Vladimir Putin did not arrive from outer space on an abalone shell.
Putin went from the virtually unknown Deputy Mayor of Saint Petersburg to Russia’s President and potentate by winning a weird competition organized by Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky who sought a “Russian Pinochet” to succeed Boris Yeltsin as President.
The competition, dubbed “Operation Successor,” went so far as to send Russia’s “Larry King,” Mikhail Leontyev, to interview General Pinochet for Russian TV while Pinochet was under indictment in Chile on murder charges. Russians were treated to the old dictator’s advice on choosing a leader who could imitate Pinochet’s “strong hand,” a police state, while promoting a hyper-capitalist economy.
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