Streetwise Professor

June 15, 2013

Putin Grabs the Ring. Literally.

Filed under: Politics,Russia,Sports — The Professor @ 7:50 pm

Vladimir Putin has done some outlandish things, but I think this takes the trophy.  Or the ring.  The Super Bowl Ring.

You might recall that Kraft in 2005 joined a cadre of businessmen to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. The Patriots owner walked into that meeting with a jewel-laced Super Bowl XXXIX ring on his finger, but left empty-handed.

“I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring,” Kraft said at the time, per The Boston Globe. Putin “was clearly taken with its uniqueness … at that point, I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin.”

Not so fast. Kraft now admits Putin nabbed the ring — worth upwards of $25,000 — without his consent.

“I took out the ring and showed it to (Putin),” Kraft said this week, per the New York Post. “And he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,’ I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

That’s the head of the Party (and State) of Crooks and Thieves: leading by example!

The only thing that is worse than Putin’s in-your-face thievery is the Bush administration’s craven response:

Kraft kept his wits about him and complied with a call from the White House, in which a George W. Bush handler told him: ” ‘It would really be in the best interest of U.S.-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.’ “

FFS. No wonder Putin thinks he can get away with about anything when dealing with the US.  Because he can. I think he tries this stuff to see what he can get away with.  He gets away with it . . . so he pushes it even more.  He’ll keep pushing until someone pushes back.

Here’s my idea.  Have Ray Lewis let Putin hold his Super Bowl ring, and pray that Putin tries to pocket it. And we can make money off this by putting it all on pay-per-view.

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39 Comments »

  1. Pretty pathetic, though the fact that Putin stole the ring is no surprise given the fact he is suspected of robbing state coffers blind, the WH position was incredibly stupid.

    That said, the current WH would probably rush to give him the whole teams rings….

    Comment by Andrew — June 16, 2013 @ 9:35 am

  2. ahem… this was actually in the news and widely known at the time it happened. The only new piece is that the WH had any role in this: back then the understanding was that Kraft sucked it up because he had bigger assets to lose in Russia if he had not. That, and existence of U.S.-Soviet relations in 2005.

    Comment by Ivan — June 16, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

  3. @Ivan. I didn’t start following Russia closely until 2006.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 16, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

  4. slightly off-topic, but can anyone explain the phenomenon of Mark Adomanis and Anatoly Karlin to me? How did they become recognized as “experts” on Russia? Anatoly appears to be nothing more than a Russian nationalist internet dork, and Mark has clearly spent little to no time in Russia itself and makes hilariously stupid analysis like claiming that Russia has no brain drain by only looking at net emigration statistics.

    Comment by lulz — June 17, 2013 @ 5:28 am

  5. Putin has now “graduated” from Tsar to Mongol Kahn.

    Comment by Sotos — June 17, 2013 @ 7:43 am

  6. Kraft had “assets in Russia” in 2005?

    Comment by Tatyana — June 17, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  7. Sotos, I am willing to attest tot he fact that brain drain out of Russia was of staggering proportions in early 90s and it is gradually approaching the same levels in our days… Nevertheless, there is still quite a bit of brain capacity in Russia. However, there is no motivation to apply it and very little demand for it.

    Comment by MJ — June 17, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  8. @MJ It would be very stupid to underestimate the intelligence and capabilities of Individual Russians. However it would be hard to come up with a system less able to use them than a personal autocracy, unbound by traditions, supported by affiliated “gangs” of security personnel. I am sure there are centers of excellence guided by skilled and charismatic leaders who can create a non or less toxic environment where such people thrive, but this seems vey much against the zeitgeist of today’s Russia.

    Even some immigrants who wish to escape this have been damaged by the SOVOK mentality unconsciously absorbed in their youth: it seems to be a zero sum or even negative sum game where if you win, the Russian loses, even if they get something. I would go so far as to say that some (not all) seem to have the attitude that if you lose, and the Russian stays even, he or she has won! Combined with some spitefulness, paranoia and a real fear of being made to look a fool, this makes it hard for many Americans to work with them.

    Generalizations like this are always dangerous, and should never be applied to individuals, but this has been my (unfortunate) experience on several but not all occasions. Some find this a tough hurdle to make, even when they recognize it.

