Xavier, you know me from many other discussions, so you're probably a bit surprised that I am criticizing Putin. I like Russia, I was born there and spent a good portion of my childhood there. Its a beautiful country with rich history and so much interesting things about it. But I am also very well educated and not stupid, I read and understand a lot more than the media feeds us. I lived in Russia and now a proud citizen of Canada, and consider myself Canadian first, Russian second.
After a few years in Canada, I fully understood the magnitude of lies and bullshit that is Russia. It has been run by thieves and crooks (and even more than sometimes: murderers) for centuries, for most of its existence. I think the last time it was run by an honest and great leader was under the reign of Tsar Alexander II. Go figure, he got assassinated. He was the one who freed the serfs. But enough of history here.
The point is, throughout Russian history, politicians and activists came and went to try to reform Russia and make it an honest and civilized country. But that never ever happened, and will probably NEVER happen. Pyotr Stolypin was the last great reformer, before World War I, and ironically he got assassinated by the very people he tried to help. Ironically, today, the same type of Russian political elite he battled against for reform, is trying to steal Stolypin for their own political gains. Plenty of irony in everyday Russia.
Putin is a crook, he has been caught in a massive fraud while during the 90s when he worked in mayor's office in St. Petersburg. Most of the people who tirelessly worked to keep those facts alive are now dead, either by natural causes or assassinated/poisoned.
So many good people have been brutally abused, maimed or murdered or silenced in Russia in recent years. The list is huge, and it's not just the pro-democracy activists or politicians who dare to question the Kremlin. But also - children, teachers, bankers, doctors, lawyers, environmental activists and anyone who dared to speak against the establishment or was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I used to like Putin, but over the years I learned to realize that he is nothing more than a crook and a Tsar. He is mainly building a legacy of himself for the history books, and the history taught in Russian schools is quite manipulated to say the least. I learned that from experience. Did you know that Putin actually created his current image through much practice and watching videos of himself? Recently I read about how history books in Russia that are used in schools are approved straight from the Kremlin. In fact, Putin took out of circulation the versions that he thought were not patriotic enough, these didn't have the spin that the hierarchy wanted, their vision of the glorious Motherland.
There's something about those Kremlin walls: once you seize power in Russia, the Kremlin spirits take over you and you do not want to relinquish power, under any circumstances. They outta tear it down and maybe then the leaders will see things more clearly. Or else the brain drain will continue.
Whenever you go and buy something, you are affecting someone somewhere, be it environment, a person, or a community - you're making a statement with what you buy. So make it a smart choice ... Its a big picture