The Foreign Service Journal, April 2007

A P R I L 2 0 0 7 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 25 he Vladimir Putin era is nearing the end of the line. The next presidential election is due in March 2008, and the Russian political class is now preparing to jump aboard a new train. Before the election frenzy begins, we ought to reflect on the state of Russia today and where the country is headed. The current debate —between the “pessimists,” some of whom claim that Vladimir Putin has betrayed Boris Yeltsin’s liberal reforms while others try to argue that Russians are incapable of living in a democratic system, and the “optimists,” F O C U S O N R U S S I A P REPARING FOR THE P OST -P UTIN E RA W HERE IS R USSIA HEADED ? H ERE IS A LOOK AT THE FUNDAMENTAL CHALLENGES BEFORE THE COUNTRY AND THE R USSIAN ELITE ’ S CAPACITY TO COPE WITH THEM . B Y L ILIA S HEVTSOVA T Ben Fishman