ISSUE 4-2017
Роман Темников
Дмитрий Дубов Степан Григорян Nabi Rustamli Игорь Тышкевич Тенгиз Аблотия Евгений Магда
Богдан Олексюк
Отар Довженко
Ярослав Шимов

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles and/or discussions are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or positions of the publisher.

On March 26, 2000, 39,740,467 Russians elected Vladimir Putin as the second President of Russia. 53,4 % voters gave their vote to a candidate who had been recommended by the then extremely unpopular former President Yeltsin, to a candidate who was practically unknown. Putin's victory in the first round of the election was closely linked with the victorious war in Chechnya, which thus catapulted him into the presidency. The second Chechen war was waged on the pretext of retaliation for the three apartment block bombings which had taken place in Moscow, Buinaksk, and Volgodonsk in September 1999. These three events have led some authors to the conclusion that without these bombings, Putin would never have been elected. The strong suspicion that Putin and his cronies had been involved in these terrorist acts will probably remain in the realm of mere suspicion. Putin's road to power as well as his style of governing have been accompanied by many other question marks. The Question Who is Mr. Putin, which emerged at the beginning of his presidency has not lost any of its force. Dozens of books based on serious analyses have been devoted to Putin's life and others are waiting to be written. They have all suggested some rather disturbing answers to the question posed above. It is difficult to imagine that in all these books the Russian President would have been treated unfairly. It is equally difficult to imagine, though, that barely ten percent of what was mooted in these works might be true. Should the Russian voter have asked himself before the election, where the truth lies, his/her position would not have been enviable. However, the results of the last presidential election in Russia demonstrated that such questions are simply not asked by voters in Russia or that the Russians believe in their President. It is also one of the reasons why the upcoming presidential election in Russia will not lead to any surprises. Putin will be re-elected and all the questions will remain unanswered. His re-election means that the current domestic and foreign policies will continue as a dangerous balancing act, always teetering on the edge of a serious conflict between Russia and her neighbours. This is bad news for Russian neighbours who face a variety of pressures constantly exerted by Moscow. This is why we have tried to map the situation that Russia's neighbouring countries face. The conditions in each vary. Each represents a different political and economic system and each realizes differently-oriented foreign policy. But they will always have one thing in common: a problem with their Big Brother who does not like his neighbours to be too independent. Reading some comments made by the former Russian Minister of foreign affairs, Andrey Kozyrev, in reaction to Putin's attack on him, one could recall an old joke – the Yerevan radio station answers the question When will things get better? by saying – Things have long been better. There's no doubt that the year 2008 will bring lots of issues connected with Russia, most predominantly rather negative, which we will be discussing on our website. However, although it is not nice to be pessimistic at the beginning of the New Year, one has to be realistic. Notwithstanding, the editorial board wishes you a Happy New Year.
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