Meet the G-8--Russia's Vladamir Putin - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Meet the G-8--Russia's Vladamir Putin

Not too many years ago it was the "evil empire." But now Russia is often an ally in our complicated world, and the former communist country is part of a very capitalist group. Starting with the facts on Russia. It's a federative democracy, one more flavor of democracy, with an elected president, who names a prime minister. They both have to deal with other elected representatives, like our House and Senate, but the president can actually pass a law himself, without them. It has about half as many people as the US, and they don't make much money. The GDP per Russian is less than $10,000. Remember, The US is nearly $36,000.

Now for the man at the top. This guy is different. Different from most other Russian leaders, and different from the other G-8 leaders. Vladamir Putin. He's one of the youngest, born in Saint Petersburg in the early 1950's. He went to law school, but then put that to work in the KGB, spending most of his time in Germany.

As far as work, Putin admits Russia probably won't be as open or successful a capitalist democracy as the United States or Great Britain, but they're working on it. With so many different people and histories and traditions, it's tough. He's trying to bring it all together, and keep it all together, including handling civil war and other threats. He doesn't hesitate to crack down, and hard. No surprise from the former spy, who happens to have a black belt in judo. He doesn't hesitate to demonstrate, reinforcing his tough guy image. He's even an author, with a book coming out soon. On judo.

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