Vladimir Putin launched his campaign for the presidency with an open letter full of old Yeltsinisms. But so what? Boris Yeltsin’s vision of a democratic and prosperous Russia among the world’s “normal countries” was attractive and unfulfilled. “These are good promises,” Pogo Possum once said. “They hardly been used.”

The immediate challenge, wrote Putin, is to lay a “moral foundation.” Morality is “the very heart of patriotism,” without which “national dignity” and “national sovereignty” are impossible. The country must strengthen its will, confront its problems, allow the economy to breathe and the state to grow. In this “rich country of poor people,” the main task of economic policy is to make honest work more profitable than theft. The state and the government must eradicate crime and corruption and enforce economic rules that are the same for all. Only a strong state can guarantee entrepreneurial, social and personal freedom. But a Putocrat is more auto than demo. “The stronger the state,” wrote Putin, “the freer the individual.” Polls give Putin 60 percent support and a forty-point lead over his nearest challenger, Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov.