An extract from....
Below Surface, U.S. Harbors Dim View of Putin and Russia
State’s Secrets Day 4
A 2008 campaign ad in Moscow heralds the team of Vladimir V. Putin and Dmitri A. Medvedev:
"Together we will win."
By C.J. Chivers
Thursday, December 2, 2010
In reporting to Washington, diplomats often summarized impressions from meetings not with Russian officials, but with Western colleagues or business executives. The impressions of a largely well-known cadre of Russian journalists, opposition politicians and research institute regulars rounded out many cables, with insights resembling what was published in liberal Russian newspapers and on Web sites.
The cables sketched life almost 20 years after the Soviet Union’s disintegration, a period, as the cables noted, when Mr. Medvedev, the prime minister’s understudy, is the lesser part of a strange “tandemocracy” and “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman.” All the while, another cable noted, “Stalin’s ghost haunts the Metro.”

And one from....
Pervasive Afghan Graft, Starting at the Top
State’s Secrets Day 5
By Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins
Friday, December 3, 2010
In September, President Obama acknowledged the dilemma. "Are there going to be occasions where we look and see that some of our folks on the ground have made compromises with people who are known to have engaged in corruption?" he asked. "There may be occasions where that happens."
Western officials, it [one of the cables] said, "walk a thin tightrope when working with this allegedly corrupt official [Colonel Abdul Razziq] who is also a major security stabilizating force.
  On the Day 4 article:
  I just like the diplomats' idioms and use of 'Stalin's ghost' on the Metro (although I suppose that these could be attributed to their Western colleagues as well as the American ones).
  On the Day 5 article:
  Go read the original Flashman book to see how little the area has changed.
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