    Comment by Sotos — June 17, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  9. Russia’s human capital is a disaster, read about it here – http://www.nbr.org/publications/issue.aspx?id=202 the number of patents being produced in Russia is far below what it should be for a population that is supposedly so highly educated.

    Comment by lulz — June 17, 2013 @ 11:05 am

  10. @lulz I don’t think patents are proper criteria for measuring human capital. Russia traditionally has had strong tradition in fundamental sciences and IT. International patenting law does not provide protection for such content unless it is directly associated with a production environment. In particular, you cannot patent mathematical or analytic content though you can patent a specific application deployed in a specific computational environment.
    On the other hand, if Russia does not have sufficient patents, let’s say in various engineering disciplines, that can be understandable – Russian economy does not present adequate demand for it.
    But in no way it is a measurement for the intellectual capacity of the Russian people.
    As a matter of fact I am willing to state that an average Russian is way above of an average American or a European in terms of being well-read or erudition.

    Comment by MJ — June 17, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  11. ” As a matter of fact I am willing to state that an average Russian is way above of an average American or a European in terms of being well-read or erudition”

    I have lived in Russia and have years of interaction with Russians and can state that this is complete bullshit

    Comment by lulz — June 17, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  12. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/06/marc-bennetts-anatoly-kashpirovsky-russia-rasputin

    Does anyone remember how popular this guy became in Russia at the end of the USSR? Erudite. Yeah.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/russia-boasts-more-faith-healers-than-real-physicians-124363134/170715.html

    Comment by lulz — June 17, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  13. ” I don’t think patents are proper criteria for measuring human capital”

    They are also one of the standard methods of measuring human capital.

    “Russia’s publishing productivity has flatlined, while developing countries like Iran, Malaysia, and Pakistan have exploded by comparison. A July 2012 study by Russian researcher Maxim Kotsemir, from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, found that the number of publications by Russian scientists actually decreased slightly in 2011 compared to 2001. In addition, the average number of citations of Russian scientific papers was one of the lowest in the world.”

    http://themoscownews.com/russia/20130603/191570763/Russias-new-science-president-Fortov-faces-uphill-battle-.html

    Comment by lulz — June 17, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

  14. On the matter of the ring, I think the explanation lies in a possible culture clash. In Russia, things handed over may be taken as indicative that they are a gift, just as when a guest admires something in a Russian house, it can easily result in the host pressing it on one as a gift. Putin may easily have seen things in that light.

    However, God forbid that I may seem to be defending that evil troll, so perhaps the following may counterbalance the above.

    Schoolboy Question:
    What were the main characteristics of the Nazi Party??
    I have an essay to do on this and i have to do 5 Characteristics on the Nazi Party.
    I have propaganda but my book doesn’t exactly give them.

    Answer from YahoomAnswers:
    The main features of fascism, of which Nazism is a form are:
    – Corporatism – co-opting employers and workers into the state
    – Leader principle, cult of personality based on a charismatic leader – Duce, Führer or Caudillo
    – Authority of leader supersedes the usual mechanisms of state
    – Anti-communism & anti-liberalism
    – Aggressive militarism – ‘war is the only hygiene’ (Marinetti)
    – Extreme nationalism (not necessarily racist nationalism)
    – Idea that their methods represent a ‘higher’ form of organisation than democracy, socialism or any other form of government.
    – Use of violence & threats to impose their views on society.
    – A reaction against the perceived ‘ills’ of the modern world.
    – A belief in the ‘volk’ or people as having some kind of innate mission that sets them apart from other countries.

    cf. Russian Federation
    Corporatism – co-opting employers and workers into the state
    [RF: massive civil service, state corporations (e.g. Rosneft etc, Skolkovo]
    Leader principle, cult of personality based on a charismatic leader – Duce, Führer or Caudillo
    [RF: Putin’s bare-chested exploits]
    Authority of leader supersedes the usual mechanisms of state
    [RF: no independent judiciary, no rule of law, no secure property rights]
    Anti-communism & anti-liberalism
    [RF: anti-Americanism, lumpenisation of thought]
    Aggressive militarism – ‘war is the only hygiene’ (Marinetti)
    [RF: Georgia, Caucasus]
    Extreme nationalism (not necessarily racist nationalism)
    [RF: persecution and exploitation of minorities]
    Idea that their methods represent a ‘higher’ form of organisation than democracy, socialism or any other form of government.
    [RF: ‘sovereign democracy’]
    Use of violence & threats to impose their views on society.
    [RF: OMON, beating up of demonstrators, torture in custody, e.g. Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky, Pussy Riot]
    A reaction against the perceived ‘ills’ of the modern world.
    [RF: return of the Russian Orthodox Church as an arm of the state]
    A belief in the ‘volk’ or people as having some kind of innate mission that sets them apart from other countries.
    [RF: return of ‘Russian exceptionalism’]
    – Nazism has the additional feature of racism, a belief that non-Germans are racially inferior – especially Jews, Slavs (Russians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians etc), and gypsies.
    [RF: treatment of non-ethnic Russian immigrant workers

