Russia in the twenty-first century

Vladimir Putin became the acting president of Russia on December 31, 1999, and president on May 7, 2000. His election sidelined proposals to reduce the president's power. The people supported the new constitution. They wanted to eliminate the decision-making stalemate between the president and Parliament.

Conflicts between the executive and legislative branches of government had paralyzed the nation's economy to the detriment of society. Elected to a four-year term, Putin received 53 percent of the popular vote. The candidate who came in second won only 29 percent. Putin's first term was marked with consolidation of political power and stabilization of Russia's severely damaged economy. During Yeltsin's presidency, Russia was in a serious state of disarray. Governmental inefficiency and corruption reached a peak during a 1998 economic crisis. Russia's international prestige was questioned, but Putin managed to bring some stability to the country.While some Western circles criticize him for borderline autocratic governance, Russians overwhelmingly support Putin's presidency. In the 2004 presidential elections, more than two-thirds of voters supported Putin, who was easily reelected for a second term. Some critics of the current government have raised concerns that Putin could change the constitution in order to stay in power after his current term expires. This, however, seems unlikely. Meanwhile, Russia has regained its place as an important geopolitical factor. Its political influence is particularly significant in the turbulent Middle East region.