Letter From Moscow: The Needs of the Many

Putin's mishandling of the Kursk submarine crisis tells us he cares less for the citizen than for the state

Even after he was elected Russia's President last March, Vladimir Putin remained a riddle. Was he really, as his own staff members whispered, a cautious reformer who had learned his stuff in St. Petersburg during the early years of perestroika? Or was he the product of his training and times--a middle-level KGB officer whose views had been formed during a period when the Soviet Union seemed, on the surface at least, a mighty power? Thanks to the Kursk submarine debacle, which cost 118 lives, the guessing game is over. Putin is a gosudarstvennik--a believer in a strong state.

The claims of...

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