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#10 - JRL 7204
New York Times
May 31, 2003
letter
Putin's Strength

To the Editor:

Re "Putin's Sure Hand Abroad Belies Problems at Home" (front page, May 28):

From where I sit in Moscow, President Vladimir V. Putin looks far from vulnerable. In fact, with coverage of St. Peterburg's 300th anniversary showing Mr. Putin holding court over dozens of world leaders, he has never looked stronger.

The best indication of confidence is the Russian money being repatriated into Russian assets. Investment is up 20 percent, and the stock market is, yet again, in the top three best performing in the world hardly a sign of political instability.

The bigger worry is surely how much power has been concentrated in the Kremlin, not how little. With few willing or able to question his decisions, Mr. Putin faces little constructive criticism.

ROLAND NASH
Moscow, May 29, 2003
The writer is head of research at Renaissance Capital, an investment bank.

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