‘Vladimir Putin’ on British Herald Cover for March-April 2019
British Herald has so far featured various world leaders on their cover page. Vladimir Putin was featured in the March-April 19 issue, which described him as the ‘Imprint from Russia to the World’. Putin who has risen from humble beginnings to lead one of the world’s great nations is a Russian politician and former KGB intelligence officer currently serving as President of Russia for nearly two decades. The magazine further wrote that “Elected to his current and fourth presidential term in March 2018, Putin has led the Russian Federation as either its prime minister, acting president, or president since 1999. Long considered an equal of the President of the United States in holding one of the world’s most powerful public offices, Putin has aggressively exerted Russia’s influence and political policy around the world.”
Focusing on the strength of the leader, BH showcased Putin as one who changed Russia beyond all recognition from the chaotic, open free-for-all it was under Yeltsin. Despite the economic decline, Putin enjoys perhaps the highest popularity rating of any Kremlin leader. While Putin may have flipflopped on economic issues, he has consistently moved toward greater consolidation of his own power. In 2004, he signed a law allowing the president to appoint regional governors, a privilege he mostly retains despite reforms prompted by street protests in 2011-12. Putin’s famous “castling” with Dmitry Medvedev allowed him to return to the presidency in 2012. Always a vocal proponent of a multipolar world, Putin has shifted in recent years towards greater economic and military cooperation with Asian countries. His campaign against the Islamic insurgency in the wider North Caucasus region has led to a reduction in violence – but also to a litany of human rights abuses.
Putin’s presidency also witnessed a change in the way Russians viewed the Soviet past. The charitable view of Putin’s foreign policy is that he stands up to western hegemony and, with China, acts as a balance to the overweening military and political power of the US. Rather than being the safe-holder of a new era of democracy, Putin turned Russia into ‘a supersize model of the KGB’, where there can be no room for dissent or even independent action. Putin’s Russia maintains positive relations with other BRIC countries. Moreover, Putin has also been praised for eliminating widespread barter and thus boosting the economy.