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Russia’s Not So Strongman

Popular protests and a tanking economy seem to be weakening President Vladimir Putin’s position, if not threatening his grip on power. Yet Russia’s strongman leader will not go down without a fight.


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Elmira Bayrasli: Welcome to Opinion Has It. I’m Elmira Bayrasli. The former KGB man in dark sunglasses. The shirtless leader riding a horse through Siberian mountains. The judo black belt training with the national Olympic team.

Archive Recording: When the going gets tough, the tough go to Siberia and strip down.

EB: Russian President Vladimir Putin has always cultivated a striking image of personal power.

Archive Recording: Putin, the bare-chested hunter discovering ancient treasure and riding Harley-Davidsons.

EB: And, as Russia’s longest serving ruler since Stalin, he seems to have the credentials to back it up.

Archive Recording, Hillary Clinton: What they’re looking at is a white authoritarian leader who has murdered journalists and his political enemies, who runs a regime of repression, who makes aggressive moves against neighboring countries.

EB: But Russia’s economy is tanking, and protests are raging.

Archive Recording: We begin in Russia, where over 3,000 people have been arrested during a second week of nationwide protests.

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