The Ice-Cold Strategy

Vladimir Putin is running a passionless campaign and hinting at sweeping reforms that lie ahead

The 1996 presidential elections in Russia were a cliff-hanger. Boris Yeltsin began with single-digit approval ratings and pleas from some top aides to cancel the polls rather than face certain defeat. He not only risked losing, he risked dying. A major heart attack after the first round was carefully hushed up, but the sight of an overweight candidate with a drinking problem and major health problems boogying on the stage scared his doctors witless. This time there will be no near-death experiences and no onstage dancing, if Vladimir Putin has his way. Russia's acting President wants a dull, predictable election. His...

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