Vladimir Putin, the right man in the right place at the right time
Like Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin enjoys the overwhelming support of public opinion outside Russia. Unlike Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin has been able to produce tangible and visible results in a short space of time.
While Gorbachev was perhaps a victim of misfortune, the inevitable scapegoat who paid the price for taking on a project which was too big for just one man or just one decade, Putin has been wise enough to create his own good
fortune, having the intelligence to surround himself with the best men for the job and following a coherent, determined and planned policy both within Russia and abroad.
There are those in Russia who complain that life in Soviet times was better. For the majority, this was undoubtedly true. However, times change and with them, circumstances. Given that the Soviet system has mutated into today's Russian Federation, the comparison is futile.
There are those in Russia who compare the country unfavorably with the EU, considering that change is too slow, that Russia is too bureaucratic, that the money is in the hands of the oligarchs. There are those abroad who love such claims and make full use of them to paint a somber picture of the Russian Federation in press reports.
Such claims are unfair for three reasons: first, because Vladimir Putin has been implacable in controlling the oligarchs, a word which must be used carefully because it does not include all businessmen with above-average powers of endeavor but rather, those who endeavor to have above-average powers.
Secondly, bureaucracy is the sum of many processes which have been building up for decades; like a pyramid, these have a wide base. Thirdly, Russia has a soul which is not to be sold cheaply.
Russia is not Western Europe either geographically or culturally. Russia is the collection of peoples living between the Baltic and the Bering Seas, from Karelia to Korea. As such, Russia needs and in Vladimir Putin has a determined leader with a firm power base in the capital city.
Processes which strive for internal division and power sharing will do little for Russia as a whole except to weaken the structure of the country and line the pockets of those who crave for the only cherry on the cake. These processes will do everything to help those powers outside Russia who are eyeing the country's vast mineral resources, waiting for an opportunity to put into practice a process of economic colonization, which has already begun.
Outside Russia, Vladimir Putin's firm stance on international terrorism, insisting on a multi-lateral approach based on international law, on diplomacy, dialogue and discussion, the fundamental principles of democratic behavior and based on equality of status, has gained Russia friends around the globe and across the board.
It is this type of leadership which the world needs - statesmen who stand up for their principles, which are at the same time the principles of humanity and principles towards which mankind has striven so long, worked so hard and suffered so much.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building