NEWSWATCH: “What is the best way to describe Vladimir Putin’s Russia?” – Reuters/John Lloyd

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

In January of this year, a British judge, Robert Owen, said … Putin … was ‘probably’ a murderer. * * * Litvinenko’s widow, Marina … called on Prime Minister David Cameron to expel all Russian spies … and for a range of … sanctions … on several figures close to the murder … includ[ing Putin] himself.
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In this system, everything depends on the tsar-patriarch-president. … to … Congress … Fiona Hill … said that [Putin] and his team have ‘worked very hard to increase (their) tactical advantage by making the Russian President — and thus the Russian decision-making system — as inscrutable and unpredictable as possible. … No-one outside the inner circle is supposed to know what is going on.’
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… secrecy surrounding the insiders’ deliberations means that the pullout from Syria was a surprise to all: a nasty surprise to Assad * * * achieved with Putin’s now familiar tactical skill, playing on … confusion and divisions in the West over how to deal with the Syrian crisis. Yet, the long-term question remains. How long can the president, and the economy, last without a serious challenge? How secure would he be in that event? And if insecure, who is next?

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