Surprise, Vladimir Putin is back as Russian president. For the first time in his now 12-year reign as Russia’s “national leader,” however, he has encountered dramatic public opposition to his rule. Putin will be inaugurated on May 7, 2012, with both his authority and legitimacy under greater question than ever before.
Putin’s campaign was noted for its heavy-handed anti-Americanism, especially his lengthy foreign policy platform essay entitled “Russia and a Changing World,” which appeared on February 27 in Moskovskie Novosti. In the essay, Putin asks, “Who undermines confidence?” His answer is the United States and NATO—especially the Americans who, “have become obsessed with the idea of becoming absolutely invulnerable.” In Putin’s worldview, the United States threatens Russia’s sovereignty. Anti-Americanism has been a staple of Russian political campaign rhetoric since the onset of the Putin era, but never like this.