Is Putin a Great Leader?

Topics: Russia, Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin Pages: 4 (1454 words) Published: November 13, 2008
Bibliography: Le Monde diplomatique novembre, octobre 2008

Putin: Is he a great leader?

At first, Putin as the Time’s Person of the Year can be shocking considering the many issues Russia has to face on (the lack of democracy for example). But as the Time says, this title is “a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world –for better or worse. It is ultimately about leadership”. So is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin a great leader? Indeed “he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of power”, but in order to be great Putin has to ensure that his country will stay stable after he leaves the government (as president or Prime minister)

In 2000, when Putin took over President of Russia, he became the leader of a country on the verge of becoming a failed state… eight years later, Russia as dramatically changed, and for the better. With two mandates, Putin set up a vast operation of State reconstruction through the reinforcement of the administration authority, a come back on the international scene and the distraint upon economy. The Eltsin years destabilized the Kremlin so much that it couldn’t assure its regalia functions. Many regions were stronger that the federal center and had their own legislations that, on certain major points, were contrary to the federal laws. But in 2000, Putin’s government created seven federal circumscriptions headed by Putin’s men that had all powers to make the Kremlin law respected. He also fought against the corruption and the inefficiency of the administration. Concerning the international scene, Russia is back to be part of the Great nations (Russia is now the eight member of the G8) but in 2000, its situation was not that prestigious considering that after the Cold war, USSR...

