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"I am not ready": How Putin rejected Yeltsin's suggestion to run for President

Yeltsin Putin
© Sputnik / Sergey Zhukov
FILE PHOTO. Boris Yeltsin (L) shakes hands with Vladimir Putin (R)
When offered support from then-President Yeltsin for a bid to lead Russia, Vladimir Putin said 'No,' much to the surprise of his boss. The anecdote was told by the Russian president to school students choosing their path in life.

Putin recalled how he was offered a big career boost that eventually made him president of Russia during a forum on career opportunities for teenagers about to graduate from school. When asked how he chose the profession of the president, he assured them he did not.

The story came with a moral. Putin said that, although he had plenty of experience as an official and "a big boy" by that stage, he didn't feel ready to fill Yeltsin's shoes. He said he hopes young people in the audience will be better prepared for making key decisions in their lives than he had been.

"The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, summoned me and said: 'I want to submit your candidacy to the parliament, so that you become Prime Minister, and later I suggest you run for President. Do you agree?' And I told him: 'No'. He was very surprised and asked in his peculiar manner: 'Why is that?' And I told him: 'I am not ready'"

Comment: For the most part, it is those not fit to be leaders who actually believe themselves worthy and capable of such responsibility.

For more on Putin, his life, and his manifold accomplishments, see:


4,500yo Mesopotamian pillar is first known record of a border dispute

mesopotamia stele border dispute
© Trustees of the British Museum
Lagash Border Stele
The marble stele, held in the British Museum's collections for 150 years, also includes the first known use of the term "no man's land"

A recently interpreted 4,500-year-old marble pillar from ancient Mesopotamia shows that even at the dawn of civilization, people were bickering about their borders.

As James Pickford at The Financial Times reports, the pillar sat in British Museum for 150 years until Irving Finkel, a curator in the Middle East department, deciphered the Sumerian cuneiform writing on the cylinder this year. As it turns out, the object, now on view in an exhibit called "No Man's Land," was erected to establish a border between the warring city states of Lagash and Umma, located in present-day southern Iraq.


Never-before-seen UN report on Kosovo's gruesome organ harvesting campaign

Milovan Drecun
Milovan Drecun speaking to Sputnik Serbia about the KLA's alleged organ harvesting activities.
For decades, Serbian investigators and a few Western officials including ex-Hague Tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte have accused Kosovar Albanian officials of presiding over a gruesome campaign to harvest the organs of Serbian POWs. Now, for the first time, Sputnik has been shown excerpts from a UN report investigating the matter.

Milovan Drecun, chairman of Serbia's parliamentary committee on Kosovo-Metohija, has shown Sputnik Serbia never-before-seen papers from a 2004 UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) report on the so-called 'Yellow house' in northern Albania, a site alleged to have been at the heart of the illegal organ harvesting operation run by Albanian Kosovar mafias between 1998 and 2001. A copy of this report was obtained by a Serbian parliamentary working group collecting evidence of alleged war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army against the Serbian people.


Was Putin a Stasi officer? Mystery surrounds 'discovery' of his East German 'intl ID'

Putin firing range
© Sputnik / Dmitry Astakhov
Reports have gone viral that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had a Stasi ID issued to him during his service in East Germany in the 1980s - but is the find legitimate and is it really that big of a deal?

Germany's Bild tabloid newspaper published a photo on Tuesday of an East German secret police (Stasi) identity card purportedly issued to Vladimir Putin when he served as a KGB officer in Dresden during the Cold War.

The green identity card bears the official name of the Stasi - the Ministry for State Security - along with a photograph of Putin and an ID number printed along the bottom.

Russian Flag

'Altered beyond recognition': Looking back at Russian patriot Solzhenitsyn's return to his motherland on the 100th anniversary of his birth

© Olga Shalygin / AP
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, followed by his wife, Natalia, steps off a plane in Vladivostok and sets foot on Russian soil for the first time in 20 years in May 1994.
When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994, ending 20 years of exile, I was there as his train pulled into Moscow's Yaroslavsky Station on July 21 -- the end of a long cross-country journey he took after flying from America to Vladivostok in May.

It was a big day: One of the most famous victims of the communist system was returning to a country free of the repressive Soviet government he had helped bring down by documenting daily life -- or the pale shadow of it that was lived by inmates in the Soviet prison-camp system.

