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I was one of the early critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin. I thought that under the guise of democracy and elections he was creating a kind of super-presidency that would ride roughshod over the rule of law.
When you go to Russia you see more and more people who are educated, westernized and are trying to build companies.
They still seem weak, but I am struck that every time I go to Russia, they are a little stronger than they were last time - not politically, but in their desire for a normal, everyday life. In that sense, they seem to aspire to live in a normal western-style society.