MOSCOW -- Today's Russia rejects Western-style competition, the rule of law and independent institutions while allowing capitalism and certain changes to economic and social policy under strictly controlled limits. The result is an attempt to strengthen the Soviet experiment and take it to its logical conclusion. Thus, the Putin regime defines "better" not in absolute terms, but as improving upon the performance of former Soviet leaders.
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The end of the Cold War, epitomized by the Berlin Wall destruction, quickly came to be seen by the West as its own triumphant victory and the USSR/Russia's unconditional surrender. Hence Russia was to be treated as a second-rank country, a regional power at best, that was expected to obediently follow whatever directions may have come from Washington and Brussels. The problem was the Russians did not share this view of themselves as a defeated nation obliged to accept the victors' terms.
Let's stop talking about the Cold War's revival as if Vladimir Putin is the one who raised the dead. We are the vampire hunters who failed to drive a stake through its heart. So we shouldn't be surprised, when we go out for a stroll one day to survey our domain, to hear the click of sharp teeth poised to tear into its latest victim.
Deng believed that the most urgent task was to improve people's livelihood. In his view, all other reforms, including political ones, had to serve this primary goal. He believed that copying the Western model and placing political reform on the top of the agenda, like the Soviets were doing at the time, was utterly foolish. In fact, that was exactly Deng's comment on Gorbachev after their meeting: "This man may look smart but in fact is stupid."