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Russia's Charles de Gaulle

 

Most crucially, Putinís vision draws a decisive line under the recent times of revolutionary upheavals and cataclysms. Putin strongly condemns radicalism of every hue, be it Communist, national-patriotic, or radical-liberal, and vows to offer the nation a ďstrategy of Russiaís revival and prosperity implemented only by evolutionary, gradual and prudent methods.Ē Putinís accent on gradualism emphasizes the need for political stability, social accord, and ensuring decent living standards for Russian citizens. 

 
Vladimir Putin. Photo: kremlin.ru

The image that Putinís article and his subsequent public statements project is that of a rational politician who is both a statist and a liberal conservative. Guided by what he considers to be Russiaís national interests, he is a supporter of order and discipline, but one who understands the need for Russia to lure foreign investment and develop market mechanisms. His priorities are a strong Russia, capable of standing up, politically and economically, for itself; a strong state, which has the ability and the will to enforce its authority on the civil society; and a strong center, which keeps the regions under control. His vision of a strong state power does not spell the reversal of the process of political and economic liberalization, but only the removal of the distortions, which had rendered Russia weak.

Putinís vision of a developed, prosperous, and reinvigorated Russia resonates with prevailing attitudes in Russian society. Some compare him to Yuri Andropov and the Chilean general Augusto Pinochet, but his supporters choose instead Charles de Gaulle, the democratically elected patriotic French general with an autocratic style. They say that even in a democratic society a political leader could be strong in enforcing the state authority if his goal is to bring to the people the benefits of the free market without the evils of the corporate jungle and to encourage private firms without letting them dictate to the state. Russia seems to have found in Putin a strong and able statesman who may be able to curb the free-for-all nature of post-communist politics and business practices, and uphold discipline, law, and order.

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