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Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests

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Congressional rept.

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Vladimir Putin won reelection as President in March 2004, in an exercise in managed democracy in which he took 71 of the vote and faced no serious competition. The pro-Putin Unified Russia party similarly swept the parliamentary election in December 2003 and controls more than two-thirds of the seats in the Duma. Putins twin priorities remain to revive the economy and strengthen the state. He has brought TV and radio under tight state control and virtually eliminated effective political opposition. Federal forces have suppressed large-scale military resistance in Chechnya and in 2006 succeeded in killing most of the top Chechen rebel military and political leaders. The economic upturn that began in 1999 is continuing. The GDP and domestic investment are growing impressively after a long decline, fueled in large part by profits from oil and gas exports. Inflation is contained, the budget is balanced, and the ruble is stable. Major problems remain 18 of the population live below the poverty line foreign investment is low and crime, corruption, capital flight, and unemployment remain high. Russian foreign policy has grown more self-confident and assertive, fueled by its perceived status as an energy superpower. Russias drive to reassert dominance in and integration of the former Soviet states is most successful with Belarus and Armenia but arouses opposition in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The Commonwealth of Independent States as an institution is failing. After years of sharp U.S.-Russian disagreement over Russian support for Irans nuclear program, Washington and Moscow appear to have found some common ground on the Iranian as well as the North Korean nuclear concerns. The military has been in turmoil after years of severe force reductions and budget cuts. The armed forces now number about 1 million, down from 4.3 million Soviet troops in 1986. Major weapons procurement has begun to pick up as petrodollars flow into Moscow.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science

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