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In Moscow, the season of flowers is the season of doubts. Spring 2002 has been a season of doubts in Moscow. That does not mean that President Vladimir Putin’s power has been called into doubt. With his grip firmly on the media, the Duma still subdued and oligarchs on the quiet side, the president does not look challenged – at least directly.
However, Russian politics have changed since the late 1990s. People support a power that brings stability and prosperity, even if it is a bit authoritarian in its actions. What matters this spring is that economic growth looks threatened. This is the most important political event. If Russia’s economy drops again into stagnation (or maybe depression) by the end of 2002, then Putin’s image could be much more seriously tarnished. This is not to be ignored, as 2003 will be an election year for the parliament (the Duma) and 2004 will again elect the President.
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Houston, TX - November 4-5
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