In a rare break from his usual protocol, Putin has made a long speech in which he addressed some of the problems that have, and will plague Russia in the coming decades.
Speaking in the Duma, Putin however, addressed the whole country when he listed what he believes are the most pressing concerns that hamper Russia's development in the new century.
One of the things that Putin addressed is the need for school reform. Apparently the average grades in Russia are slumping when compared to the rest of the world and even in comparison its own grades during the era of the Soviets.
Another issue in Putin's mind is the heavy bureaucracy and corruption that have plagued Russia for decades. But is Putin ready to shed the ancient burocratic system that has served him so well? Is Putin talking of a streamlined, westernized, capitalist Russia?
Not so fast.
Putin, in fact, seems to be appealing to the public in an effort to wrestle free of the entrenched Duma's powers, which rival his own. It seems then, that there is a power struggle going on, reminiscent of the one that marked Leonid Brezhnev' rule.
Astonishingly enough, he even hinted at a future in which, in return for broader powers and a more streamlined government structure, Putin would be wiling to support civil rights movements.
Has Putin realized that the insular nature of his country's governance is undermining Russia's possible inclusion in the global economy of the 21st century?
What is more interesting, is the fact that Putin is realizing that the oil riches that brought him to power are waning, supplanted by buyer countries' reliance on their own oil reserve and gas exploration through fracking.
So what is Putin to do? If he does not move quickly, his legacy will be that of a plutocrat who served his friends well, but who was unable to protect Russia from the economy slump that is at her door.
Lastly, Putin sounded the alarm on neighboring Ukraine, now in the throes of civil dissent over its inclusion in the EU. If Ukraine wrestles itself free of Russia's direct influence, Russia will truly become isolated as never before, with one of its former Soviets saber rattling at her door.
Not all that is shiny, reveals itself to be gold. Only time will tell how sincere Putin is in salvaging his legacy and bringing Russia to the world and into the 21st century.
Partial Source : Spiegel intl/ 12.14.13