The New York Times

The Putin I Knew; the Putin I Know

I MET VLADIMIR PUTIN AND TRUSTED HIM IN THE EARLY 1990S, WHEN HE WAS DEPUTY MAYOR OF ST. PETERSBURG. NOW THAT HE’S RUSSIA’S PRESIDENT, HE’S DIFFERENT. HE’S NO FRIEND OF DEMOCRACY.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia celebrated the new year by having an American tourist, Paul Whelan, arrested as a spy. Whelan was in Moscow to attend a wedding. But Putin needed a hostage as a potential trade for a Russian woman with Kremlin connections — Maria Butina, who had pleaded guilty of conspiring with a Russian official “to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.” So Putin grabbed Whelan, who has not been released.

Of course Putin did that. I’ve known

This article originally appeared in .

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