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Cover Stories Series 2012> China-Russia Future Bright> Archive
UPDATED: March 12, 2012 NO. 11 MARCH 15, 2012
Russia's New Old President
Vladimir Putin is elected Russian president for a third term
By Yu Lintao

Some media said Putin was lucky, because since 2000 crude oil prices have been surging, which brought a windfall for this oil- and gas-rich nation and propped up its economy.

"The oil revenue did help a lot," said Xing. "But it depends on who controls the oil and how the revenue is used. If energy resources are controlled by oligarchs, nobody can guarantee the money would be used for people's welfare."


Undeniably Putin's popularity dipped slightly in this election, compared with four years ago, when he was barred from seeking a third consecutive term of presidency under the Russian Constitution.

"That's mainly due to the financial crisis of 2008. The crisis collapsed several European governments. Russia was also affected. The living standards of some people in Russia have declined since then, which caused their resentment to the current administration," Xing said.

In 2009, the Russian economy was affected by the global financial crisis and saw its worst recession in decades, with its GDP shrinking 7.9 percent. However, with appropriate anti-crisis measures, Russia ensured a considerable 4.5-percent GDP growth in 2011.

"The rigid Russian economic structure and political corruption are big challenges for Putin. They are all long-term problems that Putin has been criticized for by his opponents," said Xing.

In the video meeting on March 5, Yuri Krupnov, Chairman of the Movement of Development and Supervisory Board of Russia's Institute of Demography, Immigration, and Regional Development, said, "The new government should adopt reform. Either reform or be worse."

After winning the election, Putin held a meeting with three election rivals and invited opposition leaders for cooperation. Putin said, "We should work together to settle the problems in the country." And earlier before the election, Putin was quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency as saying he hopes the changes can take place in a "calm, evolutionary way, in harmony between the ruling elite and the citizens."

"Putin has taken some measures on political reform, such as re-introducing direct election of regional leaders," Xing said. "He also promised to make adjustments to legislative elections and simplify the registration process for small parties."

Sino-Russian relations

"Putin is unlikely to make strategic changes on Russia's foreign policies, especially in regard to Sino-Russian relations," Xing said to Beijing Review.

In his seventh campaign article, titled "Russia and the Changing World," Putin hailed China's role in the global economy and called for closer cooperation. He said the Sino-Russian relationship would be a priority of Russia's international cooperation.

Liu Guchang, former Chinese Ambassador to Russia, said Putin's victory is helpful for a closer Sino-Russian relationship. And for China, strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership is an important strategy for dealing with the complicated international situation.

Over the past decade, Putin has been actively promoting Sino-Russian ties along with Chinese leaders. Relations between the two countries have undergone unprecedented development.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a member of the presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow and editor in chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, told the Xinhua News Agency that Putin values China's approach and Chinese respect and pays back similarly.

As members of the BRICS group of major developing countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and as permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia share a lot in common.

"The two countries have had good cooperation under the framework of those international organizations," said Xue Fuqi, a research fellow on Russian studies with the CASS.

Xue said both countries feel pressure as the United States shifts its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

"The two countries should concentrate on their domestic economic and social development despite outside disturbances. In this regard, they share the same strategic interests," Xue said.

Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

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