Twelve years after his first election, Vladimir Putin is becoming president of Russia again, but the country is much harder to control now, says this article from the Economist.
HE GAVE it all he had. He quoted from Martin Luther King—"I have a dream"—before moving on to Lermontov's poem Borodino—"By Moscow then we die/As have our brethren died before!"—and then seamlessly into Vyacheslav Molotov—"The fight continues. The victory will be ours." He worked the crowd hard: his voice roared, his face twitched. 100,000 people brought in from all over Russia cheered.
Public campaigning does not come naturally to Vladimir Putin, former KGB man, former Russian president and current Russian prime minister; preferring to wield power behind closed doors, a staged photo opportunity is more his mark. When, last September, he announced in the same Moscow arena that he would swap jobs with Dmitry Medvev, Russia's president, and return to the Kremlin after the March 4th election, he was distinctly low key.
Since the outcome was predetermined, there was at first not much by way of a campaign. But after a wave of protests against his job swap, and the subsequent rigging of December's parliamentary elections, Mr Putin has been forced into a much more combative mode; Russia is under threat, he says, calling on his supporters to mobilise for a final battle against enemies foreign and domestic.