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Spring 2004, took a break off my galley, but then ended up spending time browsing through Parliamentary archives. What was I looking for? Can’t really say. Anyway it was between this brief break that I got a wind about an irresistible scoop – an offer to sample letters written by Putin.

Sure why not! Don’t need to ask how it was obtained or when the letters were written. Just went for it. Whipped out my Bodelian library card, ask if there’s any need to take some kind of oath or swear to…whatever all over again. Was told “not needed.” Good, and got pointed to a package. I walked over looked around the simple package, study it for a while. Took in the size, the color, the print, the typeface and generally the simple outlook.

What struck me first was…: if this compilation of letters had been published for the world to see, then Mr. Putin would have saved a Russian publishing house a lot of money on ink and printing by opting for simple light typeface with no serif – on a brownish and obviously recyclable type of paper.

Then comes the size of paper, could it be US legal, British, German, European legal or something Orthodoxy Russian and either tainted with ink blots, ciggy burns, sweat or perfume?

Anyway I sat down, loosen the package, open it and started browsing through. Stunned! …after about five minutes of browsing, I looked up for the archivist who pointed me in the direction of the package but he was nowhere to be found.

C’mon, I was expecting love letters to his wife, poems to his his daughter’s or girl friends and what do I have here? A couple of essays. Five different essays as a matter of fact – mostly written (typed) in Russian, some parts were in German and some in English.

The subject was economics. Area of focus is finance, banking, insurance and manufacturing. The language is academic, the syntax is high minded, dry with a bit of Russian idioms. Nonetheless, they were all logically disciplined, well structured and straight to the point.

One more thing, his abbreviations (full stops semi-colon and comas) were deployed symbolically enough for core content, substance, subject to support general context. A very good read indeed. Could have been an editorial out of the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times.

Sat straight in the chair, took a deep breath, reflected on two things: Russian culture of letter writing to it’s Tsarist administrators and Potemkin.

Why Potemkin? Well, Potemkin supposedly did so well for mother Russia in Odessa, Crimea, the Black Sea and Ukraine to the point getting stabbed in the back by Russian intelligencia. Their reason: yes, he can think, he appear exceptional but not extra-ordinary because they don’t think he’s good enough when it come to application.

Today Mr. Putin – one of few Russians with repetitive first and second names, has done everything he talked and wrote about. His ideas have worked so well Russians are not selling the shirt on their back for a meal anymore. But this Ukrainian crisis or Kyiv betrayal as they say – if the gentlemen of Russia intelligencia did not see a topographical arc running from Sumy through Poltava to Kirovohrad and Soroca in Moldova, then Mr. Putin will be replaced like they did Potemkin.

My point is the multi-cultural hub of Ukraine and all its occupants are to be protected and if it means cutting Ukraine off the sea, Russia will do it. The blueprint is obvious. To hesitate is to have a band of Ukraine, Georgia and the rest of the Black Sea countries coming together to exact a Black Sea access price on Russia.

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