14:58 GMT +322 October 2017
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    ELECTION RETURNS: EXPERT ASSESSMENTS AND HOPES

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    Below Russian experts and political scientists comment on the results of the presidential election on March 14 and outline what they expect from Vladimir Putin's second term in office.

    Gleb Pavlovsky, president of the Effective Policy Foundation:

    "The structure of the vote for Putin is yet to be analysed in detailed, but it is clear even now that he was backed, above all, by the middle class. The new middle class made up the core of his electorate, which was not the case in 2000. Putin managed to increase the middle class, which has almost doubled, and consolidate it round his policy. At present, this is a reliable base for the president's policies. Putin is insisting on a multi-party system because otherwise it will be impossible to work with the middle class. I think that the democracy of the urban middle class is a key political mechanism which must replace the former communist machine and the post-communist bureaucracy as a political player."

    Vyacheslav Nikonov, director of the Politics Foundation:

    "There was nothing surprising about the election results, only Nikolai Kharitonov (the Communist Party candidate) won a slightly higher percentage of the vote than expected. The Communists' electorate again demonstrated its remarkable ability to consolidate. Apart from that, I do not see anything special about the elections. All that I know concerning the criticism of the elections is connected with the fact that the broadcasting time was not equally divided between candidates during the election campaign. I did not notice any special administrative resource in the election - why should the president use it if he was winning all the same? Administrative work to raise the turnout was conducted, of course, but there is nothing bad in that. In general, turnout in Russia is higher than in the rest of the world on average and does not prove anything. Such a number of people are accustomed to voting in Russia.

    As to the question of whether the western community recognises this election as democratic and legitimate, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell may have a different opinion but they will not dispute Putin's legitimacy.

    Alexander Shokhin, chairman of the supervisory council of Renaissance Capital:

    "What I am expecting from Putin's second term of office is the acceleration of the reforms such as the administrative, tax and pension reforms and the beginning of the implementation of the priority projects on which 'the group on doubling GDP' was working: these are education, health, and affordable housing. As early as this year, we must at least adopt legislation so that by 2006-2007 we can feel tangible results. Then, at the end of his second term, the president can report back to us on practical steps that have lessened the Russian economy's dependence on the external situation."

    Igor Nikolayev, head of the strategic planning department of the company FBK:

    "I expect that everything will be all right with the economy and the drawn up plans will be fulfilled. One can draw this conclusion from the fact that the key figures in the government's economic team have retained their posts. The tax reform will be completed at last, sooner or later, whereas the administrative reform will stall - judging by the fact that the number of departments in the new government has increased. As long as 'administrative rent', not remuneration for the results of their labour, remains the main stimulus for officials, the number of positions with access to this rent will only grow."

    Mikhail Delyagin, economist:

    "There will be no qualitative changes. Liberal reforms will be continued in the economy. In politics, one may expect changes to the Constitution (first of all, the extension of the president's term of office), the abolition of the state's social character. In the field of state development, I predict the further growth of the bureaucracy. Within the next few years, any reforms will be implemented in the interests of business, which will increasingly come under the control of the state, or power agencies, to be more precise."

    Alexei Makarkin, head of the department of analytical programmes at the Centre of Political Technologies:

    "I expect that a series of highly unpopular reforms, including those of the administrative sphere, housing facilities and public utilities, coupled with the inevitable growth of housing-utilities tariffs, and the reform of the energy sphere, which is connected with the growth of prices for electric energy, will be implemented within the next four years. If all this coincides with the economic decline predicted by experts or practically unpredictable changes in energy resources' prices, then the problems of the second term may turn out to be much more serious than the problems of the first term".

    Igor Yurgens, vice-president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs:

    "I would like Putin to make decisive steps toward Russia's modernisation. This has been laid down in a number of key reforms being conducted by the president. The first one is doubling GDP, the second - eradicating poverty and the third - the army reform. However, the second and the third are impossible without the first. This is why there is really only one task - economic growth."

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