Only Putin Can Save Russia, Really

By Andranik Migranyan

Russia’s budget deficit is growing. The government’s program to support retirees is running short of cash. Taxes on the Russian people will have to rise.  

But the future is far from bleak for Russia. Why? Vladimir Putin is about to become president - again.

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The opinion pages of American newspapers have been filled with fears that Putin will return Russia to a Communist-era dictatorship and to closed financial markets. That is not only untrue – Putin has no choice but to continue Russia’s modernization – but it also misses the larger point.

Russia, like the U.S. and so many other developed nations around the world, has serious issues that need to be addressed. Its workforce is shrinking, its budget deficit is growing and global financial troubles threaten to disrupt its economic footing.

That’s exactly why Putin should be welcomed back. Now, more than ever, Russians need – and are demanding – a confident leader with guts. They want a decisive, bold president who will make the tough decisions and implement substantial reform. They also want someone who knows the ropes, who’s been there. Putin is that guy.

His return gives Russians like me confidence that the problems we are facing will be fixed.

The presidential election in Russia is five months away, but Putin isn’t wasting time. He’s already laid out ambitious goals. He has vowed to zero out Russia’s budget deficit, diversify its energy markets around the world, expand trade opportunities in many directions and secure Russia a seat in the World Trade Organization.

Russia has a huge opportunity – especially during today’s widespread economic and political unrest – to be a pillar of stability. Putin, as the new president, can build it.

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Andranik Migranyan is director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a New York-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving relations between Russia and the U.S.

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