Solzhenitsyn, who would have turned 100 on December 11 if he were still living today, was a figure of towering moral stature -- a man who spent years in the gulag and was praised for the "ethical force" of his life and work when he was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature.

It wasn't that Solzhenitsyn was expected to ride to power on a white horse and right seven decades of wrong -- he had already said he would steer clear of party politics and repeated that in an address from a concrete abutment at the station, where an eager crowd stood listening in the rain.

Comment: The remarks by President Putin and Mrs. Solzhenitsyn at the unveiling of the monument to Solzhenitsyn follow:
Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs Solzhenitsyn,

Today we are unveiling a monument to Alexander Solzhenitsyn - our outstanding compatriot, writer, thinker, war veteran, who participated in the Great Patriotic War and was a true patriot of Russia.

December 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. For us, it is not only a day of remembrance and respect, but above all an occasion to revisit his literary, social as well as philosophical heritage, which is woven into the very fabric of the 20th century and continues to be up-to-date - for us, for Russia, and for the world.

I remember well all the meetings with Alexander Solzhenitsyn - his wisdom, his prudence and a deep understanding of history. His heart and soul, his thoughts were filled in equal measure with pain for the Fatherland and unlimited love for it. These feelings fueled all his work.
putin solzhenitsyn
© Mikhail Metzel / TASS
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a ceremony to unveil a monument to Soviet-era dissident and writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Moscow.
He clearly delineated the true, genuine, people's Russia and the totalitarian system, which brought suffering and severe trials to millions of people. But even being in exile, Solzhenitsyn would not tolerate anyone to speak evil or scornfully of his homeland, and opposed any manifestations of Russophobia.

A man of integrity, an exceptionally principled person, Solzhenitsyn never wanted to be comfortable. In his writings, in his literary, journalistic and social activity, he openly and consistently defended his views and convictions, and argued the unconditional value of the morals that provide for a healthy society.

Without understanding the country's past there can be no meaningful movement into the future, Solzhenitsyn believed. Therefore, he directed his efforts toward finding and designating ways to improve Russia, so that the hardest and most dramatic trials that befell our country would never happen again, so that our multiethnic people would live in dignity and justice. This is how he saw his mission, his goals and the meaning of his service.

Friends, the centenary of Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a landmark occasion for the whole country. Many events have been timed to this date to perpetuate the memory of our great compatriot. One of them is the unveiling of a monument in the writer's native town of Kislovodsk, and the opening of his memorial museum in Moscow, as well as conferences, exhibitions, lectures, productions and theatrical adaptations of his works in many regions.

But the most important thing is that Solzhenitsyn's voice is still being heard. His thoughts and ideas resonate in people's minds and hearts. Popularising his work, encouraging and introducing new young readers to it is the best thing we can and must do to honour his memory.

I must certainly express special gratitude to Natalia Solzhenitsyn for her tireless work and her truly invaluable contribution to the preservation of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's legacy.

Thank you.
Video of Putin's remarks. Click cc for English captions:

You too can honor Solzhenitsyn's memory by purchasing the new edition of his abridged Gulag Archipelago, with a foreword by Jordan Peterson.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's widow Natalia Solzhenitsyn: Friends,

I would like to thank everyone who remains receptive and true to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's ideas and memory.

Allow me to thank the prominent members of the organising committee. They are very important people with busy lives. Still, they were able to dedicate their time and effort to the celebrations of Solzhenitsyn's centenary across the country.

As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said back in the 1970s: throughout my life all I do is walk the earth of my Fatherland, and it is only her pain that I hear, and I cannot write about anything but her. Afterwards his was expelled from the country, but they never succeeded in separating him from his homeland. He returned when he was allowed to do so.
solzhenitsyn putin
© kremlin.ru
So throughout his life he walked the earth of his Fatherland, and now that he is no longer with us he rises once again, and will always stand upright.

I am especially delighted that on the monument's right side is Matryona, the true Christian who can be found in any village, city and across our land. Let us cherish the righteous ones, who are still among us, staying in the shadows.

To his left is an image of Ivan Denisovich, carved in stone. For him, life in a prison camp was challenging, but on the outside life can also be dangerous, miserable and hard.

What I would like to say is that the world has gone mad, and in many places people do not live as they should: killing each other, keeping one another in poverty, hunger and other hardships. For this reason, the day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is not yet over. We have to be mindful of this, and see the world around us with open eyes. Whenever we spot an opportunity to help Ivan Denisovich, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do so.

