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What Russian Bear?


Reporting from Russia with love.

At long last, the Russian bear is out of the woods.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia went down a long road of economic tumult. Yet, over the last ten years, the Russian economy has bounced back in a way rarely seen in the global economy. In 1998, after a major financial melt-down, Russia's reserves were practically zero. Today, they have grown to $480 billion. Moreover, its economy has grown on average 7 percent a year, hitting 8.1 percent in 2007.

All of the figures point to one thing: capitalism in Russia can work. And when looking for whom to thank, most Russians point to Putin, and by association, President Dmitry A. Medvedev.

With the winds of economic stability at their backs, Putin and Medvedev have been enjoying a national optimism rare in Russia's history. 64% of 17-26-year olds report that they "like life" in Russia, up from 46% ten years ago, according to Russia's Institute of Sociology. Others, however, complain that the economic stability of the country has allowed Putin's government to control a slightly less-than-democratic proportion of the country's information (80% of Russians get their news from just two stations controlled by the state). Such are the growing pains of a young democracy.

Such are also the pains of Boo, as he and Hoofy get a first hand taste of what the new Russian economy offers.

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