Cultural Revolutions

Victory for Putin

Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory on March 26 was hailed by businessmen both East and West as a new beginning for economic reform in Russia. One German executive praised what he called Putin's "open, friendly attitude" to investors, while others longed for Putin to become a Russian Pinochet, a strongman who would use an "iron fist to force reform. The "national patriots," the loose alliance of communists and nationalists who had decried the "anti-people" regime of the Yeltsin years, are in a state of shock. The People's Patriotic Union has all but dissolved, some of its members having opted to back Putin rather than the coalition's candidate. Communist Party leader Gennadi Zyuganov. Zyuganov himself campaigned quite cautiously, rarely criticizing Putin personally, appearing satisfied that he had somehow kept the party together. After all, Putin's actions in Chechnya, his talking back to the West, and his promises of law and order made him a difficult target for the "patriots." The Russian public sees the confident, even cocky, little man as their best hope for the rebirth of a great Russia.

There are, however, some facts that will likely queer the pitch of any Russian leader with visions of a rebirth of Russian greatness dancing in his head. For instance, there can be no rebirth of a great Russia without the birth of Russians. On March 22, the Russian State...

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