    It’s sadly all part of the steady nazification of Russia, which is demanding of the West that we wear ever thicker blinkers in order to fail to see it.

    Comment by DaveS — June 17, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

  15. As a small addendum to my previous comment, immediately after posting it, I did a quick search for признаки фашизма and offer the following two links for Russian speakers:

    http://www.echo.msk.ru/blog/oldjacob/886765-echo/

    http://agitator-mass.livejournal.com/727557.html

    Comment by DaveS — June 17, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

  16. @DaveS-agreed it may well be a culture thing. And by saying so you’re not necessarily enabling an “evil troll.” People like Putin-especially Russians like Putin, or mafiosi-believe that everyone is their supplicant offering them tribute, which by right is theirs. So this is revealing about Putin’s mindset-a revelation that is hardly flattering. The patrimonial attitude comes through-everything is his, by right, so if he takes it it can’t be theft.

    BTW, a good friend with extensive experience in Russia is of the same opinion.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 17, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

  17. “…when a guest admires something in a Russian house, it can easily result in the host pressing it on one as a gift”.
    That’s what Russians say about customs in Caucasus. It is certainly not a “Russian” thing.
    And it is not a “culture” thing – unless the “culture’ in question is premised in prison and discourse is among thieves and their keepers. It has been noted a decade ago, at the time of first Putin presidency, his predilection for expressing himself in terms of criminal slang (infamous “мочить в сортире”); since then he provided ample proof for his words by his actions.

    Comment by Tatyana — June 18, 2013 @ 8:59 am

  18. Re comments #16 and #17, above – see Mongol Kahn

    Comment by Sotos — June 18, 2013 @ 9:04 am

  19. @ lulz If you say so.

    Comment by MJ — June 18, 2013 @ 11:03 am

  20. @Tatyana – I’m sure you’re right in general. I was, however, speaking from personal experience – only a handful of occasions over the decades, but enough for me to learn to very slightly adjust my phrasing of things. Also in the usual course of things, I do not pay much attention to ethnicity detail; perhaps I was with Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Tatars, or whatever wonderful mix it was on the occasions in question. What are we going to call someone born in Karaganda of Russian, Polish, German and Ukrainian parentage with a Russian spouse (of ? parentage) whose Soviet schooling had the purpose, inter alia, of making him ‘Russian’ and a new Soviet chelovek. (I mention Karaganda simply because people originating from the Karlag have a tradition of kindness that differs notably from Muscovite (or Parisian) viciousness.)
    And of course, you are also right about ‘culture’. Prostitutin, as I like to call him for fun, is only условно of Russian culture, and the layerings matter: layer of Leningrad yob, layer of KGB thug, layer of cultureless New Russian mafia oligarch, layer of autocrat of all the Russias and Tatar-Mongol khan, and so on.
    Culture clash is a strange and subtle thing. I got caught by one today. A friend/acquaintance, rather Sovok because he can’t help it but who is better read than most and wants to be nice, with whom one can have civilised (perhaps semi-civilised) conversations about history, could not resist in a phone call this morning telling me in a self-satisfied tone of voice that Putin had so put down Cameron about Syria that the latter was left speechless. “Putin – wonderful, Westerners – weak”– yet he doesn’t even like Putin! That eternal chip on the shoulder was suddenly showing.
    Obviously he saw this on some RF television channel. I found a YouTube clip of the occasion. What I saw was the usual KGB manoeuvre of addressing a particular event (the psycho Syrian rebel purportedly eating the flesh of a killed enemy – trust Putin to use the word ‘organs’, with its particular connotation for Russians) to argue against arming the rebels and Cameron turning away in disgust/despair at the pointlessness of even trying to talk to someone with that sort of mentality.
    Now *that* is culture clash: two distinct and nearly opposite interpretations of the same event. (Of course, I know I’m right and my Sovok friend is wrong! That’s what the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were for.)
    As an aside about that clip, why are Russian translators so dreadful? Putanin certainly was not helped by his awful translator with his repetitions, rephrasings, etc. Deadfish Putin dubbed by a deadbrain made me squirm.

