Russians Agree With Time, Putin is Person of Year

Most Russians shrugged as if to say "of course" when told that Time magazine had named Vladimir Putin person of the year.

Slava Zoshchuk, a microbiologist, told ABC News, "I am not surprised. ... It's great, because he has done a lot for the prestige and the stabilization of the country."

Svetlana Nagornavo, a maid, said, "It's good. I voted for Putin. I am for stability."

To many analysts, too, Time's decision comes as no surprise, but for very different reasons. Putin made headlines regularly this year. Whether it was for publicly chastising senior American officials or being snapped shirtless on a fishing trip, Putin was in the news.

Masha Lipman, a political analyst with the Carnegie Institute, told ABC News, "I think he made a lot of headlines and was talked about a great deal … when somebody is difficult there is no way to ignore. He made the West reckon with Russia, for better or for worse."

It's been a tough year for U.S.-Russian relations. Disagreements over Iran's nuclear ambitions and the U.S.' proposed missile defense system have raised tensions between the two countries. For better or for worse, though, Putin's message has remained constant. As Lipman summarizes it, "Russia says no and there is no way to ignore Russia."

Putin rarely talks to Western journalists, and the fact that he sat down for an extensive interview with Time magazine is important in itself. Lipman says, "There's always this combination of caring about the opinion of the West and also ignoring it."

Dmitry Peskov, the deputy press secretary for Putin, told ABC News about Time's choice. "It's quite positive news, this choice for 2007. It's a kind of acknowledgement of the vital role that he has played over the last eight years, helping to pull Russia out of the chaos of the '90s and restoring national pride. Undoubtedly, under the leadership of President Putin during these eight years, Russia has re-emerged as a constructive and active voice in shaping the course of international relations and has expanded influence around the globe."

Certainly in 2008 the world will be hearing more from that voice.

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