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Russia's next step
Vladimir Putin "exudes confidence about his political future" ahead of the certain election of his hand-picked successor, said Matthew Kaminski in The Wall Street Journal. The next American president will have to "champion Russia's persecut
W
hat happened
Dmitry Medvedev, who is almost certain to become Russia’s next president, said he would be willing to work with his U.S. counterpart on fighting terrorism and other mutual concerns. But opposition leaders urged the West to snub Medvedev -- the hand-picked successor of Vladimir Putin, who is ineligible for a third term -- and called for a boycott of Sunday’s election. (AP via Google)

What the commentators said
Putin “exudes confidence about his political future” ahead of yet another “foreordained” Russian vote, said Matthew Kaminski in The Wall Street Journal. Fat and happy as the nation’s economy surfs record commodity prices, 70 percent of voters plan to rubberstamp Putin’s plan to install his aide and switch over to the newly beefed up job of prime minister. “Sooner or later this increasingly prosperous” society will “tire” of their “self-styled modernizing czar,” but Putin will be ready for them after “eight years building up the firewalls of repression.”

“The next American president will have to deal with a Russia that is not only nuclear-armed but increasingly wealthy and increasingly authoritarian,” said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). It’s time to “champion Russia’s persecuted democrats” -- as Carter and Reagan did -- to call the world’s attention “to the very real dangers they face. Descending back into cold war rhetoric and reflexes will not help anyone.” But neither will pretending that Putin’s clique is full of “good will and democratic intentions.”

“Russia's growth in the last nine years has been substantial and beneficial,” said Anders Aslund in The Moscow Times, “but many serious shortfalls have spoiled the picture. Too many problems have accumulated because of the near absence of structural reforms after 2002. The country badly needs a new president to carry out Russia's reforms, but the worry is that Putin will continue to block all progress.”

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