One of Putin's biggest mistakes is his desire to revive the Soviet Union's former greatness. He emulates a country that was the largest "Potemkin village" in history. The incompetent way that Putin's government is handling the financial crisis is frightfully similar to the convulsions of the Kremlin leaders before and during the economic crises in the 1980s.
What is most interesting about the term increases for State Duma deputies to five years and for the president to six years is the reaction to these changes. We heard hearty, prolonged applause by the Kremlin lackeys in the audience when President Dmitry Medvedev made his announcement in the state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 5. On the other hand, ordinary Russians are strangely silent on the issue.
The Union of Right Forces is trying to transform its platform and image. Most voters have long associated the party, known as SPS, with the two poster children of the painful reforms of the 1990s -- former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and privatization chief Anatoly Chubais.