MOSCOW – Dmitry Medvedev’s election as Russia’s new president was virtually guaranteed. Whether or not he can improve Russia’s economy after he takes office in May is far less certain.
To be sure, Vladimir Putin’s administration appears to have left Russia’s economy in a rosy state. Economic growth averaged 7.2% between 1999 and 2008. Foreign reserves stand at 30% of GDP and are the third highest in the world in absolute terms. The stock market has increased twenty-fold. The middle class is buying foreign cars, vacationing abroad, and dining at sushi restaurants, and surveys show that life satisfaction has increased across the board.