All eyes of the world are turned towards Russia’s President Vladimir Putin
by Olivia Kroth
After his overwhelming victory in the presidential race on the 18th of March 2018, the world has turned all of its eyes towards Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. He was reelected for a fourth time with nearly 77 percent of all votes in the Russian Federation and abroad. Not only in Russian cities but also in Berlin, London, Paris, New York and many other capitals around the globe Russians waited in long queues in front of polling stations to vote for their beloved, highly estimated President. Such fervour had not been seen yet, this is an absolute novum.
Vladimir Putin rules over the biggest country of the world. The Russian Federation spans two continents with eleven time zones. He is a strong president for a strong country. His popularity back home may serve him as a solid base to strengthen and consolidate Russia’s influence abroad within the next six years, from 2018 to 2023. Many politicians from foreign countries consult him regularly, either by phone or during a visit in Moscow. Vladimir Putin has turned into an “elder statesman”, a wise leader with great experience. Others can learn a lot from him, even those who do not appreciate his leadership will have to count with him. He has become a leading figure worldwide.
A lot of comments have already been written about President Putin’s success in Syria, where he is supporting President Bashar Al Assad. Russia helps the Syrian Army in its long lasting fight against radical forces trying to break up and divide the Syrian state. A lot has also been written in a positive or negative way about the return of Crimea to the Russian motherland. 2014 was an important year for President Putin who has been ruling Russia for 18 years. In 2014 the citizens of Crimea decided by referendum they would rather live under Russian administration than remain a lost and forgotten part of bankrupt Ukraine. Crimea is soaring like phoenix from the ashes. The restoration of infrastructure with new bridges, highways, railroads, business and tourist centres causes admiration worldwide. Who would have thought that Crimea could bloom again in such a beautiful way?
A new Crimean bridge leads from the Russian mainland to the peninsula:
Vladimir Putin was also able to show with his interior politics that he is the right man in the right place. During his presidency, the Russian Federation paid back all of its debts from Soviet times. Russia has made great progress in the fields of agriculture, ecology, defence, education, medicine, research, science, technology as well as in the sphere of social benefits for all citizens. Wages and pensions were augmented, the standard of living has improved, life expectancy has risen to an average of 72 years. Russians are happy and thankful, wishing their president to continue his excellent work.
One of the Russian President’s most important demographic aims is to populate this huge territory and make it inhabitable. A major aim regarding Russia’s economy is to raise incomes. The Russian Federation is still drawing profit from its immense quantity as well as quality of natural resources, mainly gas and oil. Every year, Vladimir Putin announces that Russia’s economy must further diversify, pointing out that more small and medium businesses should be created. Russia’s “Strategic Plan 2020” includes further development in the areas of aircraft and ship construction, energy, informatics and medicine. In 2020, an overall assessment will be made. The Russian Federation has reached a good position regarding the international classification of the World Bank for “Doing Business”, rising from place 120 in 2011 to place 35 in 2017. President Putin and his government can book this rise as economic success.
The development of Russia’s Far East is very important to Vladimir Putin. This remote area of the Russian Federation has rich natural ressources but only few inhabitants. Vladivostok was founded in 1859. Tsar Nicolas II promoted the construction of the Transsiberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok at the end of the 19th century. In 1916, this gigantic railway with a total length of 10.000 kilometres was officially opened for traffic. Siberia, a huge territory of Russia’s Far East, comprised only five million inhabitants in 1815. Until 1914, the number had doubled due to the construction of the Transsiberian Railway. Today, 39 million people live in Siberia.
In 2010, Vladimir Putin drove 2.000 kilometres in a yellow Lada car from Khabarovsk on Amur to Chita in Transbaikalia. It was a mediatised event which drew a lot of attention to this region of Russia. The President likes to spend each summer vacation in Siberia, where he goes fishing, horseback riding and whitewater rafting. In the summer of 2017, he spent his holidays in the Republic of Tuva, southern Siberia, near the Chinese border. Among the friends in his company was Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, a native of Tuva. Videos of these holidays are of touristic value because they show the President’s love for the beauty and wild nature of Siberia.
President Vladimir Putin’s summer vacation in the Republic of Tuva:
In 2012, the first APEC Summit took place in Vladivostok. The Eastern Economic Forum followed in 2015 and has been continued on a regular basis each year. In 2016, delegations from China, Japan and Southern Korea participated. In 2017, they were joined by a delegation from Mongolia. Russia’s Far Eastern population is growing, especially in the region of Khabarovsk, on the island of Sakhalin, in the Sakha Republic and the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. For the past three years, the birthrate has been higher than the death rate, which means great success for Russia. To further stimulate this auspicious dynamic, the Russian government has created a new programme in 2016/2017. Russian settlers receive one hectare of land as a gift, if they will settle in the Far East and use their hectare for agriculture. In addition, each new settler receives financial support from the government. This programme is very popular, many Russians use it for the benefit of their families.
Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok:
President Vladimir Putin impresses people with his merits, deeds and especially his personality. He has become famous for his reforms, his dynamic style of governance, his closeness to the Russian people and his patriotism. He has great ideas but always remains levelheaded. So he appears to be at the same time idealistic and pragmatic, courageous and careful. He behaves with discipline and reserve, never getting loud or stepping out of his role. Vladimir Putin is well suited for the position because of his balanced, calm temperament. This behavour is typical for people born under the astrological sign of “Libra”. President Putin knows how to keep the scales balanced. When dealing with people he remains easy-going, diplomatic, polite and is a good listener.
Yet he is and remains self-contained, allowing nobody to see his cards, probably not even his closest relations. He might have learned to be so secretive during his time as officer of the KGB. His training in judo might also have helped, where as a rule you must try to outsmart and overwhelm the opponent in an athletic, playful way. His two favourite sports are judo and ice hockey. He also likes fitness and swimming. Vladimir Putin is a diplomat and reformer, sportsman and writer. His books have sold very well: several manuals of judo and his autobiography.
Vladimir Putin published books about practising judo:
The Russian President stands for law and order, safety and greatness of the Russian Federation. He is continuing Imperial and Soviet centralism to secure the continuation of Russian history throughout the centuries. Vladimir Putin mirrors Russia’s endurance and resilience. These are the reasons why 77 percent of his countrymen want him to be their President for a fourth time. Vladimir Putin is a shining example for many Russians. Everybody likes to believe in the power of one’s own country. This is absolutely normal, healthy and good.
Good luck for your presidency from 2018 to 2023, Mr. President, with lots of courage, health and strength!
Olivia Kroth: The journalist and author of four books lives in Moscow.