Putin set for long reign as Russian elections loom

Ex-KGB man aims to make country great again despite running Third World economy

A billboard featuring Mr Vladimir Putin and the date of the Russian elections in the Lebanese city of Tyre, aimed at the Russian diaspora in the city. Mr Putin is guaranteed to be re-elected this week but his Achilles heel is the economy.
A billboard featuring Mr Vladimir Putin and the date of the Russian elections in the Lebanese city of Tyre, aimed at the Russian diaspora in the city. Mr Putin is guaranteed to be re-elected this week but his Achilles heel is the economy.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A decisive leader who restored his country's national pride, or a bare-chested strongman who resorts to military force to get his way?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been called all these things, and more, since he rose to the top of his nation's political scene in 1999, but no conclusive picture has emerged of the man who is guaranteed to be re-elected this week.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2018, with the headline 'Putin set for long reign as Russian elections loom'. Subscribe