Point of View

Counter-reforms in times of prosperity

In 2000, Vladimir Putin came to power after nearly a decade of the rule of the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. As prime minister, and later as a candidate for president, Putin announced that he would reform the state. The main assumptions of this reform were presented during a congress of the pro-Kremlin Unity movement, in Putin's address entitled 'Russia at the turn of the millennium' which was delivered on 29 December 1999, and later in a open letter to voters published on 25 February 2000. Both declarations were rather general, but they gave a clear picture of the principal directions of and priority areas for the future president's efforts: they outlined Russia's development path as pro-market and democratic.

Nearly seven years have passed since Vladimir Putin came to power, a time for a summary of his achievements. In a way, Vladimir Putin has partially delivered on his initial declarations; indeed, Russia has undergone a deep transformation. However, when seen in the light of the president’s initial promises, the changes appear to be no more than 'counter-reforms', because instead of putting into practice the policy he outlined seven years ago, they have largely followed a different, if not entirely opposite direction.

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