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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
New start for Russia?
So does the vote herald a new beginning for Russia - an end to the unpredictability and uncertainty of the Yeltsin era, and the start of a new and more decisive period?
Vladimir Putin has been portrayed by some as an 'action man' with the vision and determination to steer the right course for his country. But the verdict is out on which direction he will take.
What do you think - is Russia at a turning-point - or will the election change little outside the Kremlin?
Yevgenia Arutyunyan, Russia (student in USA)
Putin should focus on two things that will bring major changes to Russia economic situation.
1.Direct Control of Chechnya
2.Controlling the Caspian basin.
So now you know why there is a vicious Information war against Russia.
Hector Viceria, Spain
All I saw from Putin is his miserable
War in Chechnya. Putin lacks the basic
skills of negotiation and will lead Russia into
Vladimir Putin is a dangerous, rapacious, belligerent demagogue. Putin may try a Soviet resurgence without communism. The World should be wary of Russia.
The very mention of communism, the red flag, the hammer & sickle, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho-Chi-Minh, Castro, Pol-Pot, send a chill down my spine. Mr Putin, being from the KGB, sends an even colder chill throughout the body.
Putin looks like a good leader for the Russian people, It is a known fact that the entire Russian federation is in trouble.
Russia has been evolving and changing ever since Gorbachov. Economic realities have forced further change. A strong leader is needed to continue the changes started by former leaders. With all the changes happening in Europe and China, Russia needs to re-invent itself and probably ally itself with Europe for future peace and the promise of stability for economic recovery.
Already you are seeing a big influx of people into the Government who have KSG or FSB backgrounds. There are also stories of old soviet style tactics being used against journalists.
What Russia needs after several years of Yeltsin rule is a strong leader to get her back on her feet again. I think Putin fits the bill quite nicely.
Being a Polish citizen I think that a win for Putin should put us Poles on red alert. Russian foreign policy has many times worked to the detriment of our national reputation, and this state of affairs is likely to increase with Putin remaining in power.
As such an administrative option is hardly possible in these more politically-correct times, one must wait for the new generation of Russians who, unlike their parents, won't have had every last atom of personal initiative squeezed out of them.
David Robson, Australia
Here's to the new boss, just the same as the old boss...
ad infinitum ad nausem.
Compare Putin to Gore/Bush...they all get elected without announcing any policies worth a light but at least Vlad doesn't have to spend $80m!! Looks like his economic policy has started well!
Well I reckon now that Putin has won that the troubles in Chechnya will continue.
But on the other hand that there will be a shake up of the Russian society as well.
The millions of poverty stricken individuals on the bread line feel that they are on the up again. And at least it is the psychology which counts.
The older generation in Russia suffered that tail end of Communism and its institutional corruption, then the rule by Oligarchs and Yeltsin's corruption, so their main interest in Putin is whether he can clean things up rather than if he can "change Russia".
Jon Livesey, USA
Yes, definitely this might be a turning point in Russia's history. Putin looks promising, he is young, he is strong, he is healthy and smart in comparison with Yeltsin.
The handling of the terrorists of Chechnya is a great decision taken by Putin and all the other countries facing Militancy should take the step of Russia in crushing fundamentalist Islamic militancy. Putin's victory will show new corridors of co-operation with developing countries. Mother Russia has now got a able leader to sail in the 21st century. Hope the faded Russian glory is once again regained.
Naveen V, India
At last Russia got a leader who does not go to hospital three days per week. He can only do better.
What is vital is that Europe and the USA help and encourage Russia. A strong stable Russia will mean a strong stable friend. An economically prosperous Russia will also ensure that regions such as Chechnya will not resort to banditry.
Patrick Smith, England
How do people expect such an undemocratic person to further the course of democratic Russia? Putin is not a modern man and does not know the values of democracy and negotiation. All he knows is war and force. How can he rule Russia?
To those who propose that the arrival of Putin to office will bring about world war three, I would advise them to look at the current situation with a little more than hyped or propagandic paranoia.
