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6 May, 2008 07:17

Last hours of Putin’s Russia

Vladimir Putin has less than a day before he officially hands over the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev. The inauguration ceremony will take place at the Kremlin on Wednesday.

On his last working day as president, Putin has presented five Russian cities with honorary awards. Ahead of Victory Day the cities of Polyarny, Luga, Rostov-on-Don, Tuapse and Voronezh were given Military Glory Certificates for their contribution in  defeating Nazi Germany in WW2.

A grand strategist or just the man who was in the right place at the right time? Putin has come a long way in his eight years in power.

“As the saying goes, Comrade Wolf knows whom to eat, it eats without listening and it’s clearly not going to listen to anyone,” he said back in 2006.

For Russia these words were protective, for the West they seemed provocative.

What Russians saw was economic growth, increased earnings and the highest standards of living they’ve ever enjoyed.

“His main achievement was that when he came to power he was an obscure politico. He converted himself into one of the most popular leaders of this country. I can’t exactly say that he has strengthened Russian liberal democracy. But what he has done – he’s brought the country back to the traditional way of running it, and most of the people are happy about it and the prospect of today’s system converting into something more transparent,” said Russian TV anchor Sergey Brilev.

Throughout his presidency Vladimir Putin has been a target for some harsh accusations. But for him, brushing off media attacks and rumours has never been a challenge.

In order to judge his legacy it has to be complete and that is not likely for some time, as he’s due to become prime minister.

This scheme of the Medevedev-Putin duo has been thought through well in advance, believes Sergey Medvedev, political analyst from the Higher School of Economics. He hopes co-operation between the two men will prevail over rivalry.

“The main question of Medvedev’s presidency is who will be the supreme man. I hope that Putin’s legacy is the legal state, which is taking root in Russia. If they work out their co-operation according to the rules, this would be a great achievement,” he said.