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Why Vote for Putin?

Why Vote for Putin?

This weekend, Russians will re-elect President Vladimir Putin. As Alex Kliment detailed in the Tuesday edition, many Russians are much better off economically than when Putin replaced Boris Yeltsin on December 31, 1999, and Putin has restored the nation’s public dignity in the eyes of many Russians by confidently antagonizing the Western powers.


Look closer. Russians are not simply voting for the Putin we know today but for the distance they believe he has brought them. In 1993, at a time of post-Soviet economic upheaval, your Friday author spent four months in Moscow. Arriving in February, my dollar bought about 500 rubles. Departing in June, I could buy 1,500. For Russians without dollars, the value of cash disintegrated by the week.

In those days, the walk out of any large metro station in the capital took you through a gauntlet of people lined up to sell home-grown vegetables, greasy used auto parts, and unopened boxes of diapers. Children wore “for sale” photos of their pets around their necks.

Was it Putin or rising oil prices that ended that time of desperation and loss? To voters, especially those over 40, it doesn’t matter. This is just one aspect of today’s Russian politics, but the broader story becomes less abstract when you see the faces and hear the voices of those who will vote.

Side note: I offer deep respect to family and friends of the great Soviet and Russian actor, director, and teacher Oleg Pavlovich Tabakov, who passed away this week. I spent that time in Moscow at his invitation.

Meet Alessandra Cominetti, a recipient of MIT Technology Review Magazine's Innovators Under 35 award. As a lab technician at Eni's Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Novara, Alessandra has devoted her career to finding new solutions and materials to optimize solar energy. Much like the serendipitous encounter that resulted in her employment, her eagerness and willingness to try new things allowed her to stumble upon a material for the creation of portable solar panels.

Watch her remarkable story on the latest episode of Faces of Eni.

"If [the election] is very close and it ends up in the courts, that kind of protracted situation I think will lead many Americans to believe that it was an unfair election." Rick Hasen, election law expert and author of Election Meltdown, lays out some of the worst-case scenarios for Election Day, ranging from unprecedented voter suppression to dirty tricks by foreign actors. The conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. The episode begins airing nationally in the US on public television this Friday, October 30. Check local listings.

"No election is conducted perfectly, and elections have all kinds of problems.We're going to have more problems because we're running an election during a pandemic." Election law expert Rick Hasen cautions that both campaigns could misconstrue honest mistakes in the administration of this week's national election as nefarious acts. The integrity of the election, he warns, could be compromised by human error and the unprecedented challenges posed by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Hasen's especially concerned about key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

With COVID increasing in France, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere, has Europe lost control of the pandemic?

Well, I wouldn't say lost control, but clearly it is a very worrying situation. With COVID increasing virtually everywhere, we see a new wave of semi-lockdowns... it's not as bad as it was in the spring... with the hope of being able to contain the surge during the month of November. Let's wait and see.

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An extended conversation with Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former top State Department official under President Obama and the CEO of the think tank New America. Slaughter spoke with Ian Bremmer about how a "President Biden" could reshape US foreign policy.

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