By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock
It has been more than 150 years since Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote Crime and Punishment, but the main character of his famous novel could well have been today’s Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
Dostoyevsky’s Rodion Raskolnikov is a character who considers himself Superman, a superior person above the laws governing the rest of humanity. In the novel, his friend Razumikhin describes him as “sullen, gloomy, arrogant, proud; recently (and maybe much earlier) insecure and hypochondriac.”
Does that sound like someone who is in the news every day recently?
Sad Vlad Putin has spent years building his image as Superman, and is a domineering introvert lacking any sense of empathy. He is so much more superior to the rest of us that he doesn’t have to follow the same laws. A word from him and war begins, or all free speech is suspended.
Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov kills an unscrupulous pawnbroker, justifying the crime as removing a louse from society. Putin is killing thousands of Ukrainians, justifying his crimes as removing neo-Nazi louses.
His ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine is not a war against another nation. It is a war against civilians; a deliberate slaughter of citizens, including women and children, who he treats as louses to be stomped. His plan appears to be to destroy Ukraine and scatter millions of Ukrainians throughout Europe, where the strains of so many refugees will create political upheavals.
Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov turns out not to be a Superman, just a mediocre human driven half mad by the guilt over the pawnbroker’s murder. He pushes away people trying to help him and finds himself more and more isolated.
Putin’s murders in Ukraine have left him isolated, throughout the world and to some extent at home. Thousands of Russian anti-war protesters have been detained by police since the invasion of Ukraine began Feb. 24.
Guilt and emotional upset eventually force Raskolnikov to confess to the pawnbroker’s murder. He is sentenced to eight years in a Siberian prison but later experiences a mental and spiritual rebirth with the help of a prostitute.
Surely Putin is experiencing some guilt and mental distress over his murderous campaign in Ukraine. How could any human not cringe at the murders of innocent people walking the streets, riding their bicycles, or waiting at train stations while trying to flee the country.
Perhaps someone who is physically and mentally ill?
Many close observers suspect that Putin is suffering from thyroid cancer, or possibly Parkinson’s Disease or a stroke. They say his unusual gait and finger movements are signs that something is wrong.
British media outlets have reported that Putin has been visited 35 times by a thyroid cancer specialist flown to his Black Sea retreat. They also have reported that he has been treated with steroids, and has been taking baths in deer antler blood.
Steroids are a common drug treatment for thyroid cancer and can cause anxiety and hallucinations. They also are known to cause bloating and facial puffiness, which some media reports have noticed in Putin.
The question now is how long before Putin’s transformation into Raskolnikov becomes complete. How long before Putin’s crime chapters end and the punishment chapters begin?
Evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine is being collected, and appears to be plentiful. Putin subordinates, and perhaps the man himself, might be charged as war criminals to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.
Putin probably never will be put on trial, and certainly never will see the inside of a prison cell. Things like that do not happen to the rich and powerful in today’s world.
And certainly, the mental and spiritual rebirth experienced by Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment never will be experienced by Putin, the thin-skinned KBG thug who lacks substance and soul.
His punishment will come when his health problem, or the outrage of his own people, can no longer be contained.
Cancer can be contained, but not so the anguish of thousands of moms and dads whose soldier sons and daughters never returned from Ukraine. Nor can the disgust the world feels for Russia, which already had a reputation as a dark and ugly place.