    Comment by DaveS — June 18, 2013 @ 11:44 am

  21. DaveS:
    I’m sure you have experienced those offers yourself all over post-SU; that’s not a manifestation of a “folk” or “historically”-cultural custom. It is more of a social consequence, and I am sure that occurred in places where a foreigner, especially an American, is/was a novelty.
    Also, post-Soviets have been brought up in a kind of love-hate attitude to Americans*: officially, US have been designated for many decades условный противник, from newspaper columns to military doctrine; so naturally, distrustful of propaganda, average people got used to assign opposite polarity to America on everything their TV told them. (I’m sure this thought is not new to you, as you seem to well-versed in post-Soviet realities.) So a live American in place where none were seen before inspired owe and desire to please, pre-emptively – including giving you some stuff you expressed interest in. You were exotic, and they thought you had the same impression of them. If, f.i., you’d took off your tie and offered them as a present, they would be happy, too – even if their workplace did not require a “tie” dress code.

    Re: your exchange with your совок-acquaintance (btw, it should not be written with capital letter: it is not a nationality, rather a term of derision; do not call him that in his face.): he demonstrated rather common misunderstanding of Cameron’s motives. I don’t think it is characteristic of sovok mentality in particular (although the opposite often is true: sovok mentality might include this miscalculation), rather a logical fallacy so often demonstrated in online battles. Your description reminded me of something I wrote long time ago – not quite identical, but the principle’s the same.

    As to the horrible interpreters…could it be P. was dissatisfied with their performance, too, and decided to show them how it should be done? See delightfully funny commentary here (that’s where I stole it from)

    * I assume you are an American.

    Comment by Tatyana — June 18, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  22. khan sorry

    Comment by Sotos — June 18, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

  23. In all my time in Russia I’ve never come across a Russian citizen of any ethnicity presuming to accept something as a gift that has merely been shown to him. I suspect, as some here have already alluded to, it is a result of Putin being surrounded by toadying yes-men (see recent comments on Sechin, for example) and assuming that everything handed to him is a gift from a fawning admirer. Like most Russian and authoritarian rulers, he lives in a bubble, almost entirely detached from reality. I can see this all going horribly wrong for him in the next few years.

    Comment by Tim Newman — June 18, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

  24. telling me in a self-satisfied tone of voice that Putin had so put down Cameron about Syria that the latter was left speechless.

    This. I used to hear this a lot, and most of the time it was after Putin had used some extremely crude analogy which has no place in a civilized discussion, and the Russians had interpreted the disgust on the faces of the other parties as one of defeat and wonderment of Putin’s cleverness and biting wit. Your comment about Putin’s layers is bang on. The smartest Russians I know don’t use such language, in any circumstances, much less when in formal company.

    Comment by Tim Newman — June 18, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

  25. There is no such thing surrinding the gift-taking in the Russian culture as contemplated above.

    There is no such thing surrounding the gift-taking in the Russian culture as contemplated above.

    I certainly cannot see any plausible scenario, including misunderstanding, under which taking that ring and putting it in your pocket could be justified.
    On occasion I have had meetings with low- and middle-level employees of the U.S. government. They wouldn’t let me buy even coffee for them. They have a code of behavior for the governmental employees.
    Of course, Russia is a far cry from it. But, again, let’s imagine that Putin was confused and thought that it was being given as a gift. But it was clear, this was very expansive gift. People don’t give to strangers such gifts for no reason. At least due to the wrong perception of it he should’ve not taken it.
    Now, there is the next issue, thought. What is it with this grown-up man that makes him take his ring out from his finger and put it on someone else’s finger? What is that makes him feel he should brag about it? What was going on through his head? Narcissism of a kind? What kind of man wear rings with 5 carat diamonds? What sense of accomplishment or satisfaction does it give to them?

