Pride, Putin and Too Much Police Power?

"When I was a kid, we had to queue to buy bananas," she told us, sitting on the couch of her and her husband's richly appointed living room. "That is nonsense now."

That's because Elena and her husband, Genady Kuchirivi, are living the good life in Moscow, enjoying newfound luxuries and salaries 20 times what their parents earned.

They, like many here, credit Putin.

"He's a kind of modern man," said Elena Kuchirivi, "He represents better the current generation." 

  I asked Kasparov what he thinks when he hears such praise of Putin, especially since his own opposition party's support is so paltry.

He replied, "Look, in 1989, 1990, the support for democratic change looked even smaller, but soon the Soviet regime had collapsed."

If he's expecting a similar collapse for Putin, however, he is virtually alone here. The only question some commentators are asking here is whether Putin will handpick his successor in presidential elections next March, or change the Russian constitution so he can serve a third term. Today's Russia is Putin's Russia.

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