Thank you all very much.
Here's how modern Russia remembers Solzhenitsyn:


The bigotry inherent in American progressivism

Woodrow Wilson

From Hegel to Woodrow Wilson, its philosophy has always led to the dehumanization of others.

Toward what do the progressives of today believe they are progressing? The chances are more than good that they have no idea. Somehow "progress" means greater equality, greater understanding, greater tolerance, greater peace, and greater evolution. Somehow. But it's never entirely clear how. In almost every sense, modern progressives mean that anything they deem good is progressive while all else is not just wrong but evil.

Is there an actual end to the progress of progressives? Is there a threshold of equality that must be crossed, one that would at least allow us to claim victory? Is there some utopia just around the corner, achievable in some viable way?

Comment: See also:


Iron age chariot and horses buried in East Yorkshire look as if they were 'leaping upwards from the grave'

iron age horses Pocklington Yorkshire

The horses had been buried upright - their heads were removed skulls were removed centuries ago
Archaeologists have made an "unparalleled" discovery in East Yorkshire of a chariot buried with two horses, which look as if they "were leaping upwards out of the grave."

The pair had been carefully positioned in the Iron Age grave at Pocklington with their back legs bent and hooves just off the ground - ready to spring into the next life.

The chariot - with a man aged in his late 40 upwards in a fetal position inside - had also been buried upright, as though the vehicle was ready to roll on "into any future life."

Archaeologists say the horses may have originally been buried with their heads sticking out of the grave, although when found they were headless.


Machine translation: The key to cracking long-dead languages?

tabla arcilla cuneiform
© codigooculto
Tablets from some of the world's oldest civilisations hold rich details about life thousands of years ago, but few people today can read them. New technology is helping to unlock them.
Broken and scorched black by fire, the dense, wedge-shaped marks etched into the ancient clay tablets are only just visible under the soft light at the British Museum. These tiny signs are the remains of the world's oldest writing system: cuneiform.

Developed more than 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where modern-day Iraq now lies, cuneiform captured life in a complex and fascinating civilisation for some three millennia. From furious letters between warring royal siblings to rituals for soothing a fractious baby, the tablets offer a unique insight into a society at the dawn of history.

They chronicle the rise of fall of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, the world's first empires. An estimated half a million of them have been excavated, and more are still buried in the ground.


Nomads having fun: 4,000yo game board found carved into the earth in Azerbaijan

ancient game board Azerbaijan
© Walter Crist/Gobustan National Park
A distinctive pattern of holes scored into the rock of an ancient shelter in Azerbaijan are the remains of a board for one of the world's oldest games.
A pattern of small holes cut into the floor of an ancient rock shelter in Azerbaijan shows that one of the world's most ancient board games was played there by nomadic herders around 4,000 years ago, according to an archaeologist who has investigated the find.

Walter Crist, a research associate with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, visited the rock shelter in a national park in Azerbaijan last year, searching for traces of the ancient game now known as "58 Holes."

The game is also sometimes called "Hounds and Jackals." British archaeologist Howard Carter found a game set with playing pieces fashioned like those animals in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenemhat IV, who lived in the 18th century B.C.


Bad Guys

George H.W. Bush laid the groundwork for 25 years of endless war

Bush war 2
By 1989, it had become apparent to all - everyone except the CIA, of course - that the Soviet economy, and thus the Soviet state was in very deep trouble.

In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down in the face of Soviet impotence. And, with the Cold-War corpse not even cold yet, president George Bush used the newly apparent Soviet weakness as an opportunity to expand US foreign interventionism beyond the limits that had been imposed on it by a competing Soviet Union. Over the next decade, Bush and his successor Bill Clinton - who very much carried on Bush's ideals of global interventionism - would place Iraq, Somalia, and Yugoslavia in the crosshairs.

But first on Bush's list was Panama in December 1989. At the time, the Panamanian state was an authoritarian regime that stayed in power largely due to US support, and functioned as an American puppet state in Central America where Communists were often successful in overthrowing right-wing dictatorships. The US regime's man in Panama was Manuel Noriega. But, after he stopped taking orders from Washington, Noriega became the first in a long line of foreign politicians who were held up as the next "Hitler" by the American propaganda machine. This was done in order to justify what would become an endless policy of invading tiny foreign countries that are no threat to the US - mostly done in the name of "humanitarian" intervention.

Comment: Watch The Panama Deception: