Vladamir Putin: “The world’s most popular leader”?

By Mike Whitney

12/01/07 “ICH ” — — – On Sunday, Russians will vote in their country’s parliamentary elections. The results are a foregone conclusion. Putin’s party, United Russia, is expected to win in a landslide. The only question is whether the margin of victory will exceed 70%. If it does, then Putin will continue to be the most powerful player in Russian politics even after he steps down from office next year.

Vladamir Putin is arguably the most popular leader in Russian history, although you’d never know it by reading the western media. According to a recent survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Putin’s personal approval rating in November 2007 was 85% making him the most popular head of state in the world today. Putin’s popularity derives from many factors. He is personally clever and charismatic. He is fiercely nationalistic and has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of ordinary Russians and restore the country to its former greatness. He has raised over 20 million Russians out of grinding poverty, improved education, health care and the pension system, (partially) nationalized critical industries, lowered unemployment, increased manufacturing and exports, invigorated Russian markets, strengthened the ruble, raised the overall standard of living, reduced government corruption, jailed or exiled the venal oligarchs, and amassed capital reserves of $450 billion.

If there’s a downside to Putin’s legacy, it’s hard to see.

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