The Christian Science Monitor

Putin flexes as ‘good czar,’ but can he remake Russia?

For many of Vladimir Putin’s critics, the Russian president’s method of governance is just a modern version of the “good czar, bad boyars” concept, a method of bamboozling the population almost as old as Russia itself. In it, the well-intentioned leader talks directly to the people over the heads of his presumably corrupt or inept officials.

Mr. Putin’s annual televised virtual town hall meeting, the most recent of which aired on June 20, appears to underscore the argument.

Sitting at what looks like a central control panel, he fields a staggering variety of questions, grievances, and criticisms that have been digitally piped into the Kremlin theater. He responds with a magisterial grip on the situation, rattling off statistics,

Pushing on an open doorFree market or Soviet redux?

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