The Acid-Bath Solution

Want to watch some billionaires scream? Just tune into Putin's slow roasting of Russia's powerful elite

Everything about Vladimir Putin--his choreographed public appearances, his rigid media management, his appointment of supergovernors to keep the regions under control--suggests a control freak. Yet his presidency has been marked by a series of gaffes that have undermined his image abroad and caused storms of anger at home. Instead of cleaning up politics, his many critics say, he has created a mess. In some ways, they are right. But there is another side to the story. Putin's tactics have gone down well in a country where many Russians would happily turn the clock back to the pre-Gorbachev era. His attacks are...

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