Russian to the Core

The hostage debacle over, Vladimir Putin talks tough but still defers too much to the security forces. Is he blinded by his pride?

As they watched the horror at a Moscow theater unfold live on television last month, some Russians must have wondered what exactly their President, Vladimir Putin, was doing. During the three days that Chechen rebels held more than 800 people hostage in the Theater Center on Dubrovka, the Kremlin released only a few, silent images of Putin, in his office talking with aides--prompting one exasperated news presenter to bring on a lip-reader to try to work out what Putin was saying. The President's website reported that he was "immediately" informed of the hostage situation at 11:10 p.m. on Oct. 23, though...

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