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    BRITISH POLITICAL SCIENTISTS AND EXPERTS ARE HOPEFUL THAT PUTIN WILL CONTINUE REFORMING RUSSIA

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    LONDON, March 15 (RIA Novosti correspondent Aleksander Smotrov) - British political scientists and experts are hopeful that Vladimir Putin elected for the second term will continue introducing reforms in Russia.

    James Nixey, one of the leaders of the Russia-Eurasia program of the British Royal Institute of International Affairs states that things that have to be done and things that will be done are certainly different matters.

    In his opinion, priority issues for Putin and his government are reform continuation, taxation issues and supremacy of law. The expert said presently the Russian economy is very successful and its success is based not only on oil prices. Its growth is really significant: 6.9% on average per annum in the last 4 years, 7.3% last year. Even if oil prices drop significantly, the economy will continue growing, emphasized the expert.

    In this connection he indicated that Putin has space for maneuvering due to relative strengthening of the economy.

    The expert opines that experiments with liberal democracy in Russia are over. Meanwhile he states that the threat of transition towards totalitarianism is non-existent but everyday life of people will be affected by the insufficiently developed mechanism of law's supremacy, especially in the area of ownership rights.

    While talking about the foreign policy course of the present Kremlin administration, Nixey said Putin is quite satisfied with it. He is respected abroad and global leaders can not put pressure on him in such issues as Chechnya, relations with China and the Moslem world, first of all with Iran.

    The British expert gave the following assessment to the personality of the head of the Russian state: Putin's pragmatic approach is demonstrated by the fact that in the last 4 years he managed to be everything for everybody. He will continue to be a friend with everybody.

    While commenting at the request of the RIA Novosti correspondent on possible development of events by the next presidential elections, Nixey said: At the moment it is very difficult to forecast who will become President in 2008. Remember, we failed to foresee the candidacy of the Prime Minister three weeks ago. But in 4 years we will see a different person; Putin's role will become slightly weaker. Possibly like Blair he will become more and more "dissolved" in his difficult job, he said. The expert of the British Royal Institute of International Affairs concluded that his forecast was that it would not be Putin.

    In her turn Margot Light, a professor with London School of Economics, political scientist and an expert for Russia stated in her interview to RIA Novosti that Putin's victory by a significant majority of votes in the first election round was beyond doubt.

    In her opinion, the newly elected president and his government will have to continue eradicating corruption, search for a political and universally acceptable resolution of the Chechen conflict.

    The professor opined that in its foreign policy Russia had to continue its active cooperation with Europe and the USA and also to transform the Commonwealth of Independent States from a declarative organization into a really functioning international organization.

    Light spoke rather sharply regarding the present Yukos case (a Russian oil concern a number of managers of which were accused of tax evasion and financial machinations). She stressed: While Khodorkovsky (head of Yukos) is kept in prison, not let out on bail and until the case is not heard in court, it will be difficult to persuade the world that it is simply a criminal case and not a politically motivated vendetta in which courts are used in such a way that it undermines the reputation of the whole judicial system.

    While speaking about the Chechen problem, Light indicated that terrorist acts in Moscow and other cities indicated that the struggle against extremism in Chechnya remained inefficient and crimes would be committed until an acceptable political resolution was found.

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