From Russia with Revenge

How the Clinton Administration’s meddling in Boris Yeltsin’s 1996 re-election campaign destroyed Russia’s economy and nascent democracy, paved the way for Putin, doomed Hillary, and set the stage for Trump

By Ned Snark and cross-posted from Insurge Intelligence

If someone was tasked with setting to music the first official meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last July, would any song have been more apropos than Metallica’s Master of Puppets? The memory is probably a bit fuzzy now, but a number of statements made in the waning days of the Obama administration by some of the most senior officials of the US government bemoaning Russia’s efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election via the internets must have made for quite the comedic spectacle at the Kremlin.

“Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” said Sen. Chuck “Not Amy” Schumer (D-NY). “A fundamental of a democracy is a free and fair election,” remarked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Russians were engaged in activities in an attempt to manipulate the election, a direct attack on our national sovereignty [despite the fact that our drone strikes violate the territorial integrity of countries around the world on a daily basis],” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., told MSNBC. “You guys do realize that you sound exactly like Mortimer Duke incredulously imploring the President of the Stock Exchange to ‘turn those machines back on!’, right? Crimea river,” replied the thoroughly amused Russian Bear, owing to that which follows.

If it’s been said once it’s been said a thousand times that America creates at least the vast majority of its own geopolitical problems, especially under the guise of spreading democracy, which is really nothing more than the modern version of countries such as Spain and Portugal, for example, claiming that converting the indigenous peoples of their newly-conquered lands to Christianity during the Age of Exploration was somehow in the best interests of the natives, who were obviously never consulted on the matter. Sure, the United States is all for letting the people decide, except when we aren’t *cough* Mohammad Mosaddegh *cough*, which is why it’s entirely possible that Russia’s hacking, for which it’s been known since GoldenEye, of the DNC had less to do with helping Trump than hurting Hillary, who, once again, ultimately paid the price for Bill’s dirty deeds — more specifically, during the Russian Presidential Election of 1996.

***

At his first summit with Boris Yeltsin in Vancouver during April of 1993, Clinton affirmed his support for the Russian leader, saying, “Mr. President, our nation will not stand on the sidelines when it comes to democracy in Russia. We know where we stand….We actively support reform and reformers and you in Russia.” Yet as the Russians soon discovered, the only reforms with which Bubba and his administration concerned themselves were those of the economic variety, and if you think that his particular brand of capitalism was harmful enough in the United States, it would prove to be beyond catastrophic for a Russia whose economy was already in tatters owing to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yeltsin’s implementation of Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs’ program of economic “shock therapy” beginning on January 2, 1992, which, sadly, would prove to be as destructive and sadistic in terms of economics as it is on the psychological level.

Granted special powers by the Russian Parliament for a year to carry out said policy, Yeltsin only made things worse by saying that the period of hardship would last for a duration no longer than “6–8 months” as if he somehow thought that undoing over seventy years of communism could be accomplished in one fell swoop like performing the classic tablecloth trick, which, not surprisingly, resulted in an epic fail. Almost immediately, the effects were devastating. With the government lifting the price controls on 90% of consumer goods and 80% of the intermediate ones, by the end of January, prices on the remaining products had soared by 350%, while, “the total index of consumer prices in January-February, 1992 [had] increased [by] more than 500%”, thereby creating economic conditions that, unfortunately, managed to trump even those of the Weimar Republic #Kudos, leading Deputy Secretary of State, and human Dilbert character, Strobe Talbott, during a visit to Moscow in December of 1993, to utter his now infamous caustic quip that what Russia needed was, “less shock [and] more therapy.”

Worse still, hyperinflation made the ruble practically worthless and eradicated personal savings, new heavy taxes were levied, government spending was such that by the end of the year, “the Russian budget deficit was 20 percent of GDP,” unemployment was rampant, and even those who had either been incredibly fortunate to retain their jobs or find a new occupation, none of which could ever be seen as gainful, weren’t getting their wages for months, and sometimes years, on end, with the latter becoming a recurrent, if not also extremely disturbing, trend for the rest of Yeltsin’s tenure.

An article from Newsweek on January 12, 1992, entitled “‘Shock Therapy’ — With An Emphasis on Shock”, described the economic carnage: In Moscow’s state stores, the price of bread quadrupled. The free-market price of sausage went up more than sixfold, and pork sold for 465 rubles a pound-more than the average wage for a month’s work. Yeltsin’s overnight price reform had Russians worrying about runaway inflation. “We used to go shopping with one 10-ruble note,” said a worker named Yuri. “Now we need a suitcase full of them.” Russians even came to joke that, “Everything the Soviets ever told us about Communism was a lie. Unfortunately, everything they told us about Capitalism was true,” and, “What has…Yeltsin accomplished in one year that our former Soviet leaders couldn’t in 70? He’s made Communism look good.”

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