Read My Lips

Everybody Loves Vladimir Putin

Our most compelling quotes on whether people still support President Putin.

Will Putin meet the challenges facing Russia head on?

Takeaways


Ever since Vladimir Putin took office in March 2000, Russia has undergone significant changes. Seen as a man who could "unify" Russia, Vladimir Putin has enjoyed enormous popularity. But all is far from well. Will President Putin be able to meet Russia’s challenges? Our Read My Lips feature examines how people in Russia — and around the world — feel about Russia’s second post-Communist leader.

Secretary Powell, how do you explain Mr. Putin's mission in Russia?

“I think what Putin is trying to do is restore pride among the Russian people, trying to embed democracy in the Russian system.”

(U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, July 2001)

Where does Putin rank among post-Soviet leaders?

“He’s not a tougher Mikhail Gorbachev, or a more sober Boris Yeltsin. He is Russia’s first Deng Xiaoping.”

(Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times columnist, December 2001)

Do others share this ambivalent evaluation of Vladimir Putin?

“Putin is a very bright but extremely dangerous character. A Napoleon.”

(Marc Faber, managing director of Marc Faber Limited, January 2002)

Is Mr. Putin’s style similar to that of his predecessor Mikhail Gorbachev?

“The Kremlin is very sensitive to accusations that Putin is like Mikhail Gorbachev — naively pursuing pro-Western policy without gaining anything for Russia.”

(Alexander Pikayev, foreign policy expert at Carnegie’s Moscow Center, March 2003)

How does Putin compare to Russian Czars?

“Putin is a bit like Peter the Great, opening to the West for capital and technology — but at the same time, recentralizing Russia and reinforcing authoritarian rule.”

(Hungarian diplomat, February 2001)

What characterizes President Putin’s relationship with Russia’s oligarchs?

“The irony is that all of them dream of being not in opposition to Mr. Putin — but rather being his closest ally.”

(Sergei Markov, a Russian political analyst, July 2000)

What is Mr. Putin’s attitude toward terrorism?

“Russia will not give in to any blackmail.”

(Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, October 2002)

Is Mr. Putin concerned about Russia’s economy?

“In the past, Russia has tried to convince the world of its greatness by building rockets that showed off its might. Putin has concentrated on the economy — with essentially the same in mind.”

(Roland Nash, head of research at Renaissance Capital, March 2003)

Why does President Putin enjoy so much leverage in Europe?

“When Mr. Putin makes official visits, he knows that half of Europe depends on him for natural gas. That gets him a place at the table.”

(Boris Fyodorov, former Russian Finance Minister and member of the board of Gazprom, May 2002)

What does U.S. President George W. Bush think of his Russian counterpart?

"I looked the man in the eye — and I was able to get a sense of his soul."

(U.S. President George W. Bush, June 2001)

And finally, what is one cogent definition of Mr. Putin's politics?

“This is Putinism: From Das Kapital to DOScapital.”

(Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times columnist, December 2001)

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