    Comment by MJ — June 18, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  26. MJ, your indignation is misplaced. Go read Wiki or I dunno, google – what kind of ring that is, may be then you’d understand “what was going through his head”.
    Besides, he never “put [his ring] on someone else’s finger”; that’s fabrication.

    Comment by Tatyana — June 19, 2013 @ 4:41 am

  27. Dear Tatyana, I know what kind of ring it was – a memorabilia, which normally belongs to the stand along with all the Cups won.

    Comment by MJ — June 19, 2013 @ 9:03 am

  28. MJ – so you did google it; good. So now you know it’s a piece of memorabilia, an artifact produced in very limited number, and considering contribution that Kraft made into the event it memorized, it was, indeed, “very dear to his heart”. I hope you can imagine how being a memorabilia piece, it was designed to serve as a “portable memory”, thus it was carried on owner’s finger. See, if you don’t have certain habit or are not familiar with foreign fashions, or did not have a personal experience with some social custom – that does not mean others who engage in it are inferior. They are not “bragging”, there is nothing wrong with their heads, they are not narcissists. You might dismiss their taste, and that’s your right – but there is no accounting for taste, as you probably know.
    Besides, what’s 5 karat diamonds in one ring for a man worth $2.2Bln?

    Comment by Tatyana — June 19, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

  29. PS.
    I know, the topic is been played to death now, but I want to share something I came across just now. This is taken from commentary on incredibly funny post @abovethelaw website, re: response to illiterate Cease&Desist letter:

    Robert Kraft, NE Patriots • a day ago

    To Western New England School of Law:

    Please Cease and Desist from the use of the name “New England” in your name, which is likely to cause confusion with the Patriots franchise. We believe that such degradation has led directly to our two recent losses to the Giants in the Super Bowl, as Mr. Brady was humiliated by being taunted as a fourth tier QB.
    35

    Reply

    Share ›

    Avatar
    Brocaine_Brandy Robert Kraft, NE Patriots • a day ago

    All your preftigious rings are belong to us.

    -V. Putin

    Comment by Tatyana — June 19, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

  30. Dear Tatyana, thank you injecting some common sense into me. From now on I will try to follow your recommendations as a guideline in my life.

    Comment by MJ — June 19, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

  31. Have to go with Tim Newman on both points. A. Living there 6 years and never saw this gift-giving/taking phenomenon. B. Russians have a boatload of slang, but they know when and when not to use it. It was always very interesting to me to see how fickle they were about grammar and proper speaking, especially in a work environment.

    Comment by Howard Roark — June 19, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

  32. MJ: you better

    Comment by Tatyana — June 20, 2013 @ 5:48 am

  33. There is a video of the exchange that I cannot locate now. It was my impression that Kraft expected the ring back. Putin acting out his inner Golem had no compunction about the theft.

    Comment by pahoben — June 20, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  34. @pahoben. This whole episode is becoming a Rorschach test about Putin. Is he a thief? Or just a massive egotist who thinks “of course people are showering me with gifts: I am the Tsar and I deserve them!”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 20, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  35. @pahoben. FTR, I am of the massive, entitled egotistical Tsar school.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 20, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  36. @Professor-I think it is iindicative of his deep character that was honed during FSB training. His goal is to get something from you and give nothing in return. Anyone that believes he will be motivated by gratitude or by any sense of fair play is very naive. If you give him something you absolutelly must have prior agreement what you will receive in return and some way of enforcing the agreement. No western ideals should ever be attributed to Putin.

    Comment by pahoben — June 20, 2013 @ 11:19 am

  37. He really believes western ideals are a weakness to be exploited and certainly not to be emulated. He knew the State Department would pressure Kraft to forget it.

    Comment by pahoben — June 20, 2013 @ 11:30 am

  38. […] Professor analyses game of “Grab the Ring”: I am of the “massive entitled egotistical Tsar” school […]

    Pingback by B-roll digest | Скрипучая беседка — June 21, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  39. “slightly off-topic, but can anyone explain the phenomenon of Mark Adomanis and Anatoly Karlin to me?”

    Definition of fame – they know you, while you don’t know (or care to know) them. Lulz!

    Comment by S/O — June 23, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

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