Putin has professed a desire to co-operate with Nato, and there is no evidence whatsoever of two alliance blocks forming.
That would be a disaster as Communism has always failed miserably to help the people it is supposed to and we (the west) would be in Cold War II - The even more expensive sequel.
The people who know most about Putin, the Russians themselves, have voted him in. As for the rest of the World, well as I live in the second most insular country in the World after the US, I don't see how we can pontificate from inside our glass houses about what WE think will happen in Russia.
Putin's victory happened according to God's will. We should pray for Putin. It is our Christian duty.
Giles Mahoney, UK
Whether he can do what he sets out to do is another matter all together. But he certainly seems to have the right credentials. He seems tough, clever, and focussed.
Riz Rahim, USA
I think a win for Putin will be a turning point for Russia, because he is a strong man. On the other hand Russia will get back its respect in the international community, because Putin will follow a hard line with the west, in an attempt to gain some of Soviet legacy. Also a strong Russia will be good for the world, because it will make some balance in the world stage with the United States.
Societies change in slow, incremental steps; Russian society is unlikely to be any different. The chances are that the transformation of Russia from communism to a less state-controlled society will be an excruciatingly slow process, irrespective of who occupies the Kremlin.
I think stability will depend on Russian people believing in their leaders whoever they are and they seem to have a pretty strong trust in Putin, but there is still a discontent that not the right person is available. If there are no perfect solutions then maybe a steady change instead of radical overturn might just be a welcome break needed by the old country.
George G., USA
I think that everybody is waiting too much for Mr. Putin. He could shake Russia but he can not change the system of power because he is part of that. We know from Russian history that Kremlin leaders think first of all about their own security and only after that how nation could be improved. Mr. Putin even does not have yet a programme.
As the BBC is persistently negative and pessimistic, I would like to counter its prevailing attitude by hoping for increased stability for Russia under Putin and the hope too that the country can start to benefit from its immense resources.
True, Putin might have a more authoritarian hand in ruling than did Yelstin, but frankly I think might not be all bad for Russia at this point. Organised crime is a real problem, and extreme measures might be needed to combat it. Putin's seems genuinely to desire a more prosperous country, and he realises that free market economic reforms are crucial to that goal.
David Habecker, China (but I am a US citizen)
Russia is very young to have a conclusion. This election is just a another beginning for a little bit better Russia. Mr. Putin must put his mind and thought to acknowledge the Russia's interests that only can further productive Russia to the world. No matter what Mr. Putin must not forget what happened to Russia and why happened. As long as he can understand and successfully acknowledg them down the road Russia will have positive Change. Good luck to Russia.
Clearly the danger in Russia is its collectively abysmal self-esteem. What is most worrisome is the general feeling in Russia that the Chechnyan campaign is good. Could this small victory make the Russian Bear hungry for similar success? Meaning, could a reformed Soviet Union desire its satellite states back? And then be bold enough to go and conquer them one by one...I personally feel that we are watching the alignment of nations for a potential WWIII...
Mark Schofield, France
Pimenov Ilya, Russia
The so-called Decade of Russian democracy was a time of increased suffering for the majority of people inside Russia. While a new cast of super rich emerged. Putin, like Yeltsin, represents those.
He even dragged his pregnant wife with him, or was she so eager to meet a new Irod who has Chechen newborn babies blood on his hands and talk babies with his wife? I am ashamed to be British with a PM like Phony Tony, he certainly does not represent me or any of my family or friends. Who does he represent? KGB supporters? What a way to go! Let's stay away from this mad duo.
Anya Lauchlan, UK
Russia needs a strong leader and Putin
is its best choice. He needs to thwart
the US and UK imperialistic colonialism
around the world.
We can't point a finger to the FSB in relation to the apartment bombing, simply because we hate Russia, and it is ridiculous to compare Putin with Hitler, we must remember that the Russians fought and sacrificed to save the human civilisation from Hitler, for this reason, the west must encourage the future president of Russia and Chechnya to start negotiation and find a solution to the human suffering and destruction.
