Russian President Vladimir Putin was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2007 on Wednesday for bringing his country "roaring back to the table of world power."Not a good guy? What, like he beats up old ladies and kicks dogs? I find the statement that he "doesn't care about civil liberties" a bit odd also - I think Putin's perspective is likely quite different, more of a first-things first approach. As much as our press would like to hand-wring about it, I think most Russians aren't feeling their civil liberties being squashed any more than Americans do.
"He's not a good guy, but he's done extraordinary things," said Time managing editor Richard Stengel, who announced Putin's selection on NBC's "Today Show."
"He's a new tsar of Russia and he's dangerous in the sense that he doesn't care about civil liberties; he doesn't care about free speech; he cares about stability. But stability is what Russia needed and that's why Russians adore him."
Personally, these aren't the items or policies for which I would first criticize Putin. Then again, I also think that he gets too much credit for an economic recovery that actually started at the end of Boris Yeltsin's time.
There is always something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Putin deserves the most credit for simply having clear ideas on asserting Russia's influence on the international stage, now that the nation has resurgent economic prowess.
To commemerate the occasion, I'm sharing the following Putin cut-out figure. Now you too can have a little Putin, Man of the Year, watching over your desk!
When completed, the figure will look like this:
Variations on the theme can be found here.
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