Putin's Rise To Power Part 1

We discuss Vladimir Putin's rise to power, beginning in East Germany in the Stasi.

In the first of another two part series, we discuss Putin's assignment in Dresden to the KGB office that managed Soviet support of international leftist terrorist organizations and individuals such as Carlos "The Jackal" Sanchez, the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), and the RAF (Red Army Faction).

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We discuss Putin's time in the Stasi, which represent his formative years as a KGB administrator working with the East German Stasi. Putin was tasked with two activities during this time that carry through to the rest of his political career. In addition to providing money and weapons to people like the RAF, PLO, and Carlos, Putin was also on the board of directors for the first collaborative corporation formed between East Germany and Russia called SPAG. This company was later investigated by German authorities for connections to money laundering, particularly for organized crime syndicates like the Colombian cocaine cartels and the Russian mafia.

We then discuss Putin's time on the staff of St. Petersberg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, the primary author of the Russian constitution that was established after the fall of the Soviet party, and how Putin continued his penchant for getting himself into positions tasked with distributing formerly state-owned property to private hands, and how Putin used this authority to buy favor within the ranks of Russia's oligarchy.

We finally discuss Putin's time doing basically the same tasks for the Yeltsin administration on the staff of Pavel Borodin who was the Moscow figure also tasked with redistributing former state property to business interests, and finally Putin's appointment to the head of the FSB, after which Putin killed his law school mentor and long-time friend Sobchak during his first run for the Russian Presidency.

The books of two authors were invaluable for the research for this episode. First, Dr Karen Dawisha at Miami Ohio University and her research into the Stasi records that survived from Putin's time in East Germany, and secondly the articles and books of Catherine Belton. 1, 2, 3, 4

1. Karen Dawisha, Vladimir Putin, Operation LUCH, and Matthias Warning: The Secret KGB-Stasi Relationship (appendix), Miami Ohio University, 2014. 

2. Catherine Belton, Did Vladimir Putin Support Anti-Western Terrorists as a Young KGB Officer?, Politico, June 2020. 

3. Catherine Belton, Putin's Name Surfaces in German Probe, The Moscow Times, May 2003. 

4. Catherine Belton, PUTIN’S PEOPLE: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2020. 

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