Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Beats Out Zyuganov, Clinton as Man of the Year

Russians voted for President Vladimir Putin as Person of the Year in an annual poll, while U.S. President Bill Clinton and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov tied as their second-favorite choice, according to a recent poll.

The sinking of the Kursk submarine and the return of hundreds more soldiers in bodybags from separatist Chechnya last year failed to erode the popularity of Putin, who received a winning 38 percent of votes, exactly the same as in last year's survey, said Yury Levada, director of the All-Russia Opinion Polls Institute.

Clinton and Zyuganov tied for a distant second place with 4 percent each.

Press criticism of Putin's handling of the Kursk tragedy, in which 118 sailors died, and his failure to end the grinding Chechen conflict could not stop him trouncing the opposition.

"This highlights a very important feature of our social-political scene," Levada said in televised comments Tuesday. "We have no one else. There is only one figure on our chess board, without any alternatives, rivals or close comrades-in-arms."

Levada said Russia should beware this "entrenched solitude."

"It makes a leader hugely dependent on opinions about him, and on expressions of mass support … and sometimes it seems his sensitivity to criticism is linked with this," he said.

Levada said the public had voted the Chechen campaign, Moscow's second onslaught in six years against the region's rebels, as Putin's least successful venture since his election in March.

Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko was voted Woman of the Year with 16 percent of the vote.

She was followed by "actresses, singers and so on," Levada said. "Women politicians are very rare, you just do not see them."

Terrorism, drug abuse and a growing AIDS problem were Russians' main fears for the next century, but 56 percent of respondents said they expected 2001 to be better than last year.