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Friday, September 17, 2004
  Control Freak : Tagline for a story from The Economist Web site: Vladimir Putin, control freak. The story provides details of the Russian leader's power grab following last week's tragedy in Beslan. From now on the governors of Russia's 89 regions will be chosen by the President (!) and approved by a local assembly rather than being elected. OK then.

Also interesting (in a more positive way) is Putin's framing of the tragedy, in part, as a poverty issue. Putin pledged to create:
...a federal commission for the northern Caucasus, whose main job will be "the improvement of the standard of living in the region".

To Putin-watchers, the last item does signal a shift. Though he still blames foreign terrorists for stirring up trouble in the northern Caucasus, he also admitted in this week’s speech that "the roots of terror lie in the continuing massive unemployment in the region, and the lack of an effective social policy".

"Maybe he is only now reali[z]ing that the poverty and social problems are the roots of these conflicts," says Fiona Hill of America’s Brookings Institution.
Rather than determining to fight "terror" strictly on the supply side (which is how I would characterize the U.S. response to 9/11), will Russia adopt an approach closer to that advocated by former President Clinton, which is to attempt to reduce the demand for it?
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