The Putin gambit: Release compromat materials concerning Viktor Yanukovych
Letter 02        12-Nov-2004

There is speculation in both Moscow and Kyiv that Russian officials may possess more "compromat," or embarrassing information, on Yanukovich that they could use in the future to coerce him. — Ariel Cohen

          12 November 2004

Vladimir Putin, President
4 Staraya Square
Moscow 103132

Mr President:

The Internet reports you occasionally giving welcoming addresses at chess tournaments, and sometimes goes so far as to refer to you as a "chess master."

And the BBC extrapolates your chess skills to politics by broadcasting the opposite picture together with the comment that you are "the grandmaster of Russian politics"  www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=1465

I am sure that you will agree that in chess, the rank beginner who does not think ahead beyond his own move will lose to a player who both foresees his opponent's reply and contemplates his own subsequent move, and that both will lose to the superior player who has learned to think ahead several moves.  As an advanced player yourself, there is no doubt that thinking ahead several moves has become second nature for you — at least in chess.

I wonder, though, if the BBC is correct in judging your politics to be as good as your chess.  Take the example of your intervention in the ongoing presidential elections in Ukraine.  Your first move was to acquire "compromat" materials which you can use to control candidate Viktor Yanukovych (or "Yanukovich") through blackmail, and was to attempt to buy him the presidency:

Yanukovich has also been a central figure in Ukraine’s tilt towards Russia, and the Kremlin reportedly has used its influence to help bankroll his presidential campaign.  Some experts believe that, like Kuchma, Russia is exploiting Yanukovich’s troubled past — specifically the fact that Yanukovich served time in jail as a young man for robbery and assault.  There is speculation in both Moscow and Kyiv that Russian officials may possess more "compromat," or embarrassing information, on Yanukovich that they could use in the future to coerce him.  In Moscow, observers already characterize the potential relationship between Putin and Yanukovich as that of a security services case officer handling an "asset."  A Kremlin source indicated that Putin, a former KGB agent, is personally disdainful of Yanukovich’s unsavory past.  Nevertheless, the Putin administration badly wants Yanukovich to be elected, as it would likely cement Ukraine in a position of dependency regarding Russia.

Ariel Cohen, Russia's gravitational pull in Eurasia stands to strengthen after Ukraine election, EurAsia. Eurasia Insight  www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav111004.shtml

But, suppose you do install Viktor Yanukovych as president — what then?  Then the Ukrainian people will discover that you have fixed an election for the purpose of installing a compromat-controlled gangster to rule over them, and will despise you for it, and will wish to free themselves from your control.  In other words, as a result of your capturing a bishop, you lose a rook.  This is not looking ahead.

And it is not just the Ukrainian nation that will turn against you — it is the whole world, as for example the United States.  Thus, for that hastily-captured bishop, it would be more accurate to say that you lose not a rook but your queen:

Mr. Putin is unwilling to accept the results of proper elections and is currently doing his best to spread this totalitarian virus to neighboring Ukraine.  If there is a democratic transition of power in Ukraine it would serve as a model for Russia, the last thing Mr. Putin wants.

Putin's Appeasers, Wall Street Journal Europe, 11-Nov-2004 putinru.com/news/item/33263.html

Gazing still farther into the future reveals that a game thus begun follows a simple, repetitive pattern: every increase of Kremlin coercion incites heightened Ukrainian disaffection, which is answered by another increase in Kremlin coercion, and so on.  The escalating spiral ends in a stalemate of butchery and destruction, for which Russian history is famous, and which continues to this day in such locations as Grozny and Beslan — a history, obviously, of bad players on both sides unable to think beyond their own moves:

Kremlin Move #479:  Level the Chechen capital of Grozny

Chechen Reply #479:  Beslan


Vladimir Putin (right) failing again to think ahead by again visiting Ukraine (12-Nov-2004) immediately before elections (21-Nov-2004), and by shaking hands with George-Soros-installed President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma (left), implicated in the murder of Internet journalist Heorhy Gongadze, and patron of compromat-controlled presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, implicated in the murder of journalist Ihor Oleksandrov, and who is running against anti-corruption candidate Viktor Yushchenko, implicated in the murder of no one, which makes him useless to Putin because he cannot be compromat controlled.

There would be no point in your playing chess with George Bush, as it is certain that you would win.  But on the other hand, there seems no point in your playing politics with George Bush for the prize of Ukraine, as it is certain that you will lose — because as soon as you step away from a chess board, you turn off your ability to think beyond your own move.  Perhaps it is Russia's misfortune, then, that your chess is better than your politics.

You are aware, too, of the concept in chess of a "gambit," in which a sacrifice is made in order to win some larger advantage.  It is within your power to play such a gambit in Ukraine.  That is, release your compromat information concerning Viktor Yanukovych today.  Viktor Yanukovych will be resoundingly defeated, but you will win the gratitude of the Ukrainian people for having saved them from rule by yet another gangster.  This particular gambit brings the advantage of requiring no real initial sacrifice — Viktor Yanukovych is going to lose to Viktor Yushchenko on 21-Nov-2004 anyway.

When evil is defeated, it does not help Russia being remembered for having fought on the losing side.

Lubomyr Prytulak