Bibliography: Le Monde diplomatique novembre, octobre 2008
Putin: Is he a great leader?
At first, Putin as the Time’s Person of the Year can be shocking considering the many issues Russia has to face on (the lack of democracy for example). But as the Time says, this title is “a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world –for better or worse. It is ultimately about leadership”. So is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin a great leader? Indeed “he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of power”, but in order to be great Putin has to ensure that his country will stay stable after he leaves the government (as president or Prime minister)
In 2000, when Putin took over President of Russia, he became the leader of a country on the verge of becoming a failed state… eight years later, Russia as dramatically changed, and for the better. With two mandates, Putin set up a vast operation of State reconstruction through the reinforcement of the administration authority, a come back on the international scene and the distraint upon economy. The Eltsin years destabilized the Kremlin so much that it couldn’t assure its regalia functions. Many regions were stronger that the federal center and had their own legislations that, on certain major points, were contrary to the federal laws. But in 2000, Putin’s government created seven federal circumscriptions headed by Putin’s men that had all powers to make the Kremlin law respected. He also fought against the corruption and the inefficiency of the administration.
Concerning the international scene, Russia is back to be part of the Great nations (Russia is now the eight member of the G8) but in 2000, its situation was not that prestigious considering that after the Cold war, USSR lost 1/5th of its territory, its army was not able to repress the rebellion in Chechnya, its old satellites (Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland) joined the OTAN… Moreover, after supporting the US and its war against terrorism, Russia felt betrayed when the same US financially backed up the “colored revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia. But it was the last humiliation, the last diktat imposed by the West. Through its economy and especially through its energy resources Russia managed to be considered again as a major actor on the international issues. For instance, Putin used his energy advantage to put Ukraine and Georgia under control. Putin also declared that he and his country will not abandoned Serbia on the Kosovo issue which independence is supported by Americans and the European Union.
In 1992 the radical change of economy (from a socialist economy to capitalism) wrecked the Russian economy. For example, between 1990 and 1998, the GDP took a heavy toll, slumped of 45% and the country entered in a period of “super-inflation”. But in 2001, Putin and its political party: Russia United, repealed many reforms and took over many private industries or made them public. Putin invested on the Russian natural resources to boost the economy growth. For instance the State became the major shareholder of Gazprom, the first producer of oil (87% of the national production). He also made a deal with the old oligarchies: if they don’t want the administration go through their illegal affairs (like they did with Boris Berezovski or Mikhaïl Khodorkovski), they have to support the government in its will to rebuild the Russian economic framework without interfering with politics. Thus Putin supported a new elite that took the economic and politic power and replaced the oligarchies from the Eltsin years. Putin build a State capitalism or “administrated capitalism” to serve the Russian international ambitions and uses the natural resources as a bargaining weapon with its neighbors and the Westerns countries, more and more dependant of the Russian supplies of gaz.
Putin, with his will and authority, gave Russia stability after the turbulences caused by the Eltsin presidency. Putin gave the Russian people a strong state, and that’s why Putin is popular in Russia, that’s what makes Putin a strong leader. But as Kissinger said “a leader becomes great if he institutionalizes a system, if it doesn’t become totally dependant on one person”.
Putin has still a long way to go to become a great leader. He and Russia have to overcome three major flaws: the lack of democracy, its economy only based on natural resources and its society issues such as corruption and alcoholism. The major critic on the Putin’s Russia is its lack of democracy. Indeed, the legislatives in December 2007 were criticized by most of the Western countries. They stressed the fact that the elections weren’t free elections. Indeed Edinnaïa Rossia, Putin’s party and majority at the Duma, had many more advantages than the opposition’s parties. Its proximity to the Kremlin helped the “party in power”, United Russia, to have access to many authorizations the other parties were refused: time on TV, justice’s help… Moreover United Russia is so powerful that it started to look like the Communist Party under the soviet era. Thus, in 2006, the Kremlin created Spravedlivaïa Rossia, an “factice” opposition. Besides most of the private newspapers and TV channels (created when the USRR ended) are now State-own through big public companies such as Gasprom or Rosneft. For example, with Putin’s help (who wanted to control the oligarchies) Vladimir Goussinski’s and Boris Berezobski’s media empires crashed, and in 2001, Gasprom bought NTV. Also the Duma, controlled by Putin’s political party, repealed a “law on extremism” which is a dangerous threat to the media considering that this law makes the media responsible for what they report. For example, if the speech of a political leader is considered as “extremist” (by the authorities), the media who broadcasts them will also be responsible for the “extremist” content. All these examples highlight the lack of democracy which discredits Russia on the international scene. To become a great leader, Putin has to make the Russian government strong enough to last, even if he’s not president or prime minister anymore.
Russia’s essential wealth comes from the natural resources the country has in abundance. Indeed the exportations of hydrocarbons and metals represent 82% of the Russian exportations and its incomings from these resources represent more than 40% of the budget incomings. Unfortunately this kind of development creates a few jobs: only 3% of the population is employed by the extraction and metal industry. This model also weakens the industry by making the Russian economy and wealth dependant of the evolution of the oil prices. Besides, the “Dutch sickness” starts to impact on the Russia’s economy. This “Dutch sickness” describes this phenomenon: the incredible wealth produced with the natural resources tend to make the other industry sectors less competitive (such as the manufacturing industry) by monopolizing the human resources, creating inflation and increasing unproductive expenses and bureaucracy. Russia also suffers from a weak bank sector and investments are not nearly enough for a country in transition that needs to modernize its economic framework: 18% of its GDP whereas in Chinese investments represents 45% of its GDP. Thus it seems that Vladimir Putin should also invest more on other sector of its industries to make Russia less dependant of the instable oil market.
Corruption is on of the biggest problem Russia has to face on, but the anti-corruption politics are also a problem. Indeed anti-corruption raids are used by Vladimir Putin as a political weapon to give a signal to mafias, oligarchies and administration. In a country where corruption is everywhere, at every level of the society, the Kremlin uses anti-corruption offensives to arrest its enemies or political contestations. Besides, Russian society has many more issues. Even though the Russian economic growth is spectacular with 6,4%, and Russia is now the tenth economy in the world, Russia in only 65th on the HDI list. First, the demographic transition of Russia is over, its population gets older and its birthrates are low, thus Russia, as many other European countries needs immigration. But Russian people are quite suspicious towards foreigners especially foreigners from the old satellites and the government increases the tension and the xenophobic reactions thought its laws. Moreover, Russian people’s health keeps getting worse. Indeed, the excessively high masculine mortality is caused buy alcohol. 43% of the death of men in age to work is caused by alcohol. The other issue is the high rate of suicide: the second in the world after Lituania.
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