That Vladimir Putin is president of Russia again proves one thing: that the nation hasn't come all that far from its Soviet Union days after all.

That Vladimir Putin is president of Russia again proves one thing: that the nation hasn't come all that far from its Soviet Union days after all.


The 59-year-old Putin became Russia's president for the third time Monday, saying with a straight face following his oath that "I will do my best to justify the trust of millions of our citizens," which is almost funny - if unintentionally so - given the reported election fraud that preceded his coronation and the protests taking place outside the Kremlin. Regarding the latter, police were ordered to arrest anyone wearing the white ribbon symbolizing the opposition movement.


Of course, it's not as if Putin hasn't been in charge all along over the last dozen or so years, pulling strings as prime minister the past four, with Dmitri Medvedev pretending to be calling the shots, posing as a democratic reformer. Former KGB guy Putin is what he is. The repression may be delivered with a bit more polish, but it's the same iron fist, with citizens still subject to arbitrary arrest, to the farce of Russian elections, to a decidedly unfree press.


More Russians are working, there may be food on the table, the nation's security is not seriously threatened - all owing to Putin, to some degree, who has his talents - and that can tempt some to overlook things. Obviously fewer are as they see what's happening elsewhere around the world and want more themselves.


Will things be different this time? Popular uprisings have been successful in other nations where one never thought possible, social media technology truly is revolutionary, but in the end the follow-through wanes, the iron fist usually prevails. Don't expect the relationship between the U.S. and Russia to improve much.


Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.