripaska affair ( see here, here, and here), like the Putin/Berlusconi relationship, has served to further expose the dangerous inroads of communist/capitalist convergence and to further validate and vindicate the prescient analysis of Anatoliy Golitsyn.

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Berlusconi Charged in Under-age Prostitution Scandal

Photo: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during their meeting in the resort of Krasnaya Polyana near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia, March 8, 2012: AP Images

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