In addition he is following the same one-track philosophy of Russian leaders who need a "small victorious war" to extricate themselves from domestic problems.
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, UK
If Putin really is a person that he is portraying himself in the media (strong and not compromising with the corruption), then his election will be a turning point for Russia. However, any election campaign (even in Russia) is a big show, therefore it is not easy to predict all the surprises that the elected President can bring (Clinton is a good example).
I wish Mr Putin all the best, and he should get his act together and put back Russia where it belongs, as a major world player. A world in which the USA has a free unchallenged hand is a very unsafe world indeed, Russia should not follow the UK in becoming the Puppy dog of the United States.
Yavlinsky will win the Russian election by a huge majority.
Although it is fair to say that Russia is now a country being born again its oligarchs are now creating a new middle class which will not want to be involved in crony capitalism. But for the vast majority the next decade is going to be sheer hell and worse for the Chechens who won't even have their own land.
Vladimir is a tricky person, so is where his leadership comes from. His political views are influenced by the former President, Boris Yeltsin. Not only that, but Yeltsin had trust in him. The biggest question is what sort of trust. To continue, from where Boris himself left off, or to bring change?
Putin is a hoodlum brought in by Yeltsin to make sure he and his cronies stay fireproof forever. Putin's first act was to decree Yeltsin immune from justice, his second to order his secret-service cronies to bomb the Moscow apartment blocks that gave him his excuse for the rape of Chechnya.
The Chechnya dispute is Putin's ticket to presidency. By annihilating helpless civilians he is aiming to win the 'hearts and minds' of the Russian people. Is this not what Stalin did?????
Alexander KIrenkov, Russia
Putin - a strong leader but what will he do to strengthen the Russian "special services" like SVR, FSB, GRU etc. It sounds as if he is going to make them stronger and threaten the West more. Scary!
A lot has been said about the partnership between Russia and the West since the collapse of communism. But, in fact, the West is reluctant to treat Russia as an equal partner. NATO's eastward expansion, its war against Yugoslavia and the coverage of the war in Chechnya by Western media outlets demonstrate the true value of all these talk about partnership. The only thing that makes the West act with some restraint towards Russia is Russia's nuclear arsenal.
Ian Robson, Great Britain
Western Europe could do no worse than try and cultivate links with Putin should he win the election. Europe's future lays with a stable Russia, and less with, it would appear, on an increasingly unstable United States. The Russia of the future is a land of investment opportunities, oil, gas etc. Europe should get in before the rest of the world takes a share. Sometimes one needs to swallow a little humble pie and just grin and bear it. Russia now has a grip upon democracy; it may not be the democracy of the west, but democracy nonetheless. It could be worse, Berlin could still be divided city, and Russia could still be called the USSR. Putin is probably the best of a bad bunch like it or lump it.
If Putin can reverse the negative of effects of the "shock therapy" used to change to a free market based economy he might have a chance. However this is highly unlikely since the new oligarchs are just as greedy and self interested as those throughout the world and it is highly improbable that they will give anything up for the common good.
The election will deliver a mandate to the president - and it looks as though Putin will get the vote of rather a lot of people - he will be their choice.
The West has little to do other than accept, at this time, the choice of the people of Russia - it is not the choice "Western Liberals" would make - but Russia is not a Western Liberal Democracy.
Putin is nothing more than a puppet. He is certainly not a politician, he has not a single policy. Anyone that thinks Russia will change for the better is unrealistic. There is hard evidence in relation to the apartment bombings that clearly points a finger to the FSB, which means Putin. What we will also see no doubt is that his whole stance in Chechnya will change after the elections. I thought the Picture of Blair with a suspected war criminal shows in colour New Labours Ethical foreign policy!
