Putin's Russia: slowing the pendulum without stopping the clock



Vladimir Putin has been president of Russia for eighteen months, sufficienttime for some judgement about his style of leadership and achievements to have been made. He set out to restore order to a Russia that was fragmenting in Yeltsin's latter years and to revive Russians' pride in their country. Nonetheless, he remains committed to a liberal market economy integrated with the world economy. He encouraged force to bring order to Chechnya, but has not really tackled the problem of reconstruction. He has brought the regions under greater control by the centre, but has been prepared to compromise to avoid confrontation. His most tangible achievement to date has been in championing legislation, most of it long overdue, to establish the legal basis of a market economy. He has been able to exploit a working majority in the parliament, which Yeltsin never enjoyed. The success of this enterprise will depend to some degree on its political context. Persistent efforts by Putin and his team to exert control over the political process and the media will be counterproductive if they concentrate power with the president but leave him without broadly based, independent political support. Putin is likely to remain in power until 2008, however, so he has time on his side.