Russia never had a real democracy except for, may be, a few months of the Provisional Government in 1917, so the forseeable future of that country looks pretty dim with Putin in power or with somebody else. It may take generations to see Russia as a real democracy.
I hope that Vladimir Putin can extricate Russia from its difficulties, because he seems to be a real leader who says what he thinks and does what he says. However the strange thing about his career is that he has risen from nothing to Russian leader in a very shot period of time. So he must have some powerful supporters.
Western leaders and journalists should
realise that Russian people are tired of
their economic, political, and media
advice. Ordinary people have suffered
greatly in the last few years, and they do not
believe that privatisation and IMF advice will make life any better.
That is why Putin is so popular - he
resists any outside pressure.
I don't find any difference between Putin, Hitler and Milosevic. After the First World War Germany had a devastated economy. People were unemployed and corruption was rampant. Hitler took this as an opportunity to grab power. He ignited the fire among Germans by saying, "you are the rulers of the world and the rest of the world are your slaves". As a result of this we got WW2, Jewish Holocaust. Post Cold War Russian economy is as same as that of post WW1 German economy. Putin is igniting a fire amongst Russians by saying, "Don't forget you are the superpower of the world". So, attack innocent Chechnya. What his army is doing against the innocent Chechen public is same as Hitler Army did to the Jews, and Milosevic did to Bosnians and Kosovars.
Elmar Chakhtakhtinski, USA/ Azerbaijan
It'll make no difference whatsoever! This RAS Putin of a leader is no better than the Serbian leader who massacred the people of Kosovo, etc. - Milosevic - a man that Putin admires! Their media lies to the people, and will continue to do so! The only change in Russia is its ongoing demise, and for Tony Blair to go there and party with this Stalin in Yeltsin's clothing is a disgrace! Why isn't he going to Serbia and partying with Putin's hero?
Chechnya is not Putin's only ticket to the presidency. Recent opinion polls show that more (30%) Russians are sure this conflict will take months or years and cost a lot of money and quite a few lives. Over half of the people asked were more concerned with their family, inflation, employment, and crime. Putin doesn't have any bad habits, he doesn't talk (and promise) too much, but sounds intelligent, none of his opponents can accuse him of corruption; besides personal qualities, he hasn't done anything radically unpopular over the last six months. Russians are sure it will be a new start for them, with something really new - a leader they like.
Putin is a strangely one-dimensional man, having been tied mostly with Chechnya. His meteoric rise and his popularity have more or less cleansed the ballot of more familiar names. Russia is at a critical turning point, and he is Russia's Chauncey Gardner, the fascinating main character of Kosinski's "Being There." Nobody really knows, least of all the US and other Western countries, as to how to plan for a Putin era, due to begin in Russia after the March 26 elections. Perhaps for the first time in our dealings with Russia (& the Soviet Union before that) that we know so little about the man at the helm there.
Dr Riz Rahim, USA
Russia has been bereft of leadership virtually since 1917 - the only glimmer of hope being Gorbachev, who was very quickly brushed aside. It's something that there are presidential elections being held, but I don't think anything is going to change. The people are too inured to the corruption, hypocrisy and mis-management that has run their affairs so disastrously, for so long.
I hope Russia becomes a stable and prosperous country - I would love to visit there one day, but the West must do more to stop the still existing Cold War feelings between the West and Russia. Mind you, as Russia does become stronger, NATO and the US will not be able to make decisions like it did with Yugoslavia and simply ignore Russia!!!
Gary Holcombe, UK
Did the nature of the Russian rulers change after the revolution in 1917. All they did was change from a royal despot to a communist despot. Stalin killed just as many Russian peasants as the worst Czar. Will it change now? Perhaps a song would help, "Here's to the new boss...."
Mr. Putin is definitely not a cocky mini-tyrant but a real leader, as real as politicians can be. He deserves all support in his current policies and ambitions. This support may have one condition and that is that he keeps the expansionist and communist elements of Russian society under control because they are there; waiting in the shadows like nazis in some other countries.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland
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